Israeli Defense Minister Calls for More Active American Role in Turbulent Middle East
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is calling for greater American involvement in a turbulent Middle East.
In a pre-Sukkot interview with the Hebrew news site Walla, excerpts of which were published on Tuesday, Lieberman said, “The United States has quite a few challenges of its own, but as a trend — the more the United States will be active [in the region], the better it will be for the State of Israel.”
To its north, Lieberman noted, the Jewish state has been facing a multifaceted situation involving Russia, Iran, Turkey and Hezbollah, among other parties.
“This is no simple matter to deal with, on a daily basis,” Lieberman said. “The public doesn’t know everything, and that’s a good thing, but this is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week investment and effort.”
In Syria, Lieberman assessed, the Assad regime is winning its six-and-a-half year-old war against rebel groups.
“I see a long international queue lining up to woo [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, include Western nations, including moderate Sunnis,” Lieberman said. “Suddenly everyone wants to get close to Assad. This is unprecedented.”
Recently, Israel has been publicly expressing its concerns about Iran’s ongoing bid to set up a permanent presence in Syria.
In August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Sochi for a sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At the meeting, Netanyahu stated, “Iran is increasing its efforts to establish its military foothold in Syria. That is dangerous for Israel, the Middle East and, I believe, the whole world.”
“We are all defeating ISIS in a concerted international effort, and that is welcome,” Netanyahu went on to say. “What is not welcome is Iran moving in everywhere ISIS moves out. We do not forget for one minute that Iran continues to threaten Israel’s destruction every day; it is arming terrorist organizations and is itself instigating terrorism; and it is developing intercontinental missiles with the goal of arming them with nuclear warheads.”
“For all these reasons, Israel continues to oppose Iran’s entrenchment in Syria,” the Israeli prime minister concluded. “We will defend ourselves in any way against this threat and any threat.”