After months of official silence, Israel PM Netanyahu led a chorus of Israeli officials Sunday condemning Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah of assisting the Assad regime in committing ‘genocide’ against Syria’s people. AP reported
Netanyahu accused Syria's powerful, anti-Israel allies of helping the regime of President Bashar Assad of brutally suppressing the 15-month-old rebellion.
"This massacre is not executed by the Syrian government alone; it is assisted by Iran and Hezbollah, and the world should realize this is a concentrated axis of evil: Iran, Syria and Hezbollah," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.
After keeping quiet in the early months of the Syrian uprising, Israeli leaders have grown increasingly outspoken in their calls for Assad to step aside. Israeli officials, however, adamantly reject suggestions that they are assisting Syrian rebels.
Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz warned that Iran and Hezbollah could take the conflict beyond Syria's borders, and portrayed the slaughters in the harshest of terms.
"A crime against humanity, genocide, is transpiring in Syria today," Mofaz said in an interview with Army Radio, faulting world powers for what he called a "limp" response and singling out Russia because it is arming Syria.
President Shimon Peres also urged world powers to intervene, telling Israel Radio the international community was not doing enough to end the bloodletting.
"I have much respect for the rebels, who demonstrate daily in face of live gunfire, and I hope they triumph," Peres said prior to leaving for the US to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a formal ceremony at the White House.
In a related development, the Jerusalem Post noted the comments on Israel Radio by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon offering humanitarian assistance to Syrian opponents of the Assad regime in Damascus:
Though Israel is not in direct contact with the Syrian opposition, Ayalon said, it is in constant contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"Without massive intervention from the United Nations forces, there will be no way to stop the sufferingof the Syrian nation," Ayalon said.
Meanwhile, in an effort to show unity and overcome criticism about Islamist connections, the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) announced the appointment of a minority Kurd to head the group. Reuters reported:
The main Syrian opposition umbrella group, the SNC, [appointed] Kurdish activist Abdelbasset Sida as its leader at a meeting in Istanbul on Sunday, a Council statement said.
Sida, who has been living in exile in Sweden for many years, was the only candidate for the three-month presidency of the SNC at a meeting of 33 members of the Council’s general secretariat.
The 56-year-old Sida succeeds Burhan Ghalioun, a liberal opposition figure who had presided over the Council since it was formed in August of last year.
Ghalioun, another exile living in Paris, has come under criticism for having had his presidency constantly renewed when the Council was supposed to represent a democratic alternative to the authoritarian rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the most influential player in the Council, had initially indicated it wanted Ghalioun to remain President, but then opted to support Sida after opposition activists inside Syria raised objections to Ghalioun following a third renewal of his term last month.
Adib al-Shihakly, a founding member of the Council, had also threatened to resign if Ghalioun remained President.
Opposition sources said the [apponutment] of Sida could help enlist more Kurds, who number one million out of Syria's 21
Demonstrations against Assad's rule have been regularly breaking out in Kurdish regions of Syria but without matching the intensity of protests in the rest of the country.
That may be partly because of support by Assad for the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is suspected of being behind assassinations of several anti-Assad Kurdish opposition figures since the revolt erupted in March 2011.
Kurdish members of the Council have also had open disputes with the remainder of the body over the issue of Kurdish rights and whether a post-Assad Syria would be built around a federal structure similar to that in neighboring Iraq.
Sherkoh Abbas, President of the opposition Kurdish National Assembly of Syria (KURDNAS) whom we interviewed in the June NER commented:
The US, Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhood were behind this move to bring Kurds into the equation. It is part of the Council’s new tactics to involve Kurds in the fight.
It is the same business (Muslim Brotherhood and anti democratic groups) but under new management with zero power.
Sida, while a decent man, is looking for opportunities that could only slightly improve the plight of Kurds which is not acceptable to the Kurdish street and KURDNAS.
The announcement amounts to new packaging and marketing by the Council to bring Kurds on board with no real benefit to us.
That is why we need support from the US and Israel. The regime is on the verge of collapsing. However, the Council has no plans to support democratic groups and natural allies.