Vienna: Israel`s defense minister urged the
world on Monday to apply "paralysing" sanctions on Iran`s energy
sector and leadership, but didn`t comment about whether his
country is ready to strike Tehran to cripple its alleged
efforts to make nuclear arms.
Ehud Barak also described the Arab Spring that has swept
regional despots from power in the Mideast and Africa as an
"extremely moving" manifestation of mass striving for
democracy, and he predicted that Syrian President Bashar Assad
would be toppled within weeks.
Barak spoke on the final day of the three-day World
Policy Conference in Vienna, which also showed that relations
between Turkey and Israel remain strained following last
year`s Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed eight
Turkish citizens and a Turkish-American.
The annual conference aims to bring together policy
makers from different sectors to debate some of the world`s
more pressing concerns and attempt to advance solutions.
Regarding Assad`s clique, Barak said during a
question-and-answer session at the conference, "The falling
down of this family is a blessing for the Middle East."
He said he expects Syria`s relatively secular society to
remain that way in any post-Assad scenario. At the same time,
Barak said the Mideast turmoil over the short term could
result in more influence for Islamic radicals, which would be
"quite disturbing for the region."
The Arab region`s democratic upheavals and Iran are among
Israel`s most pressing security concerns. The Jewish state is
particularly keen to preserve an alliance with Egypt that is a
cornerstone of Mideast stability, but relations between the
two countries have become strained since a popular uprising
toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.