Former Mossad chief says government in Amman will know how to satisfy people’s wishes even if they start to revolt
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan predicted Wednesday that the Arab Spring will not reach Jordan and that in case it did “the regime would find the right way to satisfy the people’s wishes with reforms.”
Dagan made the statements during Shimon Peres’ fourth Presidential Conference at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, which was also attended by former US Ambassador to Israel Dennis Ross and former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi.
Dagan estimated that the Arab Spring is far from over. “I am worried about Islamist parties with a radical agenda that will take power. It will present a big problem for us,” he said.
Asked about the situation in Syria, Dagan said: “Assad has to go, we need to help anyone who is working to get rid of him.” He estimated that the outcomes in Syria will affect the entire region, particularly Lebanon.
Addressing the elections in Egypt, the former Mossad chief noted that “In Egypt it was never important which way the votes go but who counts them.”
Former IDF chief Ashkenazi also addressed the conference and touched on the situation in Egypt. He advised the Israeli government to maintain open communication lines with the Egyptian army stressing “It is practically the only channel, with Turkey as well.” Ashkenazi also proposed improving relations with Turkey.
“The storm sweeping the Arab world is of tectonic proportions. It happens once every 100 years and cannot be overestimated. This is not just a coup. I don’t know anyone in the defense establishment that predicted what happened there.”
“The Gulf states aren’t immune either,” Ashkenazi warned.
‘Israel prefers stability’
Explaining Israel’s policy in the Middle East, Ashkenazi said that “Israel has always preferred stability in a regime over the nature of a regime. It’s important we be surrounded by democracies, but stability is more important – we need a clear partner for dialogue.”
The former IDF chief warned that radical forces gain strength when central governments lose power. “While not a democrat, let alone a Zionist, it cannot be denied that Mubarak was an anchor of regional stability,” he said.
“In this sense, developments in Egypt can have a turn for the worse. We can still remember Mubarak dragging Arafat to the table in Oslo and forcing him to sign (the accords).”
In respect to Syria, Ashkenazi said that Assad’s removal will weaken the Iranian-Syrian axis which is a cause for concern in Tehran. “Assad’s role is bigger that meets the eye – he’s not only Iran’s main ally but also the source of the majority of Hezbollah’s weapons. The missiles we are so concerned about originate from the Syrian army. I can’t think of any future Syrian government that would do this.”
‘Service, not enlistment, for all’
The former IDF chief also addressed internal issues in Israel. “It has long been my belief that not everyone must be drafted. We should go by a principle of service for all not enlistment for all. The IDF should get first pick. Whoever is not selected by the IDF will go to the Fire Services, Magen David Adom or other services.”
Referring to the service of Arab-Israelis, he said, “I can’t grasp why someone from Tira or Tayibe can work as a nurse at the Hillel Yaffe hospital but can’t be a paramedic at MDA.”
“As for the haredim, it’s very important they join the army and then enter the work force. The Torah greats will decide who goes to yeshivot and the rest will join the army. “
Also speaking at the conference was Dennis Ross who criticized ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak who he said had positioned himself as the only possible ruler and prevented worthy contenders from getting ahead. Ross described the current state in the Middle East as the “first chapter of 20.”
He said that if the Muslim Brotherhood realize they need outside help they will be required to adhere to international guidelines and preserve the peace with Israel