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Barak: Cracks in US Mideast Hegemony

Defense Minister says recent US statements increase pressure on Iran, but 'crippling sanctions' not likely.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/2/2012, 5:27 PM

Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Flash 90

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that there are "cracks" in the "dominance and hegemony" of the United States in the Middle East. He spoke before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, where he gave an analysis of the strategic, political and security situation at the beginning of the new civil year.

Barak said that the economic crisis in the United States and an "overloaded table" of internal problems diminishes the American's will and capability to project strength. Therefore, there are cracks in its hegemony and dominance in the Middle East. Still, he said, the US continues to be the sole superpower.

There is potential for new challenges along the northern border and in the south, he said. The Sinai could turn into a terror hotbed. Loss of control by Bashar Assad in Syria could spill over and affect the Golan Heights and "larger areas," he warned – presumably meaning Lebanon.

The so-called "Arab spring" events have influenced the Iranian regime, he added. Iran is worried about losing its strategic tie to Syria and is also concerned about "internal effects" in Iran as a result of the Syrian uprising.

Barak estimated that the chance for "crippling sanctions" on Iran is low but said that the recent pronouncements by the US Defense Secretary and the Head of Joint Chiefs of Staff "raise the bar" of pressure in Iran.