Syrian President Bashar Assad
Syrian President Bashar AssadIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Professor Moshe Ma’oz of the Hebrew University’s Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Faculty of Humanities expressed doubt on Sunday Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government is on the verge of collapse.

Speaking with Arutz Sheva, Ma’oz recommended that no one eulogize Assad just yet.

“Even though there is a desire that the Assad regime collapse, there is little chance that it will,” he said adding, “I do not see him falling.”

According to Ma’oz, as long as there is no massive defection from the Syrian army with heavy weapons, Assad will not fall. He said the recent reports which said that rebels already control half of Syria are incorrect.

“There are twenty to thirty thousand troops who are all divided and split between one another and don’t have any heavy weapons,” said Ma’oz. “They are in the margins and have indeed taken those areas, but Assad is wise and is ruling in the center of the country. They do not have a real chance.”

He noted that the country that might be able to undermine Assad’s position is Turkey. “If Turkey actually establishes a buffer zone along its border with Syria,” he said, “additional opposition forces will come there and it will become the basis for an attack. The Turks, however, are afraid of Iran.”

Ma’oz also addressed China and Russia’s veto in the Security Council of a resolution against Syria, explaining that Russia and China have many different interests in Syria, some of which are economic. He mentioned the Russian base off the coast of Syria and as well as the weapons Russia supplies to Syria, two interests that Russia is in no hurry to give up. As for China, Ma’oz said, its interest is to balance the American influence in the Middle East.

He concluded by suggesting that Israel remain alert and be prepared for any scenario along its northern border.