Almost 18 months ago (Dec. 11, 2011), then Defense Minister Ehud Barak predicted that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s days in power were numbered and that his situation was dire. Albeit that his assessment, which he kept reiterating, was based on intelligence information, it was also wishful thinking — he believed Assad’s downfall would be a blessing for the Middle East and good news for Israel. His opinion was shared by nearly all of the senior defense echelons in Israel.
But a few days ago, it transpired that an argument has been taking place in defense and political circles between those who continue to espouse Barak’s view and others who feel it would be best if Assad were to retain his seat. An intelligence source quoted by the London Times, on May 17, 2013, put it this way: "Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine.”