It is unlikely that any Arab state will become democratic in the coming years, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday.
“I do not believe I will see, in my lifetime, democracy in the Arab world,” Ya’alon said during a meeting in Berlin with German Federal Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen.
The defense minister, who is 63, cited instability across the Middle East as the reason for his assessment, and said he foresees further internal turmoil in Arab countries.
“The situation in the Middle East is very complex and unstable, and we expect to have chronic instability in the coming years,” he said.
“We are great supporters of democracy and I wish there were more democratic states around us,” he said, adding that elections did not mean a country had achieved democracy.
“We have experience in the Palestinian arena, in Gaza, where Hamas won the elections but there is no democracy. This was also the case in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Egyptian people realized there would not be a democracy and that their condition did not improve, so they took to the streets.”
Ya’alon went on to discuss the raging civil war in Syria, and said he finds it hard to believe the conflict will be resolved in the near future.
“In Syria we haven’t seen Bashar Assad defeat the opposition, but we also do not see that the opposition is defeating Assad – he now controls forty percent of Syrian territory.”
The defense minister said Iran was behind most of the unrest in the region, and accused the Islamic Republic of exporting terror throughout the globe. He also called on world powers to ensure that Iran never acquire a nuclear weapon.
“The Iranian regime is the main cause of instability in the Middle East and beyond. The Iranians are involved in conflicts in the Middle East, and they spread terror in South America, Asia and Africa,” he said. “We are talking about a messianic-apocalyptic regime, so one way or another its nuclear program must be stopped, otherwise it will become a nightmare for the Middle East and the entire world.”
During the meeting with his German counterpart, Ya’alon praised Germany’s “special connection” with Israel, and said Israel appreciates the German government’s continues support.
“With our dark past in the background, Germany and Israel currently share common values and mutual interests, and we continue to share our opinions in favor of the future of the world, and together deal with our challenges,” Ya’alon said. “Germany and Israel are two democracies facing similar threats.”