The Israeli defense minister said Friday there is no peaceful solution for Syria in sight, just hours after the U.S. announced a newly invigorated policy toward the two-year-old civil war.
Minister Moshe Ya'alon, the former chief of staff to the Israeli Defense Forces, said he cannot predict the outcome of the internal conflict that has caused 90,000 deaths in Syria, according to U.N. estimates, despite the White House announcement Thursday that it would begin new military and diplomatic policies in response to the regime's use of chemical weapons.
Heavy violence has marred the sectarian conflict between both domestic factions as well as outside forces such as Hezbollah, Iran and groups associated with al-Qaida. Even if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does fall, the country will be left in chaos, Ya'alon said.
"We can't see any conclusion in the current situation, with Assad or without Assad," he said at the D.C.-based Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "[There is a] very hostile relationship between the sectors which will affect the future of Syria for a very, very long period of time."
The opposition movement is not homogenous or unified, he said.
The Free Syrian Army's Supreme Military Council has represented rebel fighters internationally, under the command of former Syrian army Gen. Salim Idris, who defected last year. Since fighting began in March 2011, however, other militant groups have joined the Syrian fighters, such as the al-Nusrah Front, closely tied with al-Qaida in Iraq.
Shiite extremists, including Hezbollah and Iranian fighters, are also clashing with Sunnis in Syria, who fight against the indigenous Alawites along the Syrian coast, as well as the Kurds in the north. As a result of this fighting, Assad only controls about 40 percent of the country, Ya'alon said.
Israel has so far maintained limited interference in Syria. It conducted aerial attacks at the Golan Heights border crossing it shares with Syria after fighting broke out in the region in June.
"The worst outcome in Syria is a chaotic solution," said Ya'alon. "But we can manage it."
"Whether it will remain as a political entity, or divided into sectarian enclaves with sectarian leadership, or whether in chaos for a very long period of time … all of us should look to our interests," he said. Ya'alon was scheduled to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at 3 p.m. on Friday. He will receive an in-flight demonstration of the MV-22 Osprey. Israel became in April the first foreign country to agree to purchase the tilt-rotor aircraft.