Barak Cautions Syrian Unrest Could Snowball Into Israel's North and Golan

Defense minister also says Arab Spring is having an effect on the Iranian regime.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned a Knesset committee on Monday that an escalation of violence in Syria could ripple into the Golan Heights and the north of Israel.

"[Unrest in] Syria could have repercussions on the Golan and wider areas in the north, as a result of loss of control," Barak said during a briefing for members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "This requires the defense establishment to be prepared for any development ... we need resources and attentiveness if we are to meet the regional challenges."

The defense minister also said the Arab Spring is having an effect on the Iranian regime.

Barak noted that Tehran is troubled by recent developments in Syria, and especially by the possibility of losing its alliance with the Assad regime.

He added Iran's nuclear program is "advancing despite the setbacks, sanctions and external pressures" but the likelihood of the world adopting "paralyzing sanctions" against the regime is fairly low.

Barak said Iran is worried that the recent unrest in the Arab world may lead to similar turmoil at home.

"Even those who are not security experts understand that resources and attentiveness are necessary to respond to the regional challenges," Barak said.

"The United States and Israel have an almost identical approach to the events in Iran," he said.

However, the economic crisis in the United States and the pressing internal issues diminish its willingless and ability to flex its muscles. There are cracks in the United States' dominance and hegemony in the region, he said.

Barak said the struggle over Egypt's character is still in its midst, despite the secular movement's election failure. In view of Egypt's Islamic parties' success in the first election round, the Egyptian Parliament will "implement an anti-Israel agenda," Barak said.

However, "at this stage there is no real threat of Egypt's revoking the peace agreement with Israel," he said.

He predicted the turbulence in the Middle East will continue, characterized by the rising importance of the Arab street, increased hostility to Israel and the rise of Islamic factions.