BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Geagea predicts Assad will be ousted by end of 2012

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. (Archive Photo/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad will fall by the end of 2012 and regional events should be enough to convince Hezbollah that “the game is over” concerning their weapons, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea was quoted as saying in an Arabic daily Friday. “In my opinion, events in the region, starting with Syria and ending in Iran, are capable of creating an atmosphere for the brothers in Hezbollah to be convinced that the game is over and they have to surrender their arms to the state,” Geagea told the Egypt-based Rose al-Yusef newspaper.

Geagea, along with his allies in the March 14 coalition, has repeatedly called on the resistance group to disarm, saying that Hezbollah’s weapons stockpile present an obstacle to the establishment of a state capable of defending itself.

However, Hezbollah has maintained that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon from Israel and says the tripartite formula of the “army, people, and the resistance,” supported by Prime Minister Najib Mikati and previous governments, is the only means to defend the country.

Geagea also said that the collapse of President Bashar Assad’s government might take several months, but that it was inevitable.

“According to my estimates, [the government in Damascus will collapse] no later than the end of 2012,” said Geagea, a staunch critic of Assad.

Geagea added that the ruling Baath party had managed to withstand growing uprisings in the country, unlike other countries in the region where protests movements have toppled autocratic leaders, because the Syrian army has remained thus far loyal to the Assad family.

The Lebanese Forces leader said that if the army had remained neutral in the crisis, the government would have collapsed much sooner.

Geagea noted that, in comparison, the Egyptian and Tunisian armies did not comply with the oppressive measures of their governments.

He also voiced optimism about what he described as progress in “Syria’s revolution.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 21, 2012, on page 2.

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