BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea predicted Monday the collapse of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad under pressure of the popular uprising that has been raging for more than five months with no letup.
In an interview with MTV, Geagea also called on Hezbollah to take “a major strategic decision” by dismantling its military and security branches and turning strictly into a political party before it is too late.
“The course of developments in Syria has become clear. The collapse of the regime is inevitable … I expect Assad to collapse just like [Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi,” Geagea said.
“The revolution is now six months old. It has been snowballing every day, as a result of the momentum of the revolution and Arab responsiveness.
“In my view, it [the regime] is finished,” he said.
Geagea said even if Assad bowed to long-standing Western demands to sever Syria's strategic alliance with Iran, it would not help to save him. “An arrangement of the internal situation and a shift in alliances can no longer help President Assad,” he said.
“The situation is in favor of the Syrian revolution. The Syrian regime has lost its internal and external cornerstone … The Syrian revolution has scored points at the international level. The circumstances in the region and the regime’s standing on Iran’s side have helped the revolution in Syria … That’s why matters are [working] in favor of the rebels,” Geagea said.
He scoffed at the theory that if Assad is ousted, Syria could sink into a full-blown civil war. “Indications in Syria are headed toward decisiveness rather than toward a civil war,” he said.
Geagea also poured scorn on the argument that the Assad regime was a guarantee for the Christians in Syria and Lebanon against the threat of the rise of Muslim fundamentalists.
“The Christian presence in the region does not rely on the current regimes,” he said, adding: “If fundamentalist regimes took over power, we will oppose them as we have opposed some current regimes.”
“If the presence of Christians depended on dictatorial regimes, this means we do not exist. If we wanted to rely on these regimes, this would falsify what we believe in. Then, why should the Christians be present in the Orient?” Geagea asked.
Geagea, a harsh critic of Hezbollah, called on the party to take “a major strategic decision” by dissolving its military and security branches and operating only as a political party. He stressed that the regional equation – a reference to Syria’s influence in the region and its strong support for Hezbollah – no longer existed.
“Hezbollah’s position at the strategic level is different today. I want to send an extremely honest message to Hezbollah officials: Since 1990, Hezbollah has been the fourth or fifth militia in Lebanon. Certain circumstances propped up that led to the surge of Hezbollah … This equation is on its way to be eliminated,” he said.
“Hezbollah can no longer be as it is today. As a political group, we will carry it on our shoulders because we as Lebanese have to live together. But as a military and security organization, it cannot endure,” he said, adding: “Hezbollah is required to take a major strategic decision … It has to renounce its military and security arms and turn into a political party in order to see how we can build the country.”
Geagea said if Hezbollah took that decision, it would be “heroism.” However, he warned that if Hezbollah did not take such a decision, this would be more costly for the country.
Geagea said the collapse of the Assad regime would not lead to the fall of Hezbollah in Lebanon. When the Syrian regime falls, a part of Syria’s Lebanese allies will rally around Hezbollah, he said.
Geagea said there are no contacts between the Lebanese Forces and Hezbollah. “Hezbollah has not so far accepted to talk to us,” he said.