The danger of the Syrian government falling or the country splitting has passed, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said yesterday in a wide-ranging interview with the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir. The interview will be published on Monday.
The attempt to overthrow the government militarily has failed, Nasrallah stated, and is no longer an option. Most countries believe that that the solution to the Syrian crisis must be diplomatic.
Nasrallah said that the rebel campaign in Syria was not motivated by a desire to build a democratic regime, achieve freedom and justice or even to fight corruption. In fact, he said, the intention was to change Syria's policies, such as its support for the Palestinian resistance and Hezbollah.
It was Israel's strategic aim, he added, to sever Syria's ties with Hezbollah, following its failure to do so during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Nasrallah rejected criticism of Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, saying that "our constituency supports our actions in Syria." There are even people in the March 14 Alliance [a political coalition lead by Saad Hariri] who support the involvement in order to protect Lebanon against armed militias aligned with Al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad, he said.
Lebanese sources close to Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday that the president is determined to announce the start of his campaign for the presidency in mid-May and to hold the elections in July. According to the sources, Assad has been advised by Russia to hold the election in order to avoid creating a power vacuum in the country.
The Syrian opposition has warned against holding the election, on the grounds that the situation does not make it possible and millions of Syrians would not be able to exercise their right to vote, either due to their being refugees outside the country or due to the destruction of infrastructure within the country.