Geagea: Anti-IS alliance
not intended to oust Assad

BEIRUT - Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said on Thursday that he does not believe the United States led international alliance to combat jihadist group the Islamic State (IS) will topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.


“The alliance is targeting IS fundamentally, not the overthrow of the Assad regime as some are saying,” Geagea told Germany’s Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) news agency while on a visit to the Egyptian capital Cairo.


“If that was the true goal none of the countries participating in the alliance would have been embarrassed to say so openly… Many [of them] have said for a long time that they are making efforts to topple the… regime.”


On September 11, US President Barack Obama announced his country’s commitment to wipe out IS, which declared an Islamic “caliphate” in northern Iraq and Syria, and caught the world’s attention with a string of atrocities after a lightning offensive in June.


Two conferences in Saudi Arabia’s summer capital of Jeddah and French capital Paris have since been held to build up Arab and international support from the alliance.


Geagea aslo addressed matters closer to home in the interview, rejecting the idea of his rival Change and Reform bloc leader MP Michel Aoun becoming president for two years as a solution to the deadlock stalling Lebanon’s presidential elections.


“I reject that for two reasons,” he told DPA. “The first is that I reject meddling with length of the presidential term.”


“The second is that I do not believe Aoun is the soundest president for Lebanon in the current period.”


Since sessions began on April 23, Lebanon’s presidential elections have been locked in a seemingly unbreakable deadlock; with the two rival blocs that dominate Lebanese politics unable to agree on a successor to former President Michel Suleiman, whose term ended on May 25.