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Analyst predicts military coup in Syria

posted 15 Mar 2012, 08:05 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 15 Mar 2012, 08:06 ]

A political analyst says the situation in Syria will only be resolved once President Bashar al-Assad leaves power - and predicts the army may instigate this.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (RECENT) (REUTERS) - The crisis in Syria will end with a military coup, a political analyst predicted on the anniversary of the uprising.

With the crackdown against dissent becoming increasingly severe, Lebanese political scientist Hilal Khashan said the high number of casualties indicated the Syrian government was in a desperate bid to deal with the situation militarily, before possible regional intervention.

But, he predicted, ultimately, it would be the Syrian army which would bring the crisis to a conclusion.

''I think that at the right moment, the army will carry out a coup. When the time comes, there will be a military coup which will send Assad and his family out of the country. With the increasing defections, the military will realise that if it does not do something to save the country and prevent the country from sliding into civil war along sectarian lines, the military, in the name of defending Syria and itself from questioning in the future, will do something that will decide the matter,'' said Khashan at the American University of Beirut.

As the anniversary of the uprising neared, the government appeared to intensify its drive to oust lightly armed rebels from their strongholds, using heavy artillery to subdue first Homs, then Idlib, which lies close to Turkey.

Khashan said he saw only one way out of the crisis.

"The head of the state will have to exit the scene, I see no other way,'' he said, adding that regional powers would not stand on the sidelines for much longer.

"Hafez al-Assad's main achievement was to prevent his country's neighbours from meddling in its affairs. The only significant achievement of his son is to bring them back into the country,'' said Khashan.

Some Arab governments, notably Qatar, have advocated establishing an Arab peace-keeping force and arming the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Those calls may be repeated at a meeting of Western and Arab states, the "Friends of Syria", in Istanbul on April 2.

But for activists working outside Syria, like Yara Nseir, civil war is the greatest fear.

Speaking in Beirut, she said the only one who could save the country from this fate was Assad himself, who has so far ignored calls to step down.

''It's in Bashar al-Assad's hands at this moment. He is the only one who can prevent the country from sliding into civil war and avoid the dangers of division and militarisation. It's in his hands and he is not willing to find a solution at all. He is just buying time politically and at the same time he is working on increasing the level of violence and increasing sectarian tension," said Nseir, accusing the Syrian government of turning a peaceful movement into a violent conflict.

Diplomats say the fighting is developing along sectarian lines. The Sunni Muslim majority, who make up 75 percent of the population of 23 million, is at odds with Assad's Alawite sect, which represents 10 percent but controls the levers of power.

But despite the situation in the country, one year on from the first protest, Assad is still at the helm, challenging the "Arab Spring" narrative of people power and defying predictions that his days are numbered.