Syria detains ‘tolerated’ opposition figure on border with Lebanon

Accused of ‘weakening national sentiment’

DAMASCUS - Syrian authorities detained a veteran dissident living in Damascus on Wednesday as he tried to leave the country to visit his family in Spain, his party said.
Louay Hussein is part of the regime-tolerated opposition, but is especially outspoken and recently published a stinging statement that said President Bashar al-Assad's regime is "collapsing".
He also called for the opposition and the regime to form a "coalition" government.
"The Syrian authorities arrested Syrian opponent Louay Hussein, who heads the Building the Syrian State (movement)... on the Syrian-Lebanese border," the movement said in a statement.
Hussein was heading to Lebanon, from where he planned to fly to Spain, where his family live.
Hussein has long been an opponent of the Assad clan, which has ruled Syria for 40 years.
In 2011, he was detained after he expressed solidarity with protesters in Damascus who had taken to the streets to denounce a government crackdown in the southern province of Daraa, birthplace of the anti-Assad revolt.
Under the iron rule of Hafez al-Assad, the president's father, Hussein spent seven years in jail.
On November 4, Hussein said in a widely distributed statement: "The Assad regime is falling apart and collapsing... The fact that Assad is still in his palace with thousands of troops and fighters guarding him doesn't change anything."
Hussein called for "a political solution" to the conflict, which has killed more than 195,000 people since its outbreak nearly four years ago.
He also called for the regime and opposition to create a "coalition" government to replace Assad's rule.
After his arrest, a court judge accused him of "weakening national sentiment" and "weakening the nation's mood", according to his party.
The authorities have consistently launched similar accusations against critics and opponents.
Hussein was born in 1960 and, like the Assad clan, belongs to the Alawite sect.
Syria's revolt began as a peaceful movement calling for democratic change but evolved into a Sunni-led insurgency after Assad unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.