NEW YORK, Feb 1: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has hailed Iran's Islamic Revolution, saying it has launched a new era in the Middle East.
"It is a new era, but it did not start now. It started with the Iranian revolution [in 1979],” said Assad in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, which appeared on the US daily on Monday.
“What is new is that it is happening inside independent countries in the Arab world," he underlined.
Assad's comments came after Tunisia's recent revolution ended the 23-year-long rule of the country's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sent him fleeing to Saudi Arabia.
Heartened by the movement, people have started anti-government protests in Yemen, Jordan and Egypt, which is witnessing the most determined demonstrations in the region.
Assad reminded how people in Iraq staged a revolution against the executed dictator Saddam Hussein in 1991, but "it was oppressed with the support of the United States especially in the south." "They…allowed him to oppress the people in the south, the Shias at that time,” he recalled.
The Syrian leader said his country is stable despite all difficult conditions imposed by the West, suggesting that Syria owes its stability to poor relations with Washington.
"Egypt...enjoys financial support from the United States while Syria is under embargo by most countries of the world," he noted. "They tell you move faster and at the same time they impose an embargo."
Assad also advised the Arab states in the region "to upgrade yourself with the upgrading of the society."
Syria's president also called on Arab leaders "to improve your relations with every country and not to make it worse with any country, especially in an area where we need a big country like Iran."
"It is a big country, it is important, it is geo-politically an important country; nobody can overlook Iran whether you like it or not, this is the first point,” he added.