DHAKA: Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published on Thursday that he would have been toppled long ago like the shah of Iran if his people did not support him.
‘Everybody was calculating that I would fall in a small amount of time. They all miscalculated’, Assad told the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, which has published excerpts from its interview with the Syrian leader over the past three days.
He said Syria, where an initially peaceful revolt against 42 years of Assad family rule began in March 2011, was under attack from Islamist militants sent by malevolent Arab countries, and was threatened by Western enmity and Turkish hostility.
‘The big game targeting Syria is much bigger than we expected’, Assad said, reports The Jerusalem Post.
‘The aim is to break up Syria or trigger a civil war. The fight against terrorism will continue decisively in the face of this. And we will defeat terror.’
Assad responded violently to popular demonstrations at the outset of the uprising and has since used tanks, artillery, helicopter gunships, troops and militiamen to try to crush armed rebels and deter Syrians from challenging his power.
He contends that most of Syria’s 23 million people are on his side in the struggle.
‘The overwhelming majority of the people think like me on this subject’, he told Cumhuriyet.
Assad contrasted himself with the late shah of Iran, who was toppled by the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
‘He led the most important country in the region, he had a powerful army and was supported by the whole world. So was he able to stand up against the people? No’, Assad said.
‘If I had been in the same situation, that is if I didn’t have the people behind me, I could not have resisted. I would have been overthrown. How come I’m still standing?’
BDST: 1731 HRS, JUL 5, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor
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