BEIRUT, (AP) – Syria’s president says the protests in Tunisia and Egypt are ushering in a “new era” in the Arab world but that his country is immune to that kind of unrest.
Bashar Assad told the Wall Street Journal in a rare interview that Syria is stable despite having more “difficult circumstances” than the rest of the Arab world. The interview was published Monday.
The 45-year-old British-trained eye doctor inherited power from his father, Hafez, in 2000, after three decades of iron-fisted rule.
Assad has since moved slowly to lift Soviet-style economic restrictions, letting in foreign banks, throwing the doors open to imports and empowering the private sector.
But Assad has not matched liberal economics with political reforms and critics of the regime are routinely jailed.