- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
In addition to his longtime friend Muammar al-Qaddafi, Hugo Chavez is now speaking out in support of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad:
"Now some supposed political protest movements have begun (in Syria), a few deaths … and now they are accusing the president of killing his people and later the Yankees will come to bomb the people to save them," Chavez said in a televised speech.
The anti-government protests erupted nationwide in Syria on Friday, and follow unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya in what has been called the Arab Spring.
Chavez has developed close ties to Gadhafi and Assad over the years.
"How cynical is the new format the empire has invented, to generate violent conflict, generate blood in a country, to later bombard it, intervene and take over its natural resources and convert it into a colony," he said. Chavez often refers to the United States as the empire.
Chavez said he spoke to Assad late Friday and referred him as our "brother."
Assad, who opponents have called a repressive autocrat, "is a humanist, doctor, educated in London, in no way an extremist; he is a man of great human sensitivity," said Chavez. "We salute him from here."
Chavez clearly wasn’t watching Face the Nation on Sunday, or he would have seen Secretary of State Hillary Clinton give the empire’s new official line on Assad:
"There is a different leader in Syria now, many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer,"