Gates urges Syrians "take lesson" from Egypt revolt

Gates urges Syrians "take lesson" from Egypt revolt
# 26 March 2011 13:30 (UTC +04:00)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has faced nearly a week of protests, inspired by uprisings against authoritarian rulers across the Arab world.

"I would say that what the Syrian government is confronting is in fact the same challenge that faces so many governments across the region, and that is the unmet political and economic grievances of their people," Gates said during a visit to Israel.

"Some of them are dealing with it better than others. I’ve just come from Egypt, where the Egyptian army stood on the sidelines and allowed people to demonstrate and in fact empowered a revolution. The Syrians might take a lesson from that," he told reporters.

Dozens of demonstrators have been killed by troops in almost a week of violence centred on the southern Syrian city of Deraa.

Assad, a close ally of Iran, key player in neighbouring Lebanon and supporter of anti-Israel militants, had dismissed rising reform calls in the country of 20 million people run by the Baath Party since a 1963 coup.

On Thursday, however, he made an unprecedented pledge of greater freedom and more prosperity to Syrians.
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