Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited a one-party regime from his father, has told the Wall Street Journal that he will push for more reforms in his country after the Egyptian riots.
"If you didn't see the need of reform before what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, it's too late to do any reform," Assad said in an interview in Damascus. "Syria is stable. Why, because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people. This is the core issue. When there is divergence you will have this vacuum that creates disturbances."
Assad has taken a popular stance with his public and among Arab countries in general, by funding and supporting terrorists organizations against Israeli in the region.
However, the pace of economic reform in Syria has been slow and al-Assad's rule has been unpopular.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood responded to Assad's comments with a statement, calling for "constitutional change to ensure the end of totalitarian rule, removing Article VIII of the constitution that imposes single-party rule; removing the emergency laws and the martial laws; eradicating corruption and prosecuting the corrupt, as well as recovering any money, and quickly resolve the problems of poverty, unemployment, starvation, and illiteracy."
There are also calls on Facebook for a Syrian "Day of Rage," supported by the Independent Islamic Bloc, a division of the "Damascus Declaration" opposition movement. The Syrian Brotherhood had previously announced its "total support for the Damascus Declaration" in anticipation of a "national congress on the path of democratic and peaceful change. Assad is reportedly meeting with security officials to move divisions from the Iraqi front to Damascus to deal with any protests.
Syria's failures mirror widespread corruption, poverty, and government mismanagement that started the Tunisian and Egyptians riots. Like Algeria and Jordan, Syria is maintaining costly but popular food subsidies. It's no guarantee for stability, as the measure failed to persuade Tunisian protesters to abandon their demonstrations.
Syria's government could be considered more repressive that other tottering regimes. "Mr. Assad's government, and that of his late father Hafez al-Assad, have been criticized as among the region's most repressive, detaining opponents without charges," the Journal interview said. "Syria's one-party political system and government-controlled media, meanwhile, are seen by many as more rigid than Egypt's or Tunisia's."