Syria, Iran Hail 'Martyr', 'Honorable' Chavez

Syria pays tribute to "honorable" Chavez, while Iran hails the late Venezuelan leader as "a martyr for his people."

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez

Syrian state media paid tribute to late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez on Wednesday, saying he had taken an "honorable" position on the two-year-old uprising against the Damascus regime.

The Venezuelan president, known for his anti-Semitic and anti-American tendencies, passed away on Tuesday following a two-year battle with cancer.

Chavez "stood on the side of the Arabs' legitimate rights," said a commentary carried by SANA state news agency. "He took an honorable stance regarding the conspiracy against Syria."

Chavez was a staunch supporter of President Bashar al-Assad and maintained close ties with his regime even as the revolt degenerated into a bloody civil war, drawing mounting international support for the armed opposition.

Chavez "repeatedly expressed his solidarity with the Syrian leadership and people, who have been faced with a savage imperialist attack. He denounced American pressure on Syria," SANA reported.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad also expressed his condolences over the passion of the Venezuelan dictator saying, "he was a martyr for his people," and that he "defended human and revolutionary values."

The Iranian President announced that Wednesday would be a national day of mourning in memory of Chavez.

State news agency IRNA reported that Ahmadenijad may attend Chavez's funeral on Friday.

Anti-Semitism in Venezuela sky-rocketed in recent years, resulting in a dramatic reduction in Jewish population. Before Chavez came to power, the Jewish community amounted to approximately 30,000, while today its numbers reach a mere 9,000.

Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism noted in September that Venezuela has witnessed a rise in  “anti-Semitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions."