Syrian President Bashar Assad has warned the West of an “earthquake” across the Middle East if Western powers intervene in Syria.
Speaking to the British Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Assad said western countries “are going to ratchet up the pressure, definitely.”
“But Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen,” he added. “The history is different. The politics is different. Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake.”
“Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?” Assad said. “Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region.”
The Syrian President has previously warned that he has “surprises” in store if foreign forces intervene. He did not offer detail, but Assad is suspected of stockpiling chemical weapons.
Assad also claimed in the Telegraph interview that the current crisis in Syria is related to a Muslim Brotherhood uprising in the city of Hama in 1982, in which his father, former President Hafez Assad, killed many thousands.
“We’ve been fighting the Muslim Brotherhood since the 1950s and we are still fighting with them,” Assad said, admitting authorities had made “many mistakes” in the early part of the uprising, but claiming the situation had now improved.
Assad also claimed he had started implementing reform within a week of the troubles erupting in mid-March.
“The pace of reform is not too slow,” he said. “The vision needs to be mature. It would take only 15 seconds to sign a law, but if it doesn't fit your society, you’ll have division.”
Assad’s warnings came after a bloody weekend in Syria, as his troops continued their bloody crackdown on anti-regime protesters.
Activists told the Reuters news agency that Syrian forces killed more than 50 civilians in the last 48 hours and one activist group said army deserters killed 30 soldiers in clashes in the city of Homs and in an ambush in the northern province of Idlib on Saturday.
On Friday, Assad held a meeting with an Arab League delegation led by Qatar, in an attempt to mediate an end to the seven month uprising.
Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Bin Jabr Al Thani said after the meeting the Arab delegation felt that the Syrian government is eager to work with the Arab committee “in order to reach a solution.”
Hamad also told reporters the Arab committee and the Syrian government will hold another meeting on Sunday either in Syria or in Qatar.
Reuters reported that while Western nations have not yet called to hold an operation in Syria similar to the one held in Libya, demonstrators are increasingly calling for a “no-fly zone” over their country.