BEIRUT

Middle East

Virginia senator heaps praise on Assad

Election posters of President Bashar al-Assad hang on a cigarette vendors stand in Jaramana near Damascus on May 28, 2014. AFP PHOTP/ LOUAI BESHARA

BEIRUT: A Virginia Senator has sent a letter of support to Syrian President Bashar Assad, thanking him for “rescuing” Christians in the Qalamoun region, fighting militants affiliated with Al-Qaeda and maintaining peace with Israel.

“I write to thank the Syrian Arab Army for its heroic rescue of Christians in the Qalamoun Mountain Range. I am especially grateful for the spectacular victory in Yabroud,” Richard Black wrote.

Black said Assad was following in the footsteps of his father Hafez by allowing Christians and Jews to worship freely.

The letter was posted on the Assad’s official Facebook page Sunday. The Washington Post confirmed Tuesday that the senator had penned the letter.

Dated April 1, the letter said: “If we were to topple President Assad, then Syria would be taken over by Al-Qaeda’s allies.

“I don’t need to debate anyone over whether he’s a great man or not, but to me, the decision is a very clear decision between Al-Qaeda and President Assad. Now President Assad and his father before him have maintained peace with Israel for 40 years.”

“Whatever a person’s view is of President Assad, he certainly has never exhibited the savagery of these jihadist groups fighting against him.”

Black has previously expressed support for Assad’s government. In an interview a month after deadly chemical attacks in rural Damascus in August were widely blamed on the regime, Black told reporters that there was no motive for the regime to use toxic gases.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 29, 2014, on page 8.

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