A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Syria Pledges Reforms after Deraa

Amid a flurry of reports suggesting the number killed in Deraa in the last few days may be much higher than the 15 or so generally reported (with some estimates in the hundreds), the Syrian government has announced that it is studying a number of reforms, including lifting the Emergency law, permitting the licensing of political parties, freeing the press, and raising salaries, and that President Asad has ordered security services not to open fire on protesters. Also, public sector employees will be given a raise and health insurance.

This shows that the regime is worried; the question is whether by offering concessions early (as has also been done by the Kings of Jordan and Morocco and the Sultan in Oman), they can blunt the force of the protests, or whether the rising fury over the deaths in Deraa (now said to include some young children) may have ignited a flame that will be hard to extinguish.

Tomorrow has been declared a day of rage in Yemen, in Syria, and elsewhere. Another critical Friday approaches. Salih in Yemen may be on his final glidepath I suspect, while Syria could be jusat taking off.

1 comment:

Al Farabi said...

Note that Shaaban announced the end of law no. 49 in Syria. This is the law that allows punishment by death for any association with Muslim Brotherhood. This is a sea-change in Syria and I suspect will probably get lost in the mix of other major changes announced today, i.e. change in political party formation, changes in media, etc. All of which are very signficant. However, I am skeptical of ending the emergency law. The announcement was just to study it, not implementation.