"A SWATHE of undecided Syrians in the middle ground are being wooed both by protesters who want to bring President Bashar Assad down and by purported reformers in the regime who want to prop him up. On June 20th Mr Assad made a bid for support with his third public speech since the crisis started three months ago, his first in two months. It was not a success. The protests—and the deaths—show no sign of letting up.
Mr Assad acknowledged that some of the protesters were peaceful, offered a “national dialogue”, promised yet again to enact reforms and talked of “making an amnesty more comprehensive”. But he also made a string of fanciful claims that alienated sceptics all the more. He said he cherished “the love…of those who represent most of Syria’s people.” The unrest, he said, was the result of a conspiracy carried out by criminals and extremists that was spreading like a “germ”.
On a more emollient note, he pledged to create a committee to look at ways of amending the constitution. He promised a law to regulate political parties, but made no mention of the role of his ruling Baath party as the sole arbiter of politics and social life. A new election, he said, would be held in August, but he offered no indication that it would be a more open affair than usual...
Meanwhile, the opposition, which dismissed Mr Assad’s speech out of hand, is trying to draw the silent majority into its movement....it is finding other ways, especially economic, of squeezing the regime....
Those in the middle are wary, not just because they fear violence. Hounded as it is by the regime, the opposition has yet to reassure ordinary Syrians of their credentials as future rulers... no strong figure has emerged as an overall leader..."
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:55 AM