Facing nationwide uprisings, Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad appears to be on the same trajectory of other Arab tyrants brought down by popular revolt in recent weeks.
With the regime's security forces having killed more than 170 demonstrators in 14 cities over the last week, Assad yesterday tried to calm the situation by making four promises.
First, he said he'd lift the state of emergency the Ba'athist regime imposed in 1964. But it isn't clear when and how that might be done -- and Assad made the same promise almost 11 years ago, when he succeeded his father as Syrian president.
Anger unleashed: Anti- and pro-government protesters clashed after prayers in Damascus, Syria, last Friday. The Assad regime's security agents have killed more than 170 peaceful protesters in the last week. -
Sources in Damascus tell me that the emergency may be phased out in some provinces but would remain in force in major cities, including the capital.
Second, Assad vowed that he'd form a new Cabinet to replace that of Naji al-Atri, who has been forced to resign. Syrians, however, know that the prime minister and his Cabinet count for little: Power is concentrated in the hands of the president and his shadowy security services.
Third, he's promising constitutional amendments to forbid anyone from becoming president for life. But he's making it clear that any such reform wouldn't apply to him. At age 45, he hopes to remain in power at least as long as hi... >>>
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