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Movement on the Part of Assad

July 25, 2011

In Syria, Bashar Assad has finally relented to pressure and is allowing the formation of political parties (other than Ba’athists) in fifty years.

However, things may not always be as they seem, nor might they work out the way we think:

Gary Gambill, general editor of the Middle East Forum and an expert on Syrian politics, said the move is significant primarily in its symbolism.

“This is mainly symbolic, but the devil is in the details. Most autocratic Arab governments officially have multiparty systems – Egypt and even Tunisia ostensibly had parties other than the ruling one,” he told The Jerusalem Post by phone from Philadelphia. “The big questions deal with the electoral process, such as whether there is monitoring of the elections.”

[…]

He added, “We saw that his lifting of the emergency law wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.” The Assad regime lifted the decades-old emergency law in April, but the move meant little on the ground, where its security forces continued its violent crackdown against protesters.

To be sure, the world will continue to watch.

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