In a move which mirrored previous attempts by other officials to placate Arab Spring pro-democracy protests, Syrian President Bashar Assad today made vague promises of reforms while accusing certain protest elements of being “saboteurs.”
As in past cases, the protesters had sought very specific reforms initially and might well have been open to accepting the deal months ago. After months of violent crackdowns, however, the promises ring hollow and the speech has impressed few.
That is true internationally as well, with European Union officials angrily condemning the speech and threatening additional sanctions against Assad if he didn’t take unspecified actions to remedy the situation.
The real issue with the promises is not simply their lack of specificity, however, but the fact that the violent crackdowns are continuing nationwide. With military action continuing to escalate the protesters are only digging their heels in more, and the promise of reforms simply cannot be a “dual-track” effort with military offensives.
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