With the focus in Syria more on the incipient civil war than any calls for a negotiated settlement, Syrian President Bashar Assad surprised everyone by announcing a nationwide referendum on February 26.
The referendum would be for a new constitution that would revise significant sources of tension with the initial pro-democracy protest movement. It would allow political parties other than the Ba’athists to potentially rule and promise a more serious effort at freedom of speech.
The US, as is to be expected, angrily condemned the referendum, saying it was “quite laughable” and “makes a mockery” of the ongoing revolution. The State Department insisted that if Assad “really cares” he would resign immediately.
In many ways the US rejection is neither here nor there, but it points to international opposition to any reform process on general principle, and means that those pushing the FSA and other armed factions on their conflict will probably keep pushing no matter what the future brings.