Syria Promises Reform as Troops Take to Streets

Protests Continue as Officials Pledge End to 'Emergency Law'

Nearly a half century of emergency rule in Syria is “absolutely” coming to an end, according to a top adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Exactly when this will happen, however, remains a matter of considerable debate.

That’s because as with so many other regimes which have promised reforms and an end to draconian security laws, they set no actual timetable for when the laws, imposed in the wake of the 1963 Ba’athist coup, would actually happen.

The emergency law has been officially maintained because of the ongoing war with Israel, even though the two nations haven’t engaged in direct clashes in decades. The laws have mostly been used, however, as an excuse for mass detention of dissidents.

It is those detentions, more than anything else, which has spawned the major protests in southern Syria. The crackdowns against those protests, again under the guise of emergency law, fueled even more discontent.

The promise for an end to emergency rule also seems to be an idle one. Shortly after the latest pledge, President Assad ordered the army deployed to the port of Latakia to “keep order” in the face of potential protests there.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.