Amid Massacre, Assad Announces ‘Reform’

Legalization of Opposition Parties Dismissed as 'Attempt to Divert Attention'

With the Hama massacre moving into its fifth day, Syrian President Bashar Assad has announced he is formalizing a promised reform to legalize opposition parties, following the law’s passage in Syrian parliament.

Syrian opposition figures were quick to condemn the announcement, saying it was an “attempt to divert attention” from the violent massacre, which has sparked international condemnation.

Of course the Assad regime has attempted to divert attention in the past with announced reforms, but in this case it appears to be entirely unrealistic, as the sheer size of the massacre makes the paltry reform mostly irrelevant.

And indeed, it isn’t clear how far the reform will even stretch, as the parliament’s measure put a number of restrictions on the sorts of parties that would be allowed, banning religious or ethnically based parties.

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.