Syria endorses law to allow other parties alongside ruling Baath - The Times of India
DAMASCUS: Syria's government, under massive pressure to reform or quit, has adopted a draft law allowing for new political parties to operate alongside the ruling Baath party.
The decision was taken late on Sunday, the state-run news agency SANA reported, as security forces pressed on with their crackdown on dissent and launched a wave of arrests in Damascus, activists said.
The cabinet "adopted a draft law regarding political parties in Syria as part of a programme of reform aimed at enriching the political life," SANA said.
The plan is to create a "new dynamic and allowing for a change in political power" in Syria, one of the Middle East's most autocratic countries which has been under Baath rule for nearly five decades.
While any progress is heartening, I would not put too much credence into the notion of Assad finally giving in. The law, which is being drafted by a government that has been killing hundreds of protesters in the past few months, stipulates that parties may not be based around "religion, tribal affiliation, or regional interests." Also, "party principles, objectives and funding must be clearly established, it said." These could foster a better political system, but the Baathist party could also use these measures to crack down on dissent. However, I see this as more good news than bad news, and at the very least Assad's crackdown is not nearly as brutal as his father's in the 1980's. The most important thing is that there is some hope for the Syrian people.