RealNews

Syrians have low hopes for Baath Party Congress

Promises that major internal reforms could be announced at a Baath Party conference, set to begin today in Damascus, have Syrians waiting to see whether democratic changes may finally be on the horizon after five years of stalled reforms. “Expectations are down,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert who runs Syriacomment.com, a Weblog on Syrian affairs. “The president promised there was going to be a big leap. Everybody began hoping that this would be the break that would change the country and set it on a different course. Then the president was the leading person trying to bring down expectations.” In an address to Parliament in March, Assad promised that the Baath Party Congress would be a “great turning point” for internal reforms in the country. Syria has since hastily withdrawn its military forces from Lebanon, a move that many believe has weakened its role in the region. But under mounting U.S. pressure over the last few months, many here have been hoping that the government would begin to concede some much-awaited internal reforms in order to strengthen itself internally. Full Story

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