Bashar al-Assad’s cabinet has approved a bill to allow independent political parties other than the Baath Party, which has been in control since 1963.
SANA a Syrian news agency reported that the bill prohibits parties founded on the basis of “religion, tribal affiliation, regions, and professional organizations as well as those which discriminate on the basis of race, sex, or color.” This suggests the Kurdish nationalist parties may not be recognized, along with the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist party currently banned in Syria, but snowballing in popularity in Egypt where disillusioned citizens lack leadership they can believe in and trust.
It is hard to imagine however, that Assad’s intentions can be in anyway, good. He is, after all, a murderer.
Under the new law the government will retain control over the formation of parties that must apply for a license in order to operate. All new parties are also obliged to respect the constitution, which protects the dominance of the Baath party as the “leading party in state and society” despite Assad’s promises to look at altering it.
According to human rights groups, more than 1,500 civilians have been killed and more than 12,000 detained since the uprising started in March of 2011. Activists have reported ongoing detentions throughout the country and a persistent clampdown in the neighborhood of Bab Sbaa in Homs.
As predicted, protests have intensified in the week leading up to Ramadan when diplomats and analysts say they expect demonstrations to grow in size and frequency.