Syria Sends Mixed Signals to Demonstrators in Homs

Protestors in Syria were subjected to a strong mixture of concessions with repression as government forces clamped down on demonstrators in Homs, Syria’s third largest city, leaving at least two dead on Tuesday.

The demonstrators had rallied together to create one of Syria’s largest gatherings, an Egyptian-inspired sit-in at the city’s largest public square only to be dispersed violently by the Syrian police, army and other forces, who had the square cleared by early Tuesday morning.

Just hours later the government announced sweeping reforms, specifying exactly what the government would do to follow up on its general promise to create major changes in policy last Saturday. Among the reforms announced will be the repeal of an emergency law which has been in force since the Baath Party seized power in 1963.

President Bashar Assad, or the Parliament, must approve the repeal, but that action is considered to be just a formality. Demonstrators expressed concern that the decision to reform is also a mere formality, wondering whether they will ever see any real changes in the iron grip the government has over the people.