Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Is Syria Ready To Accept Reforms?

The Syrian Poeple Make Their Final Demand

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

The Syrian government accepts it has to embrace reform and move towards democracy, a key advisor said today. Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, senior advisor to President Bashar al Assad, said he wants change because otherwise the country itself would be at risk to Muslim brotherhood’s influences.

Dr. Shaaban was spook to Jeremy Thompson, who is part of a small group of media allowed into Syria under government supervision.

She said: "Everybody now, both the opposition and the Government recognizes that the country is at stake and there is no other way except to go forward.
Jeremy Thompson

"In fact it will be very good for our country, for the people, this march towards democracy where political parties will compete and young men and women participate in political life. We look forward to a very different era in Syrian history."

The opposition claims that more than 1,400 people have been killed - many of them unarmed protesters - since pro-democracy demonstrations began in March.

But the government is blaming the deaths on a minority of religious extremists and pointed out that hundreds of military and police figures have also died.

Dr. Shaaban said "It is definitely a huge concern for us and we condemn the violence but they should condemn also the killing of our military people, our armed people, and our police. Over 500 military and police personnel have been killed by militant groups.”

She continued "Personally I feel there is an organized group, most likely religious extremists, who are conducting assassinations and killings. When you have a violent atmosphere, collateral damage happens."

She added: "We hope that by conducting and hastening the national dialogue, we will be able to isolate any militant or violent group and work together with the international community to overcome that big problem."

She also insisted: "We have no problem at all with peaceful demonstrations" and promised free access to all media outlets to all parts of Syria to cover the protests.

Critics of the authoritarian regime met in Damascus on Monday to call for a peaceful transition to democracy and an end al-Baath rule in Syria. 
President al-Assad's

The public summit was the first since the uprising against President al-Assad's rule started and was conducted with the consent of the government.

The regime appeared to be feeling the pressure of the protest movement and was anxious to show it was prepared to make concessions.

A final communiqué agreed at the meeting called for an immediate end to the crackdown, the withdrawal of the army from towns and villages and a peaceful move to democracy.

The government announced a national political dialogue would start on July 10 with all "factions, intellectual personalities, politicians" invited to take part.

Syria's state-run news agency said the agenda would include constitutional amendments, including access for other political parties as well as the ruling Baath Party.

The US welcomed the meeting but said it would not be a significant step forward unless the violent crackdown on civilians was brought to an end.

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