“We refuse a forced change of the regime by a foreign power…This is a red line“, says Hasan Abdul-Azim, the head of a Syrian coalition of banned opposition parties.
Their battle is now against American threats towards Syria. The irony for Washington is that their hostility towards Syria has actually increased support for the government. It has also entrenched the government, and made reform more difficult.
However, diplomats and analysts believe that the President will finally usher in radical change to Syria at this June’s party conference. Reformist President Bashar Al-Assad has already crossed one of Syria’s so-called red-lines by withdrawing from Lebanon.
Some have suggested a degree of political pluralilty will be allowed – with independent parties allowed. Others suggest that independent newspapers will be allowed to operated freely (they were allowed in 2000, but the last one ‘Ad-Domari, recently closed under government pressure). There are also hopes that the emergency law will fianlly be lifted.
Despite a healthy and hopeful Syrian-based opposition, there was universal condemnation for parties with no local support, like the US-based ‘Reform Party of Syria’. The party’s leader, Farid Ghadry, is derided as a war salesman, of the Ahmed Chalabi/Michel Aoun school of politics.