Human Rights Watch has called for an end to the recent wave of arrests of activists in Syria. Nothing new there, but their Middle East Director has chosen her words carefully:
“President al-Asad needs to rein in his internal security forces,” says Sarah Leah Whitson. She suggests that the mukhabaraat are operating with a degree of freedom. She also implies that Bashar is a moderating force in government – something that Syria-watchers have said for many years.
Human Rights Watch say that Syria has liberalised in recent years, but is now going backwards:
“As long as people like these are hauled off without a charge, it is hard to believe that anything has changed in Syria.”
Meanwhile, there are reports that Ayman Abdul Nour – Ba’ath party reformer and founder of all4syria.org, the newsletter which points out government failures – is moving his campaign outside Syria fearing a purge of liberals. That would be another major blow to Syria’s reformists.