At first glance to supporters for peace and democracy in the Middle East this is a positive sign. Unfortunately as is usually the case when the head of any regime makes a statement, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Granted Bashar has taken some giant leaps economically, by letting in foreign banks and opening its borders to importers which has lead to a major boost in the private sector.
However, these freedoms enjoyed economically have not translated to better human rights in Syria. People who speak out against the President or the military are frequently jailed. Bashar might be conducting some pre-emptive damage control or he might actually understand that change is imminent. The longer this revolt continues on virtually unchallenged, the more confidence and boldness the Arab community will gain. Trying to stifle a revolt such as this one has proved impossible to stop or even slow down as it gained moment and perhaps Bashar understands this.
The President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, has tried everything besides slaughtering his people to try and stop this movement. First the blackout to cell phones and the internet, then came the police, once they fled the army was brought in. Yet the protesters continue to walk the streets where and when they want and continue to break the curfew which was recently extended from 4:00 P.M to 3:00 P.M.
The internet blackout has shown to be completely useless, as the Egyptians have found a clever way to connect despite attempts by the government. By calling someone from outside of the country they can form a weak a dial up connection and continue to spam Twitter and Facebook with updates of events.
Regardless of Bashar’s actual intentions, his statement has acknowledged the power of the revolution in Egypt. My advice to Bashar would be to deliver on what he has promised. Otherwise, the crosshairs of this spreading revolt might settle squarely on his regime next.