Syria: What Reforms While a Storm Is Building?

Syria underwent profound changes since 2005 in its regional and international positioning, as well as in its internal political situation. This policy brief discusses the domestic prospects for change and the potential for reforms and analyzes the impact of regional and international developments on the domestic situation. For the first time in decades, Syrian public opinion is critical of its authorities’ role in Lebanon, with the majority holding them responsible for the situation there. The economic situation has deteriorated to levels dangerous for social stability. Direct criticism of the President and his team by the business community is unprecedented. The opposition overcame its weaknesses and political and civil society movements signed the “Damascus Declaration” calling openly for peaceful “regime change”. The prospects for peaceful change depend on the findings of the UN investigation commission over the assassination of former Prime Minister of Lebanon Hariri, the ability of the opposition to propose a platform to demonstrate to the Syrian public that change will not lead to chaos; and the ability of the “power system” to respond intelligently to the combination of international pressures and internal challenges on the economic, social and political front.

The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.