Even by its own unrivaled standard of hypocrisy, the Assad regime’s "reform" permitting the formation of new political parties is prize-winning.
According to Reuters, under Syria’s new political parties law "The establishment of any party has to be based on ... a commitment to the constitution, democratic principles, the rule of law and a respect for freedom and basic rights."
This law would theoretically end the monopoly of the Baath Party. Of course, were parties in Syria actually required to be committed to democracy and human rights, much less the rule of law, the Baath Party itself would be viewed--accurately--as a criminal organization. This "reform" is yet another effort by the Assad regime to portray itself as open to genuine change, even as its forces kill unarmed demonstrators in Syria’s streets.
No Syrian will be fooled by this move, and few foreigners will be either. Yet even by mendaciously honoring the need for open political competition, it is another step toward the demise of the Assad clan’s bloody rule over Syria.