06-22-2011, 08:17 PM
Last week, stories surfaced in the Lebanese and Arabic press, saying that Syria was about to do away with Article 8 of the constitution that designates the Ba'ath Party as "leader of state and society." This of course was before President Bashar al-Assad gave a speech on Monday, hinting to the possibility of either doing away with Article 8, or changing the entire Syrian Constitution. It was the first time since 1963 that a Syrian president made mention of Article 8 and the first time that a presidential address acknowledged the fact that there is an "opposition" in Syria. . . . Pragmatic officials within Ba'ath are also pushing for cancelation of Article 8, claiming that to survive the Ba'ath regime has to reform from within. Otherwise, simply put, it will collapse. The Syrian government cannot continue to rule with the same methods, tools, and figures that have dominated public life since 1970. . . . A real pluralist system does not threaten Ba'athists, for now, because they remain the largest party with the highest organizational skills and treasury. They currently stand at 2.8 million, and even if 2 million drop out if the party no longer rules, they would remain 800,000 -- larger than any other in Syria.