An opposition conference in the Sheraton Hotel in Damascus, the intentions and justifications of its direct organizers notwithstanding, comes as a way for Bashar Al-Assad to perform that longed-for trick that can keep him in power.
The Assad regime is undertaking a major PR campaign to whitewash its image, one that includes allowing access to international media outlets to “certain” areas of the country under “certain” restrictions, and working with certain hand-picked members of the internal opposition to create the impression of openness, and to allow Bashar Al-Assad to appear as a man trying to rise up to the challenges of reform. The hope is to fool those willing to be fooled both in Syria and across the world. For, if enough of them are around, the regime will use that to weaken the morale of the protesters and put an end to the revolution that threatened its existence.
But just as this revolution was not the product of a magic trick, its end will not be brought about by a magic trick. Much effort and sacrifice have gone into brining this revolution to term, and now that it has been delivered, the courage, sacrifices and dedication of the protesters will ensure that it is not stillborn. This baby is healthy. This baby will live on and will become the foundation of a new Syria.