Even as we learn more today about a deadly crackdown on protesters by Syrian security forces around Homs that has left over 20 people dead, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has announced via state television that he will grant a general amnesty to all members of political movements, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, for "crimes" committed during the uprising (the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency is also running the news as a banner). The announcement comes as the death of a 13-year-old boy galvanizes the protest movement.
So, is Assad making a meaningful gesture? Some opposition leaders are telling AFP that the amnesty is "not enough" and "very late," and The Atlantic's Max Fisher claims that the move is "irrelevant" given that Assad is "still attacking civilians." Over at The Guardian, Fadwa al-Hatem, reflecting on another recent government measure promising fair elections, adds, "The people want the torture, killings and arrests to stop, full stop; they want their dignity back; they want an end to the endemic corruption and a dismantlement of the intrusive secret police. Genuine political reform can never be possible while your own people are being killed in the streets." It's also interesting that the regime is offering Syrian political movements amnesty given that officials have generally blamed the unrest in the country on armed groups and foreign actors.