Is the Syrian Government for real in its claim that it will soon allow the formation of political parties other than the ruling, dictatorial Baath party? It is difficult to feel very optimistic about any promise that comes from the mouth of President Assad's regime. Is it possible that the regime has been left with no alternative but to embrace reform, however little it really relishes the prospect of so doing? Given how many of its own people the regime is happy to kill, one really has to wonder - let's just say that the proof of this particular pudding will be very much in the eating. It would be marvellous if President Assad was Syria's answer to Mikhail Gorbachev or FW de Klerk, but I'm not exactly holding my breath.