BEIRUT – Under intense pressure from Arab states, Syria has signed a pact to pull its armed forces from the streets, release political prisoners and engage with opposition groups after seven months of unrest that has ravaged the strategically situated nation and unsettled the entire region.
On the surface, the move appears to be a major concession from an increasingly isolated President Bashar Assad, who has been the target of international condemnation and sanctions squeezing his nation’s economy.
But some of Assad’s opponents question whether the agreement signals a true change in attitude to the uprising or is simply an effort to buy time for his regime.
The deal, brokered by the Arab League, was announced late Wednesday in Cairo after talks between ministers from Syria and other Arab nations. The Syrian government’s crackdown has angered fellow Arab nations, many of which face their own internal pressure for reform.