Prime Minister Adel Safar’s cabinet draft a low to end the state of emergency

Following the announcement yesterday that a draft law was approved by Prime Minister Adel Safar’s cabinet to end the state of emergency in the country, further details have been revealed. As well as the lifting of the state of emergency, the three draft bills approved yesterday and due to be confirmed by President Bashar al-Assad today will abolish the Supreme State Security Court (a powerful court run by the Ba’ath Party) and regulate the right to protest, reports the state-run Tishreen newspaper.

Al-Watan newspaper today reported that there will not be a new anti-terrorism law as has been speculated and that all cases before the SSSC will be passed on to civil courts. The measures, reports Al-Watan, mean that all protests will in the future need to be approved by the Interior Ministry – which raises questions about the who anti-government protests would be handled. Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar said recently that the public must “refrain from taking part in all marches, demonstrations or sit-ins,” SANA reported.

A US State Department spokesman has expressed concern over whether the new rules will be an improvement over the previous legislation.

Members of the Syrian opposition met in a restaurant in central London yesterday where, Al-Watan said, they plotted to encourage uprisings in Hassakeh and Aleppo, which would provide a pretext for the US to request a no-fly zone over Syria. Also, members of Syrian opposition groups abroad have said they plan to hold a conference in Cairo to discuss support for anti-Assad protesters. They said they have formed a coalition which includes human-rights groups and members of the Damascus Declaration abroad.

The Damascus Declaration is the most prominent opposition political force in Syria and includes the Arab nationalist National Democratic Gathering, the Kurdish Democratic Alliance, the Committees of Civil Society, the Kurdish Democratic Front and the Future Party. Formed in 2005, many of its members now live overseas.

Meanwhile Reuters reports a well-known leftist political activist and former political prisoner, Mahmoud Issa, was arrested in Homs last night, whilst prominent civic figures signed a declaration calling on the authorities “not to spill the blood of honourable Syrians” and denied allegations by the authorities that Salafist groups were operating in the city.

The Lebanese President Michel Suleiman spoke to President Assad yesterday, denying that Lebanon was behind alleged attempts to destabilise Syria, reports Cham Press, a private Syrian news agency. According to the report, Suleiman said: “Lebanon backs Syria’s stability and development and prosperity.”

According to the same source, influential MP and head of the Progressive Socialist Party in Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt, echoed this sentiment.

Jumblatt had been a supporter of the late President Hafez al-Assad, but upon his death in 2000 he campaigned for Damascus to end its military presence in parts of Lebanon. But in January this year he reaffirmed his support to Syria and Hezbollah.

In other news, Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Hassoun, denied reports that he had lent his support to the anti-government protests, a charge levied against him following a speech he made in Sanamein, near Dera’a.

Syria Today (Syria)