So he says: "There were elements coalescing on the Left that were forcing reforms from the Assad government, which was responding. There was a trajectory that seemed to suggest that there would be some reforms that might begin to lean toward more progressive elements, but that process was destroyed when these external powers—the US, the Saudis, and others— decided that they were going to militarize the resistance, and create this impression that the Syrian people were prepared to engage in armed struggle." There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Bashshar Al-Asad ever considered serious reform in Syria. Ba`thist regimes are not capable of reform. Their very structures are based on family rule and repression and economic policies which benefit the interest of the regime--and they are quite flexible in economic policies to switch from quasi-socialism early on to neoliberalism later. Bashshar Al-Asad's idea of reform from very early on was in fact to distance the regime from quasi-socialist policies and to adopt neoliberal policies. The regime never for example attempted to root out the endemic corruption because they were part and parcel of the regime and the family rule. While I agree with his analysis of the external forces which were deployed in Syria, it does not in any way imply that Bashshar was about to enact reforms if only those outside powers did not intervene.