The Syrian government says the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad is under control, said Bouthaina Shaaban, a senior official in al-Assad’s administration. According to Shaaban, protests have begun to wane after repeated and sustained crackdowns. Shaaban’s attitude had changed drastically from two weeks ago, when al-Assad’s position seemed less certain. Since the beginning of the uprising seven weeks ago, 580 people have been killed. And over the weekend, more than 350 people — including a 10-year-old child — were arrested.
Al-Assad’s administration is attempting to skew the conflict as one between the government forces and a band of “fundamentalists, extremists, smugglers, people who are ex-convicts and are being used to make trouble,” said Shaaban. “We want to use what happened to Syria as an opportunity. We see it as an opportunity to try to move forward on many levels, especially the political level,” she continued. But many, including those inside the administration, are skeptical of the government’s ability to survive. “Assad is not capable of implementing these reforms,” the official said. “He’s not capable. He knows that if he did, it would be the end of him. He would fall.”