“We will know in the next few days whether this regime is committing suicide or whether it still has some survival instincts left,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, an analyst who returned recently from a six-month fellowship at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.
Michel Kilo, a pro-democracy activist, said Assad’s focus on the economy shows he is a proponent of the “Chinese model,” a reference to that country’s policy of liberalizing the economy while resisting political change.
Abdulhamid said the conference will likely aim to give Syrians a socio-economic package that will appeal to the grass roots.
“It’s the strategy of somebody desperately clinging to power,” he said. “There is so much lack of skill and know-how and so much corruption that they really cannot implement a good package.”