Syrian anti-government protesters march during a demonstration in Banias, Syria on Sunday. Image Credit: AP

The abolition of Syria's 48-year-old emergency law after weeks of nationwide protests can only be seen as a start to government reforms, and not by any means a sufficient response to popular demands for more transparency and inclusion. The Syrian government will be making a serious mistake if it dismisses all future protesters as saboteurs and trouble-makers. The huge crowds gathering almost daily include many tens of thousands of citizens who have valid questions which need a serious response.

The government appointed by President Bashar Al Assad is in danger of offering far too little, much too late. It is, of course, a good thing that the old law has been removed, but the government still has substantial resources under its control which will continue to operate despite the lifting of the emergency law. There are more than eight different intelligence services under the control of various military, security, paramilitary and police authorities, all of which have the authority to investigate and detain as they see fit, without judicial supervision.

Syria needs to move towards instituting a more transparent judiciary, so that there can be effective rule of law, which means that the government and all its various agencies have to follow the law. The government needs to become more transparent about its actions, so that the people know what has been done in their name. And officials need to take responsibility and answer to the public for their actions.

If Al Assad takes Syria in this direction, the still-lingering support that he carries will be a substantial political asset for him. But if he allows the hardliners to dominate his government's policies, the outlook for stability in Syria will get increasingly dim.

Syria is coming to a major political crossroads, and it is not clear that the government has any plans to become more inclusive or transparent. This will only lead to more and more protests.