Will Syria Be Next Revolution?

Protesters haven't backed down in Syria.

President Bashar al-Assad made an unprecedented pledge of greater freedom and more prosperity to Syrians Thursday as anger mounted following a crackdown on protesters that left at least 37 dead.

As an aide to Assad in Damascus read out a list of decrees, which included a possible end to 48 years of emergency rule, a human rights group said a leading pro-democracy activist, Mazen Darwish, had been arrested.

Assad's vague offers reek of fear and desparation.

In the southern city of Deraa, a hospital official said at least 37 people had been killed there Wednesday when security forces opened fire on demonstrators inspired by uprisings across the Arab world that have shaken authoritarian leaders.

Announcing the sort of concessions that would have seemed almost unimaginable three months ago in Syria, Assad adviser Bouthaina Shaaban told a news conference the president had not himself ordered his forces to fire on protesters:

"I was a witness to the instructions of His Excellency that live ammunition should not be fired -- even if the police, security forces or officers of the status were being killed."