SYRIA MOUNTS PRO-REGIME PROTESTS and other responses to its political/diplomatic problems:

Officials are talking about rationing some consumer goods to manage the impact of sanctions, and are considering other measures, like releasing political prisoners or making overtures toward cleaning up corruption, as a means of rallying support, the analysts and people who work with the government said.

The efforts, however, may not provide much of a salve. At least one Kurdish leader, for example, said he doubted the government’s sincerity, and viewed its offers as far too little to make a difference.

“If they don’t allow for real freedoms and resolve internal problems, the people will not be behind them,” said Kheir al-Deen Murad, secretary general of the Kurdish Azadi Party in Syria. “They have to open up the political life.”

They are, however, deploying pro-regime protest babes. As arms-races go, this is pretty benign, at least!

UPDATE: Reader Russell Mitchell emails: “The pro-regime babes aren’t doing one thing… .. smiling. Tells you all you need to know.”