Yet another Middle Eastern dictator is on the run. President Bashar al Assad, whose family has ruled Syria with an iron fist for the last 40 years, is facing the biggest-ever challenge to his rule. Friday is likely to be critical, after a call for mass demonstrations around the country.

Yesterday, President Assad was forced to promise a wave of political reforms -- including maybe lifting the 50-year state of emergency -- after security forces killed 100 demonstrators in the southern town of Daraa.