Syria's New Citizens
"The Syrian president on Thursday granted citizenship to thousands of Kurds living in a northeastern province, fulfilling a key demand by the country's long ostracized minority and making yet another overture amid extraordinary anti-government protests that have shaken Bashar Assad's authoritarian regime.
"State-run television said Assad issued a decree granting citizenship to more than 250,000 Kurds registered as aliens in the Hasaka province records. In a separate decree, Assad sacked the governor of central Homs province that has been the scene of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in the past three weeks...
"Kurds - the largest ethnic minority in Syria - make up 15 percent of the country's 23 million population and have long complained of neglect and discrimination. Some 250,000 Kurds have been denied citizenship, making it difficult to find work or enroll in the state-run education system.
"The government had argued that they are not Syrians but Kurds who fled to the country from neighboring Turkey or Iraq."
I don't actually believe that younger rulers are more likely to reform, but in Assad's case the perception that he is, combined with these sorts of measures, may serve him in good stead.