Dialogue with the regime hurts the cause of democracy in Syria because Assad is either unwilling or unable to reform and will work instead on co-opting and dividing the opposition movement through the offer of ultimately non-substantive dialogue. Assad’s two-pronged strategy of repression and concession is meant to divide the opposition movement by giving its members false hopes and bogus promises to address their demands.
The majority of Syrian protesters have rejected Assad’s initiatives, but it is possible that some protesters have been convinced or that others have been tempted to accept his offer. If that is the case, the opposition movement could be losing some of its members and, no matter how few these may be, it is a setback to the cause. Size does matter in this context, and it is crucial that the opposition movement reaches a critical mass to be able to apply pressure on the regime and win the serious attention of the international community.