3:51pm

Tue May 10, 2011
The Two-Way

'No Way Out' For Syrian Regime, Prominent Dissident Says

The escalating crackdown that has meant an increasing number of deaths is not going to stop the Syrian people from continuing to protest against the regime of President Bashar Assad, a prominent Syrian writer and dissident tells All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.

Yassin Haj Saleh, who was put in prison by the Assad regime and kept there for 16 years (1980-96), says "there is no way out" for Assad. "The regime must accept a political change in the direction of a multi-party" form of government.

"The general Syrian sentiment is that the government cannot be reformed" and that Assad and his supporters must go, Saleh added during a phone conversation from Syria. He says more than 8,000 people have reportedly been detained by authorities in recent weeks.

As for the regime's contention that there would be chaos in Syria if Assad stepped aside, Saleh called that "blackmail."

"This is the regime's game," he said, "they say 'it's either us or chaos ... either us or civil war.' I believe it's the party that's working" to foment chaos.

Here are two clips from their conversation. First, Robert asks about the regime's warnings regarding "chaos" (you'll hear an interpreter translating as Saleh speaks):

And second, Robert asks how much longer the protests can continue:

Much more from their conversation is due on today's edition of All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, we'll add the as-broadcast version of their discussion to the top of this post.

Saleh blogs here. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.