MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Welcome to the program.
RULA AMIN: Thank you.
NORRIS: I just want you to clarify something for us, Rula. This mass resignation, was it just that, or is this perhaps a grand sweep that was orchestrated by al-Assad himself, trying to hold on to power?
AMIN: That's why today, we saw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators take to the streets in support of the president. They were called upon by the ruling Ba'ath Party to come out and voice their support for the president. That way, the regime sounds strong, even if he - the president gives concessions, it looks out of strength, not weakness.
NORRIS: Since we're talking about concessions, can you quickly tick through the things that the protesters are demanding?
AMIN: That's why the lifting of the state of the emergency law, which hasn't strayed too much since 1963, as you said, is a basic, basic need. This is something at the top priority.
NORRIS: This seems to be a big test for President Assad. Help us understand the strategic relationship between Syria and the U.S. Because on one hand, the country has been trying to, at least, reach out to the United States and portray itself as a friend to the West, while also at the same time strengthening ties with Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran?
AMIN: When President Obama came, there was a shift in the policy. They said, okay, we have to engage Syria to lure it away from Iran, to make it seem so irresistible that they have to give up Hezbollah and Hamas because we're going to give it something in return. So far, it doesn't seem that the U.S. has given enough to the Syrian government, in their view, for them to give up these cards.
NORRIS: Thank you very much.
AMIN: You are welcome.
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