How Is The International Community Helping Syria? Security forces in Syria continue to crack down on protesters this week. Melissa Block talks to Rob Malley, program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, about the international community's response.
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How Is The International Community Helping Syria?

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How Is The International Community Helping Syria?

How Is The International Community Helping Syria?

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Robert Malley with the International Crisis Group has been tracking this Syrian uprising and the international response. He joins me now. Robert Malley, welcome to the program.

ROBERT MALLEY: Thanks for having me.

BLOCK: It's been five months of protests now around Syria. They've spread all around the country. Do you see an opposition movement that's still gaining strength, sweeping in groups who weren't engaged before?

MALLEY: Well, I think there's no doubt that the opposition is gaining in strength, it's gaining in support in terms of social classes, in terms of the spread of the country. And the mere fact that they've held on for so long, despite what is now becoming even greater regime brutality, is a testament of their resilience, and therefore a testament of the support that they enjoy.

BLOCK: When you consider that the regime has not fallen, has not been broken, what do you attribute that to?

MALLEY: Well, you know, this is a regime that has been in power for a long time. It knows how to exercise the tools of power. It still has had support. Even over the last several months. It's not just the regime and its family. There are minority groups, the Alawite community, other minorities in Syria that are afraid of what might happen if the regime were to fall; the security structure, of course. And also, parts of the business that have done quite well under this regime. So there are constituencies. And perhaps most importantly of all, the fear of what will happen if and when the regime falls.

BLOCK: Let's talk, too, about the international response. There has been this week further condemnation from the United Nations. There are sanctions from the U.S. and the E.U. What more pressure do you think could or should be brought to bear on the Syrian regime that would be effective in some way?

MALLEY: I think, first of all, we have to recognize that this is a dynamic that has been led very much but from the ground, from what the Syrians have been doing. And the international community has been, for the most part, a bystander. I think what is needed here is simply clarity on the part of key players - the United States, the European Union, Turkey - a very essential player in Syria - to clearly state that they're on the side of the protesters and they believe that the regime has run its course and it's time for it to change. I think that message needs to be said loud and clear. It's being said already. It could be said more clearly.

BLOCK: In Iraq, for example, when people went after all of the members of the security forces, they disbanded the army, they disbanded the Ba'ath Party, reiterated this is - will only affect things on the margins. But that's the best the international community can do, and that's what it should strive for.

BLOCK: Thank you.

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