The speech from Bashar Al-Assad was long awaited. How would he address the crisis in his country?
In the end he has bottled it. By failing to recognize that the protesters have legitimate grievances and by making a speech insisting that the unrest in Syria is all the fault of shadowy foreign conspiracies, he may well have condemned himself to death.
If he will not enter into a dialogue with the majority in his country, then sooner or later he will be overthrown. A small part of me suspects that the clique that surrounds the Baathist regime in Damascus has got its own agenda that has little to do with the personal survival of Bashar al-Assad, after all the speech that they must have tacitly approved is astonishingly reckless.
The days when Bashar was a mild mannered optician at the Western Eye Hospital in London whose interest in politics seemed, at best, tangential are long gone. Indeed the death toll in Syria is already creeping up to the tens of thousands killed in in the time of his father Hafiz after a rebellion broke out in Hama in 1982. This time though, the rebellion is way beyond a single city and comes after the fall of three other regimes in the Arab world and the likely fall of a fourth and even fifth.
A spectacular mistake- I wonder if the Syrian President wishes that he and his British born wife, Asma, had stayed in Acton?