David Blair: Why deluded Assad must believe his people love him
Does he believe it himself? When President Bashar al-Assad favoured the world with his thoughts on Syria's crisis yesterday, his wooden, twitching performance betrayed exactly what makes a dictator-at-bay both pitiable and repugnant.
For the best part of a year, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have marched against his rule, braving the bullets of thuggish security forces. How did Mr Assad account for the protests? They were all part of an "external conspiracy", he said; a fact that was "clear to everybody" -- or at least to him.
Syria is now under sanctions from the Arab League and the European Union (when those two are united against you, things really have gone wrong) and the economy has been crippled. Mr Assad opined that this was just the moment to "focus on medium and small-scale industry". His government would "create employment opportunities", he promised his audience in Damascus, before adding: "We should also have social justice."