Contrary to what many of those who watched Bashar al-Assad’s most recent television interview believe, al-Assad was well aware of what he was saying, even if some of his answers were characterized by black drama, particularly those regarding defections and conspiracy! Al-Assad is not as disconnected from reality as he appears; rather he was sending specific messages to specific recipients.
What we must pay attention to here is that al-Assad’s televised statements came on the eve of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran. The only thing that al-Assad wanted to say in this interview was that he is making progress on the ground but that he needs more time, nothing more and nothing less. Al-Assad was speaking with one eye on Iran, and the other on his own people and agents in Syria and Lebanon. The tyrant of Damascus explicitly stated “we are fighting a regional and global war, so time is needed to win it. I can sum up [what is happening] in one sentence: We are moving forward. The situation is practically better but it has not been decided yet. That takes time.” Al-Assad is promising victory, but he wants his supporters and allies to give him more time, rather than abandoning him or despairing of his ability to achieve this promised victory.
Anybody who has considered what happened in Iran, particularly during the Non-Aligned Movement summit, will understand that al-Assad was well aware of what he was saying. The evidence of this is that Walid Muallem had no choice but to walkout of the summit in Tehran after the Egyptian president launched an attack on al-Assad in front of the Supreme Guide and Iranian president in the heart of the Iranian capital which might be considered a safe haven for al-Assad and his regime. This leads us to contemplate another important issue, namely that al-Assad’s statements have prompted observers to question what truly happened between the Syrian president and his Iranian visitors recently. It appears that these meetings ended with a different result than what has been leaked to the press. What happened in Tehran causes one to think that perhaps these meetings were not to negotiate the merits of the proposed Iranian initiative on Syria, as was claimed at the time; rather it seems that Tehran told al-Assad that it wanted to ensure the success of the Non-Aligned Movement summit by any means possible. Otherwise, how can we explain Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki daring to put forward a proposal to resolve the Syrian crisis during the summit, at a time when the Iranian Foreign Minister announced that his country also intends to launch a special initiative on Syria?
The other important issue here is that the Supreme Guide and President Ahmadinejad avoided talking about Syria during the Non-Aligned Movement summit. This is particularly significant because Ahmadinejad’s speech followed the Egyptian president’s speech, during which he attacked al-Assad and his regime, resulting in Muallem discrediting Iran’s Al-Alam channel, which claimed that he did not walkout during the speech. It is clear that the Iranians were keener to ensure the success of the summit and win over Egypt than stick with al-Assad. It is clear that the tyrant of Damascus was well aware of this, and therefore conducted this television interview to tell his allies and agents that he needs more time. This means that al-Assad is aware of the critical nature of the forthcoming days, for his statements was not the statement of the vain, but rather the frightened!