Since Bashar al-Assad addressed parliament in his last major
public appearance in early June, rebels have taken their fight
to overthrow him into Syria’s two main cities, seized swathes of
countryside and assassinated four of his top security officials.
Faced with such devastating setbacks, many leaders – Libya’s
Muammar Gaddafi springs to mind – would leap onto the public
stage to reassure supporters they were still around, still in
charge and ready to lead the fightback.
Instead, aside from two silent clips shown on television and
a written message to his troops delivered on Wednesday, Assad
has remained out of view for two weeks as the threat to his
power and authority grows graver and ever more sustained.