Among the camps that shelter thousands of Syrian refugees across the border in Turkey, President Assad’s words had an empty ring.
One of the main opponents of the Assad regime, the Syrian National Council, dismissed his offer of dialogue.
SNC member in Istanbul, Abdulrahman Alhaj said: “The president now, as he appeared in this speech, is very weak and he feels that the international community now is going to do something against the Syrian regime and at the same time he feels alone.”
Turkey’s prime minister was even more robust in his reaction.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Assad always accuses international influences. When there’s a massacre on Syrian territory he consistently says that the killings have foreign-backed roots. Assad says the last election showed some results and represented the feelings of the Syrian people, but he is wrong. Everyone knows it was not fair. Opposition parties did not take part.”
The headlines in Damascus might have been supportive, but in Saudi Arabia, the foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal accused Assad of manoeuvring to buy time.