Since March 2011, when the uprising in Syria first began, over 8,000 people have been killed by Bashar al-Assad's regime. Videos surface daily of injured men, women and children, targeted by snipers, blown apart by relentless shelling. Yet still the nations of the world watch, and do nothing.
Well, not nothing; the EU has recently placed an asset freeze on al-Assad's wife, so she will find it difficult to shop online for luxury items, as it is reported she did during the uprising. (Would that someone would do the same to my wife.) The Arab League has imposed a travel ban on senior officials; Turkey has done the same (bang goes the holiday to Istanbul, curses Adel Safar, thumping the table with a hairy fist). The US, for its part, has listed Syria as a 'state sponsor of terrorism', and, again, has imposed travel bans and asset freezes.
But there are no bullets, no missiles. There are a lot of threats: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned Syria to co-operate with a UN-backed peace plan, warning that if they don't they will face "increasing pressure and isolation". UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has told the British media that military action is off the table for now, stating that it would be "on a vastly greater scale" than in Libya.
But I have a theory as to why military action is not on the immediate horizon, and it has nothing to do with Syria's size or the resources required to overthrow the current regime. It's because Bashar al-Assad just doesn't look like a tyrant. He doesn't give off an aura of evil. He doesn't even look remotely scary.
In contrast, recently overthrown tyrants bear all the hallmarks of downright nasty people. Take Colonel Gaddafi, for example. When he was alive he looked pretty fearsome, all jowly and whatnot. He had tiny little piggy eyes, a big grumpy stroke-like mouth, a strange little beard. You wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley, as he'd probably mutter something unintelligible and then cut you in half.
Saddam Hussein was similar. Large, stocky build, threatening moustache, always holding a rifle. He also had downright scary eyes. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt also looked fairly formidable, like someone obese had sat on his face and slowly slid off. And the list goes on.
But then you come to Bashar al-Assad, who looks like a square-headed cross between Steve Carell and Mr Bean, the next-door neighbour with the hot wife who washes his car every Sunday in between waving at passers-by. Occasionally he'll attempt a menacing moustache, but ends up just looking a bit daft.
The current unrest in Syria will not end peacefully on the track it currently rides, and it seems likely that military intervention will begin at some point. Fortunately for al-Assad and his regime, it doesn't look like this will happen any time soon; so he has plenty of time to practice his angry face.Suggest a correction