WHEN you go to see an Arab ruler, you expect vast, over-the-top palaces, battalions of guards, ring after ring of security checks and massive, deadening protocol
Syrians rally in support of Assad
Thousands of people take to the streets to support Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as he faces increasing pressure to end a bloody crackdown on demonstrators
You expect to wait hours in return for a few stilted minutes in a gilded reception room, surrounded by officials, flunkies and state TV cameras. You expect a monologue, not a conversation. Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, was quite different.
We drove straight up to a single-storey building the size of a large suburban bungalow. The President was waiting in the hall to meet us.
In his small study, Assad was wearing jeans. It was Friday, the main protest day in Syria. But the man at the centre of it all, the man they wanted to destroy, looked pretty relaxed.