The emails we have published this week show the supposedly reluctant dictator taking a personal interest in the Homs assault, briefed in detail about the presence of European reporters in Baba Amr, and when to tighten the "security grip". Lurching between self-pity, defiance and flippancy, Assad reveals himself to be no fool. He has independent lines of communication, keeping each part of his police-state security at arm's length. He takes a tokenist view of reform and then mocks it in an email to his wife, referring to them as "rubbish laws of parties, elections, media". In short, Bashar has learned his authoritarian ropes. Unlike the lyrics of the song, he knows exactly who he really is – his father's son.