Mr Assad is also feeling the heat of a failing economy. Inflation is running at 30% a year. The currency’s value has slumped. Fuel is getting scarce. A Western boycott of Syria’s oil, 90% of which was exported to Europe, is draining state coffers. Tourism is dead. The perception of Syria as a pariah state is blighting international trade and commerce. With the war spreading, the economy in trouble and diplomacy intensifying, Mr Assad looks ever more isolated and vulnerable. Even the Russians’ loyalty may begin to wilt.