Regime delighted by cracks in Western anti-Assad coalition

Bill Neely

Former International Editor

Obama said the US would not attack Syria before military action was approved by a vote in Congress. Credit: Reuters

Syrian government officials were watching President Obama's speech from the White House. I didn't see them smile but there's no doubt they will have done that.

Yes, Obama said he had decided to attack Syria. That will concern them.

But then they thought it was coming sooner rather than later. Now, they heard, it could be tomorrow or next week or one month from now.

They'll have smiled because they believe it's possible Obama will not get Congressional approval for a strike.

They believe he looks weak and is weak. And they see cracks all over the Western coalition that has opposed President Assad for two years now.

They see the doubt and scepticism of public opinion in the West; they see America hesitating and Britain withdrawing.

French public opinion is not with its President who is gung-ho to bomb.

So Syria's army has another week to hide things away, the air force more time to park its planes out of sight.

Tonight, after a lull of five hours or so and just two minutes after Obama finished his speech, Syrian artillery opened up on rebel held suburbs.

It was their defiant answer to Obama.

Watch Obama's speech in full: