The casual dress, the apparent absence of security around his suburban bungalow, a perfect command of English, the ability to laugh at himself: in his interview with The Sunday Telegraph, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria presented a disarming face. Yet he gave no indication of reforms which would begin to satisfy his people, more than 3,000 of whom have died since demonstrations against his regime erupted in March. Rather, with a nervous eye on what happened to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, he warned that foreign military intervention in Syria would cause an earthquake across the region, resulting in tens of Afghanistans. The message was clear: we will do things at our own pace, so back off. Mr Assad is offering continuity, as against uncertainty were he and his government to fall. Yet it is worth remembering what this continuity entails. For over 40 years, father and son Assad have kept Syria politically oppressed and economically backward. Over the past seven months, that has escalated into the use of tanks and helicopter gunships against civilians and the contraction of an economy subject to an EU ban on oil exports and a collapsing tourist sector. Despite being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Syria has tried to acquire nuclear weapons. As a supporter of groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah, it remains on the American list of state sponsors of terrorism. And along with Iran, its only ally, it has played a malign role in neighbouring Lebanon. That is the kind of continuity the Syrian people and the wider world could do without. Mr Assads interview reveals a delusional state of mind common to those who have been in power for too long. Redemption for Syria will come only when he and his Alawite coterie are gone. Telegraph editorial