Thirteen months after the Syrian uprising began, President Bashar al-Assad took to state TV early Sunday to make a surprise announcement that he is vacating the Syrian presidency effective immediately. In the shocking speech that resembled those of other Arab strong men in their last hours, the resigned looking Al-Assad cited "not wanting to be remembered as a murderous asshole," "upholding the honor and dignity of his family" and most of all "hoping to avoid ending up in a sewer pipe like my Libyan brother" as reasons for his departure.
Details have since emerged that Al-Assad had been considering such a move for several months, but was forced to delay his announcement after being unable to find a country willing to offer asylum. According to several sources who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of being executed by Al-Assad himself, the Syrian leader had reached an agreement with the Mali government until a coup there spoiled his plans and forced him to reconsider. Al-Assad was said to be deeply troubled by the incident and had personally pleaded with the Malian coup leader for a fast and orderly return to peace and stability.
Assad then reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin, appealing to his inner-KGB and his love of the iron-fist style of rule, but Kremlin officials reported that Putin was away in Siberia wrestling bears and, while generally sympathetic, couldn't really be bothered.
It is this period of isolation and rejection which may explain the flirtatious emails between Al-Assad and his young female media advisors and the Syrian military's siege of several opposition strongholds. Fueled by increasing frustration and anger over being possibly stuck in Syria forever, Al-Assad took out his rage on the Syrian opposition, instructing the Syrian army to ravage the cities of Homs and Hama with round-the-clock shelling. Ironically, such appalling use of force caused Guyana, Eritrea, Chad, and Albania to rescind their asylum invitations, sending Al-Assad into a tailspin of manic depression. The King of Tonga also withdrew a similar offer, although more over concerns that the island was sinking.
Finally, after several months of intense negotiations, made increasingly difficult by the collapsing value of the Syrian pound, the Syrian government and the government of Lesotho struck a deal for Al Assad to live under protection of the King.
While Lesotho was not his first, second, or even 125th destination choice, Al-Assad is reported relieved to be leaving Syria and hopes to open an medical eye-clinic to carry on with his life in the tiny landlocked, dirt poor country in Southern Africa.
In a press release following the speech, an aide to President Assad announced, "Looking back, the President recognizes he was never fairly elected, nor really fit to be president, but is looking forward to his true calling and educational training of helping the good people of Lesotho through ophthalmology." A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army was too stunned by the hypocrisy to comment.
One person less than pleased with President Assad's announcement was his wife, Asma, who when told by reporters of her husband's decision responded, "Screw this, I have a British passport I am out of here. Roses can't fully bloom in a desert anyway." Confused, the State TV host smiled and nodded lovingly.
As news spread around the country, there was an absence of traditional celebratory gun fire, as most residents had agreed that they had had enough of it for the time being.
Meanwhile in the United States, President Obama released a statement saying he was "thrilled for the triumph of the Syrian people" before reminding voters once again that he had not only killed Osama Bin Laden, but also toppled two authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes without putting boots on the ground.