Several hours ago, Syrian president delivered his first public speech in months, addressing the internal military conflict that has gripped his country, and whose key excerpts can be found here. In it he called for a “full national mobilisation” to fight against rebels he described as al Qaeda terrorists. “We meet today and suffering is overwhelming Syrian land. There is no place for joy while security and stability are absent on the streets of our country,” Assad said in a speech at the opera house in central Damascus. “The nation is for all and we all must protect it.” Assad once again blamed the west for provoking and “facilitating” the rebellion, which even the NYT admits is being orchestrated by Al Qaeda, which naturally begs the question: just what is Al Qaeda to the US and to its intelligence agencies – foe or ally? But while providing fodder for the pundits, the speech was largely irrelevant. What does merit attention is the follow up to the story from two weeks ago the Russia sent two squadrons of ship to Syria in mid-December. It appears they have arrived, and just in time to offset the positioning of NATO Patriot missiles along the Turkish-Syria border.