There was more than desperation in Bashar Al Assad's unexpected bid last week to find new international support.
Some casual observers reacted with derision or disdain to the Syrian president's letter to the top leaders of the Brics group, who were assembled in South Africa for a summit meeting.
Framing the Syrian civil war he has caused as a struggle between good and evil, Mr Al Assad asked Brazil, Russia, India, China and the host country to help him resist the forces of international terrorism.
The Syrian dictator's letter did not explain how tens of thousands of dead civilians, women and children among them, qualify as agents of terrorism. And the idea of Brazil or South Africa getting involved in Syria is almost laughable. But Russia and China are on the list too, and they have been bulwarks of the Syrian regime at the UN Security Council. Russia in particular can have considerable leverage with Syria, which it has chosen not to use.
Mr Al Assad's pitch for help, with its absurdist picture of who is fighting his regime, seems to have been intended as a counterweight to the entreaties Russia is hearing from almost the whole rest of the world, to cut the Assad regime loose and let it sink.