Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2517:
Bashar al-Assad Fears Over-Throw if U.S. Attacks,
Body Language Tell During Charlie Rose Interview

Two days ago, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was interviewed in Damascus by veteran journalist, Charlie Rose. This was the most important television appearance of al-Assad's life and as noted by many, the Syrian dictator appeared relatively calm during the interview. He was not however. He was betrayed by his body language - as everyone is when they are trying to look calm in the face of fear. What follows is a showcase and brief analysis of a rarely recognized nonverbal manifestation of fear. 

Note: The original video has, since the original post, been removed from its online source. The images below however, were captured from this video

At 2:29 Charlie Rose says, "But some have suggested that it [an American attack on Syria] might tip the balance in the favor of the rebels, ah, and lead to the over-throw of your government."

Bashar al-Assad then begins his answer at 2:37, "Exactly [pause], any strike will be as direct support to Al Qaeda offshoot that's called al-Nusra, Jabhat al-Nusra [?] and the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria. You're right ... about this. It's going to be direct support."

Within the short space of the 2:38 mark, The Syrian President's subconscious turned informer as he displayed an under-appreciated signal of fear. Look carefully at the back, left side of al-Assad's neck. His trapezius, splenius capitis and levator scapula muscles all momentarily tighten and this short-lived contraction can clearly be seen (primarily trapezius). Although this evanescent nonverbal muscular dynamic does not occur on the face - it is highly characteristic of fear and can be thought of as a (non-facial) microexpression analog.

In short, Bashar al-Assad is in significant fear of a U.S. attack, however limited and surgical it is proposed to be, and despite his calm (to some) words, he shows us this primal emotion in one brief body language moment at two minutes and thirty-eight seconds into this video. The dynamics and subtlety can be seen clearly in the video.

There are multitudes of other nonverbal signals in this interview. How many can you spot?

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2516:  Bashar al-Assad's Interview with Charlie Rose  Body Language Tells, Part I

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2384:  Bashar al-Assad on 1 May 2013 - Demure, Beta and Nervous - Body Language Lessons on how NOT to appear Confident

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2501:  Bashar al-Assad, Chemical Weapons and a  Body Language Signal of a Sociopath

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2257:  Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian People and Spotting a Sociopath  Another Naked Emperor 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2509:  Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Al'Afari Defends al Assad  Body Language of Insincerity, Contempt and ...

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2212:  Barack Obama warns Bashar al-Assad,  A Body Language Signal of Conviction

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1141:  al-Assad's Elbows in Syria