Joan Juliet Buck: Mrs. Assad Duped Me

July 30, 2012

syria-first-lady-fe03-buck-3rd

Asma al-Assad’s stated mission: “Empowering Syrian children to build a civil society.” (Wael Hmedan / Reuters)

(Daily Beast) I didn’t know I was going to meet a murderer.

There was no way of knowing that Assad, the meek ophthalmologist and computer-loving nerd, would kill more of his own people than his father had and torture tens of thousands more, many of them children.

(Daily Beast)He didn’t strike me as much of a monster.
And he wanted to talk. I thrust the recorder at him and asked the most innocuous question I could think of.
Why had he wanted to become an eye doctor?
“Because it’s never an emergency,” he said. “It’s very precise, and there is very little blood.”
Never an emergency. Very little blood.
He wanted to talk about computers. “When we met, I was Mac and she was PC!” he said.


Empathy for Asma Assad: I Am The Real Dictator In This Family.

March 19, 2012

Part of me… (a very small part)… feels for Asma. She is standing by her man. That is more then I can say for most Western women. It is an admirable quality. I can’t help but empathize with her situation. She’s at war with Sunni Islam. It is a fight for survival. I can’t help but acknowledge that her and her husband made their own beds with the haters, but the Allewite are a minority needing protection… just like the Jews are and perhaps in a sense all the Israel bashing was just projections so that the Sunni Muslims wouldn’t do to them what they are doing now. I hope some day the Assad’s can talk about all of this objectively.

(Other)Mrs. Assad: I Am The Real Dictator In This Family.(TheTelegraph).Despite the ambitions she expressed for liberalising Syria before the uprising, Mrs Assad, 36, displays no misgivings about the regime’s bloody crackdown, which has accounted for most of the estimated 8,000 lives lost.
Her correspondence with Bashar al-Assad, his aides, friends and family portray her as highly supportive of her husband.
In an email to a family friend on Jan 10, she praised a speech the president gave for conveying a sense of being “very strong, no more messing around”.
In another, she complains that ABC News unfavourably edited an interview with him.
On Jan 17, she circulated an email cracking a joke at the expense of the people of Homs, shortly before a regime onslaught that would claim hundreds of lives.
The people of the city have long been the target of derision for other Syrians. Mrs Assad received from her husband an email with the subject line “Student who obtained 0% on an exam”.
It contained one of those lists of jokes that circulate widely on the internet, in the form of questions with silly answers. The first was: “In which battle did Napoleon die? – His last battle”.
The next day she forwarded the email to her father and two other family members with the changed subject line: “A really bright Homsi student!”
Mrs Assad’s “dictator” comment was made partly in jest during an exchange with a friend about how much attention spouses typically pay to each other.
“As for listening – I am the REAL dictator, he has no choice …” she wrote on Dec 14. Her use of the word in reference to her husband suggests she understands how others regard him.
It will not be helpful to Mr Assad, who has made a show of passing reforms since protests against his rule broke out.Mrs Assad comes across as comfortable with the middle class English world in which she grew up as the daughter of a cardiologist in Acton.
The mother of three, who went to university in London, chats affectionately with her family, receives shopping offers from John Lewis, and speculates about potential overseas holidays with friends.
But international sanctions forced her to shop online with an alias and to to ask friends to collect jewellery from Paris. To receive a delivery of furniture she had to find a friendly shipping company in Dubai.
Only fleetingly does she let any strain show. On Feb 3, she wrote to a friend: “Also been meeting a lot of families of victims which is hard but also gives me strength (or makes me stronger).”
The accounts were stopped a few days later when the Assads realised they had been exposed.
An investment banker in the City before marrying and emigrating aged 25, Mrs Assad has worked to maintain the regime’s dwindling links with the outside world. She sought what she called a “strategic alliance” with MTN, the Pan-African telecoms giants and her Syrian Development Trust, which even before the crisis was seen by critics as a veneer of social reform for the regime.
The tranche of 3,000 emails came from the private accounts of Mr and Mrs Assad and were passed by opposition activists to The Daily Telegraph and other media outlets.
Although pseudonyms are used, the identities of the president and his wife are beyond any reasonable doubt given the recipients and subject matter.
The president is affectionate to his wife, although his inbox shows that two of his trusted aides were young Syrian women based in the United States. A woman who looked to be in her 20s sent him a photograph of herself standing provocatively against a wall in her underwear.
Mr Assad’s cynicism is sometimes striking: he disparages his reforms to appease protesters as “rubbish”.
His wife at least appears aware that four decades of Assad family rule could end soon.
If we are strong together, we will overcome this together,” she wrote to her husband on Dec 28.Read the full story here.


Assad’s wife, kids fled to London, well actually not really

March 10, 2012

(Bashar Al-Assad’s wife, Asma)not true… here is a related Asma video.

A video blogger reedited segments from a CNN interview Syria’s First Lady Asma Assad gave in 2009 during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza to make it seem as if she is in fact referring to the current violent crackdown in her own country.

In the remixed video uploaded to Youtube, Assad is seen declaring that “the barbaric assault on innocent civilians has been horrific,” and, “this is the 21st century, where in the world could this happen?” as images of the massacres in the city of Homs are displayed.

In its report of the video satire, the New York Times said it was not clear who made the remix, but that it was uploaded to YouTube last week by an anonymous video blogger who had posted video of a protest in the Syrian capital, Damascus, in January. Before that, the same person uploaded a series of brief comedy sketches, apparently shot in Britain.

Maybe she’ll get another Vogue interview there: Hating Israel isn’t enough: Syria’s first couple, Asma and Bashar al-Assad, at their private office overlooking Damascus. (EOZ) Palestine Press Agency Reports: According to Arab diplomatic sources in Britain, the wife of the Syrian President, Asma Assad, fled from Damascus to London together with her three children about two weeks ago in the face of the expansion of the protests against her husband’s regime.


Video: Syrian first lady Asma Assad talks about massacre in Homs

March 4, 2012

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(Carl) Do you really believe that Asma al-Assad said that about her husband’s army’s atrocities in Homs?

A video blogger reedited segments from a CNN interview Syria’s First Lady Asma Assad gave in 2009 during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza to make it seem as if she is in fact referring to the current violent crackdown in her own country.
In the remixed video uploaded to Youtube, Assad is seen declaring that “the barbaric assault on innocent civilians has been horrific,” and, “this is the 21st century, where in the world could this happen?” as images of the massacres in the city of Homs are displayed.
In its report of the video satire, the New York Times said it was not clear who made the remix, but that it was uploaded to YouTube last week by an anonymous video blogger who had posted video of a protest in the Syrian capital, Damascus, in January. Before that, the same person uploaded a series of brief comedy sketches, apparently shot in Britain.

Read the whole thing.
Asma seems a bit of a hypocrite now doesn’t she? I hope her husband realizes she’s not talking about him. Otherwise, it will be ‘off with her head.’ Heh.


CBS News : Angelina Jolie: Behind the camera

November 28, 2011
Media_httpiicomcomcnw_cacphdictatorswith: Angelina Jolie with Asma al-Assad, wife of the Syrian dictator, 2009 As bona fide ambassadors for the United Nations, Jolie and Pitt travelled to Syria and met with Asma and Bashar al-Assad. The meeting is narrated, extensively, in a Vogue article called Asma al-Assad, A Rose in the Desert in which we can read: Asma likes to say, “You’re safe because you are surrounded by  people who will keep you safe.” Neighbors peer in, drop by, visit,  comment on the furniture. The president doesn’t mind: “This curiosity is  good: They come to see you, they learn more about you. You don’t  isolate yourself.” Once again, the myth of the good and beloved King and Queen. This is already odd enough since the Human Rights Watch report for Syria is called A Wasted Decade but maybe Jolie and Pitt did wonderful ambassador job and things got better, right? Here are some of the last news coming from Syria: Thirty die in protests across Syria Syria: dissolving illusions of reform Syrian troops shoot dead protesters in day of turmoil Bloodliest day in Syrian uprising as Assad troops kill ‘at least 75’  Six killed at Syria funeral processions Good job Angelina, good job Brad  Assad… who is Assad? how come CBS doesn’t report her political relationship to tyrants who commit genocide. Could it be that it would scare the funding for her movie about Bosnia? Jolie has consistently shrouded totalitarian regimes. Her relationship to the United Nations has me questioning her film dollars. (CBS 60 Minutes) Not one mention of her relationship to the Syrian regime of Assad. One wonders how she gets the funds for her film making ventures.  Angelina Jolie with Asma al-Assad, wife of the Syrian dictator,  2009. As bona fide Asma al-Assad,  The meeting is narrated, extensively, in a Vogue article called A Rose in the Desert in which we can read: ambassadors for the United Nations, Jolie and Pitt travelled to Syria and met with Asma and Bashar al-Assad.

Asma likes to say, “You’re safe because you are surrounded by people who will keep you safe.” Neighbors peer in, drop by, visit, comment on the furniture. The president doesn’t mind: “This curiosity is good: They come to see you, they learn more about you. You don’t isolate yourself.”
Once again, the myth of the good and beloved King and Queen. This is already odd enough since the Human Rights Watch report for Syria is called A Wasted Decade but maybe Jolie and Pitt did wonderful ambassador job and things got better, right? of course HRW isn’t much better then Angelina Jolie… but… you get the idea.


Fisk defends the Assads

November 6, 2011

(Israel Matzav) And you thought Fiskie couldn’t sink any lower….

On Syrian television this week, I made the point that Gaddafi was insane and that – whatever else you thought of him – Assad was not. This was met (naturally) by vigorous agreement from the presenter. But wait. I promised to tell readers what happened to the programme. Well, two days ago, quite by chance, I bumped into the journalist who had interviewed me. Alas, he said, he thought the translation and subtitles wouldn’t be ready for Saturday night’s broadcast. Maybe we could do another interview later. Back to that old saw, I guess: we shall see.
In any event, I was made very much aware by her own personal assistant how “deeply hurt” Bashar al-Assad’s wife Asma was at a report in The Independent a couple of weeks ago which suggested that she was indifferent to the plight of civilian opponents of the regime killed by the security forces. The story – not by me – quoted an aid official in Damascus who was present at a meeting with the First Lady, saying that – when asked about the casualties – “there was no reaction”.
Needless to say, this report was gobbled up by the Arab media, including al-Jazeera, Assad’s most hated TV station. Now Asma al-Assad’s assistant has just given me the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s own official Arabic-language account of the meeting. It makes interesting reading. SARC volunteers told the president’s wife that they received better treatment from the army “which has a clear leadership” than they did from the intelligence services at the checkpoints across Syria – they said the “muhabarrat” intelligence “enjoys no leadership or clear principles, at least from our point of view” – and that vehicles from the Ministry of Health are sometimes misused by “parties without control and this has created a situation of fear among citizens”. Mrs Assad was told how difficult it was for the SARC to work in dangerous areas and to move the wounded.
“Mrs Asma [sic] showed her understanding of the difficulties our volunteers are going through,” the SARC report says, “and expressed her deep admiration for their efforts in serving humanity and individual people … and promised to convey some of their demands to the authorities.” Mrs Assad’s visit was “informal” and the discussions “friendly”.
In the days that followed, the SARC report continued, the behaviour of “security checkpoints” towards their volunteers improved. A subsequent report in the weekly Syria Today quotes Mrs Assad as telling the Red Crescent volunteers that they “must remain neutral and independent during this time, focusing solely on humanitarian needs”.

I’m sure he’s quite popular in Britain….


Asma Assad, Dictator’s Wife: "Rose in the Desert"? Not Exactly

November 2, 2011

Vogue magazine, published a glowing profile of Asma Al-Assad:
“Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic–the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement,” opens the story, “

(Anna Mahjar-Barducci/HudsonNY) Asma Assada, the wife of the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, was described by the fashion magazine Vogue as a “rose in the desert.” In 2008, she was even awarded the Gold Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic in recognition of her leading role and continued “humanitarian efforts” for the economic growth in the Arab world in general, and Syria in particular.

The West apparently needed to see a revolution and young Syrian people savagely killed in streets by Syria’s army to understand that Bashar Al-Assad is a cruel dictator and that Asma is no rose, but a heartless first lady. Vogue had to see cutting off food, water and electricity to the the Syrian population, to remove from its website the article where Asma describes how loving Bashar is, playing with their three children at home.
As long as the Syrian government was sponsoring the killing of Israelis it was fine. Asma, the Syrian “Marie Antoinette,” was considered a “reformer,” as some media in the West labeled her. All the anti-Israel commentators were so happy to honor the Syrian first lady, who showed her deep concern about Gaza and the Palestinians. So concerned was the ruling couple, that Bashar Al-Assad recently attacked a Palestinian refugee camp near the Syrian port city of Latakia, causing an undisclosed number of victims and obliging 10,000 refugees to flee.
Finally, when the Syrian population itself rose up, the international community reluctantly had to admit that Asma was no “element of light in a country full of shadow zones,” as Paris Match wrote, but rather the condescending wife of a tyrant. For the last decade, she has just used her position to promote herself, while offering an alluring façade to her husband’s regime. In the meantime, she enjoyed a stylish life, buying expensive, labeled dresses (she apparently loves French designed Christian Louboutin shoes and Chanel sunglasses), without wondering where her money came from.
The British newspaper, The Independent, recently revealed that last month, Asma invited a group of aid workers to discuss the security situation with her, but she “appeared utterly unmoved when she heard about the plight of protesters.” “‘We told her about the killing of protesters,” said [one volunteer who was present], who asked not to be named for fear of retribution. “We told her about the security forces attacking demonstrators. About them taking wounded people from cars and preventing people from getting to hospital … There was no reaction. She didn’t react at all. It was just like I was telling a normal story, something that happens every day,'” reported the Independent.
Asma, British Citizen
Few months ago, Yasmin Albhai-Brown, a columnist for the Independent, wrote that “behind every murderous man, there’s a loyal wife.” This is apparently true also of Asma. She was raised in Acton, west London, in an upper-middle-class family with no siblings. Asma holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Diploma in French Literature. The British Daily Mail wrote that those who knew her back in England say that, given that she spent the first 25 years of her life in London, Asma, who holds double Syrian and British nationalities, back in London used to be known as “Emma” and have liberal western values.
Asma’s father, Fawaz Akhras, is a cardiologist and one of the founders of the British Syrian Society. Her mother, Sahar Otri, is a retired diplomat. Both of her parents are Sunni Muslim. Akhras, works at the Cromwell Hospital in London and is known for his polite manners, for being a discreet person and for promoting Syria’s interests in Britain. The British paper The Guardian wrote that Akhras plays “a role as gatekeeper for Assad,” picking British journalists who wished to interview the president and provide favorable publicity. He is apparently close to the Syrian ambassador to Britain, the economist Sami Khiyami; and together they serve on the advisory board of the Centre for Syrian Studies at St Andrews University. One hopes they will soon be removed from the Board.
The Guardian mentions that Akhras is familiar figure on the Arab diplomatic circuit in London, and that those who have had to chance to talk to him would notice that his personal views are pure Ba’athist propaganda straight from Damascus. According to the British paper, Akhras became close to Assad when the dictator went to Britain to study. “Akhras received a request from Bashar al-Assad asking for help in studying ophthalmology in the UK, which he did at the Western Eye Hospital, a unit attached to St Mary’s hospital, Paddington,” The Guardian reports.
In 2000, Asma and Bashar Al-Assad married. It was just the beginning of his presidency. As reported in the Saudi-owned TV channel Al-Arabiya’s website, a marriage with a Sunni wife was perceived “an encouraging sign of reconciliation from a member of the ruling Alawite sect [which is closer to Shis Islam. Author’s note] that his rule would not rely on sectarianism.” At the time, Akhras told the editor-in-chief of Al-Arabiya that he was critical of the regime of Hafez Al Assad, but that he believed that with Bashar, Syria was on the verge of witnessing a new era.
Assad’s Family Selling Property in London
A rumor is circulation in the British media that Asma, fearing that the regime might soon collapse, might be hiding in London with her three children. If that were true, it would be a bit embarrassing for the British authorities — the reason, according to the British paper The Telegraph, that her alleged presence in London has not been made public. The rumor, however, started to circulate in May, and since then Asma allegedly has come back to Syria.
The Telegraph, however, reports that the get cash, the Assads are selling flats and houses in London, and that these include a £10 million townhouse in Mayfair, “as they prepare for defeat.” “The selling off of the property suggests the Assads are liquidating their assets in the chance the regime is forced from power in Syria,” writes the Telegraph. The family would have also sold off properties in the United States, London, Spain and France, with the clan wanting to “liquidate their overseas homes as quickly as possible.”
It seems that Asma may have to forget French-designed dresses and that for a while she will be hiding, rather than looking to be on the covers of fashion magazine. In the meantime, according to media, she stays in Damascus keeping silent, while looking with at her husband crack down on innocent civilians.