Last year Vogue Magazine published a fawning profile (embarrassed--or something--they removed it; someone--or some institution preserved it) of Syria's first lady, A Rose in the Desert. Beginning lyrically,
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. Paris Match calls her "the element of light in a country full of shadow zones." She is the first lady of Syria.
The first impression of Asma al-Assad is movement-a determined swath cut through space with a flash of red soles. Dark-brown eyes, wavy chin-length brown hair, long neck, an energetic grace. No watch, no jewelry apart from Chanel agates around her neck, not even a wedding ring, but fingernails lacquered a dark blue-green. She's breezy, conspiratorial, and fun. Her accent is English but not plummy. Despite what must be a killer IQ, she sometimes uses urban shorthand: "I was, like. . . ."
The 35-year-old first lady's central mission is to change the mind-set of six million Syrians under eighteen, encourage them to engage in what she calls "active citizenship." "It's about everyone taking shared responsibility in moving this country forward, about empowerment in a civil society. We all have a stake in this country; it will be what we make it."
and continued in this vein with only slight references to the real situation in Syria
Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department's Web site says, "the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors." It's a secular country where women earn as much as men and the Muslim veil is forbidden in universities, a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings, but its shadow zones are deep and dark.
before returning to the British born, (to Syrian professional emigres) British raised Asma. An honors graduate of British universities, she worked in banking before meeting and marrying her husband, Bashir al Assad, also British trained. Her husband unexpectedly took over the reins of Syrian government after his older brother, the heir designate, died in an auto accident.
As untold thousands of Syrians have been slaughtered by their own government under the leadership of their President Bashir al Assad in response to the Syrian edition of the so called Arab Spring the dutiful Mrs. Assad issued an e mail on the situation through an intermediary.
'The President is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the First Lady supports him in that role,' she told The Times.
'These days she is equally involved in bridging gaps and encouraging dialogue. She listens to and comforts the families of the victims of the violence.'
Mrs Assad, 36, approved the text following a critical article in the newspaper last week.
Four years ago, Mrs. Assad, in the interests of "bridging gaps and encouraging dialogue" while comforting "the families of the victims of violence" scathingly denounced Israel for defending its own civilians against Arab terrorism.
The numbers continuously and consistently increase...it's not even day by day, it's hour by hour. 824 people dead. Two hours ago that number was 821...
This is the 21st century. Where in the world could this happen? Unfortunately, it is happening.[...]
You send your children off to school knowing that they'll be safe, knowing that they're going to get a good education. Mothers in Israel don't do that. Children don't go to school because it's not safe, because - it's just beyond belief, to be honest.
Although Jews lived in Syria under severe restrictions for over 2500 years, very few remain; thousands left after the establishment of Israel led to pogroms and riots against them.
So the very British educated desert rose Mrs. Assad supports slaughter. Of Syrians. Of Jews. Of anyone her husband deems an enemy.
What a dead, poisoned flower.