The Bloody Hands of Syria's First Lady
A year ago, Syria's First Lady Asma al-Assad was the darling of New York's trend-setting editors at Vogue magazine who described her in a fawning profile as a "rose in the desert."
Now, according to hacked e-mails published by the London Telegraph and other news outlets, the photogenic British-born Asma is not exactly the woman portrayed in Vogue: "glamorous, young, and very chic, the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies."
Rather, Asma al-Assad -- the daughter of a Syrian cardiologist and diplomat mother -- is a stalwart supporter of her husband's butchery. "I am the REAL dictator...", she writes in one of some 3,000 e-mails from the Assads' private accounts which were distributed to The Telegraph and other media outlets by opposition activists.
"If we are strong together, we will overcome this together ... I love you ...", she writes in another e-mail.
As The Telegraph reports:
Despite the ambitions she expressed for liberalizing 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 unfavorably 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.
What must film stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt think of this in light of their 2009 visit to Syria in behalf of the United Nations, during which they hobnobbed with the first lady and her dictator husband and were oh so very impressed, as the Vogue article by Joan Juliet Buck pointed out. How strange at the way liberal elites, especially of the Hollywood and New York varieties, go all gushy over exotic strongmen and their women.
Compared to the dark portrait now emerging of Asma al-Assad, incidentally, Vogue described her as Western-style Democrat trying hard to engender "polite" manners in others.
"The household is run on wildly democratic principles. "We all vote on what we want, and where," she says. The chandelier over the dining table is made of cut-up comic books. "They outvoted us three to two on that."
A grid is drawn on a blackboard, with ticks for each member of the family. "We were having trouble with politeness, so we made a chart: ticks for when they spoke as they should, and a cross if they didn't." There's a cross next to Asma's name. "I shouted," she confesses. "I can't talk about empowering young people, encouraging them to be creative and take responsibility, if I'm not like that with my own children."
That Vogue article was removed from the magazine's website months ago but it can be accessed here. Not only does it provide a glimpse into the strange and deranged world of Asma al-Assad, but also into the world of some trend-setting liberal elites who hold such women in high esteem.