Swans Commentary » swans.com September 23, 2013  



Asma and Bashar al-Assad


by Gilles d'Aymery





(Swans - September 23, 2013)   No one can predict how long Bashar and Asma al-Assad will stay in power, or if they will be killed like Gaddafi by the rebels armed by the USA and its allies, or be put out of commission through an internal coup (Ben Ali, Mubarak). Former secretary of defense Robert Gates, referring to how to get rid of Gaddafi, once said in an interview with Bob Schieffer of CBS's Face the Nation (March 27, 2011): "...we have things in our toolbox in addition to hammers. And so there are a lot of things that can go on here. His military can turn. We can see -- we could see elements of his military turning, deciding this is a no-win proposition. The family is splitting. Any number of possibilities are out there, particularly as long as the international pressure continues and those around him see no future in staying with him." So I suppose that Assad will be eliminated by the rebels who are backed by the U.S. (the Gaddafi scenario) or his close associates whom the U.S. is trying to corrupt in the background (the Mubarak scenario), though Syria is not Libya and the "international community" is rather reluctant to get involved once again, and it's not Egypt because the Syrian army is pretty well controlled by the Alawites (a Shia group), and believe it or not, he and his wife are rather liked in the country -- not by everybody, of course, but the world is not perfect.

What I find intriguing and nothing more -- since I know relatively little about the political/religious quilt that makes Syria an important country in Arab history -- is why the US political elites followed by their gatekeepers are working in the background to destabilize another Middle East country and reverse a regime. Perhaps it is that the U.S. and its elites deeply believe that the U.S. is the indispensable nation and its people exceptional, notwithstanding Vladimir's prudent advice. The other thing I wish to understand is when and why Bashar suddenly became a dictator and a tyrant killing his own people in the eyes of the world -- that is, the international community, that is again the U.S. and its coalition of the willing, and his wife Asma the "first lady of hell" (see infra)? So, I did a little research, hoping that my readers will forgive me for being unable to afford a subscription to LexisNexis. I began by scrolling through Wikipedia, which is more or less free. I visited a series of entries, for instance: Syria; Alawites; Hafez al-Assad (an interesting character); Hafez's son, the heir apparent who unfortunately died at the wheel of his Maserati; and, of course, President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma al-Assad, a bright, attractive, well-educated, English-born, young woman who became the first lady of Syria upon marrying Bashar in December 2000.

I read many more entries until "losing my Latin," reaching a stage when I started reading the same stuff from different sources and until I found a few pieces of interest that allowed me to pinpoint when the Assads were thrown under the bus. On March 27, 2011, in the CBS interview with Bob Schieffer, which I mentioned in my first paragraph, Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, talking about the president of Syria, said: "There's a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer." That date, March 2011, must have been a very good year because that same March the American fashion publication Vogue published a 3,300-word dithyrambic article, "Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert," written by Joan Juliet Buck, a good writer and a fashion journalist for the magazine. But the timing had not been well thought out because there were rumblings where it counts, and by June and July 2011 the Assad family had become persona non grata in the corridors of power. Vogue did not wait that long to remove the article from the magazine's Web site and publish whatever kind of clarification that is usually used in such unfortunate happenstance. So the piece disappeared but for the work of http://web.archive.org/ and http://www.scribd.com/. (I've often said: once you publish something on the Web, it does not disappear even if you delete it from your server. Take the time to go read that article at either:

http://web.archive.org/web/20110228011358/http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/asma-al-assad-a-rose-in-the-desert/ (that's a real reproduction of the piece on the Vogue Web site), and


Recall that in June 2011 both Mr. Hague and Mrs. Clinton raised the ante by stating that Mr. Assad had lost legitimacy. By that time, the Syrian civil war had begun and the number of dead was between five and seven thousand. Someone close to the secretary of state must have called Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, to let her know of the boo boo, and the article disappeared pronto from their Web site. (But not from the Web!) By November of the same year President Obama said that, "He [Assad] must go." And so, between March and May Assad was moved from the category of "reformer" to that of "dictator" and "tyrant," and his wife Asma became the "first lady of hell" in a new article written by Joan Juliet Buck and published one year later on July 10, 2012, in the Daily Beast and Newsweek Magazine. That article can be accessed at:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/07/29/joan-juliet-buck-my-vogue-interview-with-syria-s-first-lady.html. She describes a cold, manipulative bully, including much hearsay. For example: "An aesthete who went to Syria for its ruins raved about Damascus, mentioned in passing some men seen hanged outside the Four Seasons Hotel, and then raved about Palmyra." ... "I should have said no right then." ... "I said yes." Assad was "the devil." ... "Assad's forces began killing Syrians." And she goes on telling the story of a "chubby 13-year-old boy named Hamza" with horrifying details. It's not worth going on. It says more about the poor character and the lack of intellectual integrity of the journalist than those of the Syrian first lady.

Instead, let's turn readers' attention to two more-recent articles (one French, the other American). On September 13, 2013, the journalist Anne Michel had an article published in Le Monde, entitled "Les très encombrantes propriétés de la famille Assad à Paris" (The very embarrassing real estate of the Assad family), reachable at: http://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2013/09/11/des-elus-reclament-le-gel-des-avoirs-assad-a-paris_3475421_3234.html The article starts with a picture of Asma and Bashar al-Assad walking incognito in a street of Paris, France, on December 10, 2010 -- that is almost 2 years prior to the writing of the article. In addition the entire article has nothing to do with President Assad and his wife. It focuses on Bashar's uncle Rifaat al-Assad, the brother of Bashar's father, Hafez. Rifaat was sent into exile when he tried to organize a coup against his brother. It did not work. Rifaat found solace in making a fortune and buying a lot of real estate all over Europe and elsewhere. So ask yourself, why a picture of Asma and Bashar if not to further malign a family? The date and photographer of the picture are, however, rather telling: Miguel Medina/Agence France-Presse: December 10, 2010 -- almost 3 years before the article was published in the French publication.

Also, on June 12, 2012, The New York Times used a similar photo by an AFP photographer in an article written by Bill Carter and Amy Chozick, "Syria's Assads Turned to West for Glossy P.R." It was an article only to be read by the folks in Washington D.C., a reflection of what the White House, the secretary of state, and most of the entire political apparatus wanted the cognoscenti to hear. Actually, the picture of the tyrant and the first lady of hell walking, talking, and smiling in Paris is worth 1,000 times more than the contortions expressed by our politicos and elite media.

Bashar and Asma are certainly intelligent people. They were not looking for the positions and the situation they are in. They must know that at any time, when the moment has come, the U.S. will destroy them one way or another. Exactly why is a topic for further investigation.


Note: Please, also read my Blips #138 and #139 that cover parts of the Syrian dreadful situation. Don't let the conventional media and the TV cloud your open-mind with conventional wisdom. It's very sad because Syria and Iraq were known as the cradle of civilization. I've not included the pics of Mr. and Mrs. al-Assad because they are copyrighted or the links are not permanent. For readers interested in a more complete and complex narrative on the Syrian couple and Syria try: The Enigma of Damascus, by James Bennet, The New York Times, July 10, 2005.


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published September 23, 2013