Last Updated: Sat Mar 17, 2012 17:19 pm (KSA) 14:19 pm (GMT)

Leaked emails reveal Gulf dignitary attempted to mediate a safe exit for Assad family

The daughter of a Gulf ruler reportedly offered asylum for Syria’s first lady, her husband and children if the Syrian president agreed to step down. (Photo Illustration by Amarjit Sidhu)
The daughter of a Gulf ruler reportedly offered asylum for Syria’s first lady, her husband and children if the Syrian president agreed to step down. (Photo Illustration by Amarjit Sidhu)

The daughter of a prominent Gulf Arab personality told Syria’s First Lady, Asmaa al-Assad, to leave the unrest-torn country with her husband, President Bashar al-Assad, and their children before it was too late, emails leaked from Asmaa’s inbox and obtained by Al Arabiya revealed.

In August last year the person, who has been reported to be the daughter of a Gulf royal ruler, began a series of emails with the wife of the Syrian president which developed from casual messages to a serious discussion about the crisis and ways to find solutions to it.

Correspondence shows that the person first sent an email to Asmaa to wish her a happy Ramadan. Asmaa responded back with thanks and similar wishes. The subject of communication remained personal until Aug. 4 when an email from the lady asked Asmaa about the situation in the Syrian city of Hama and whether the president had a plan to exist from the crisis.

In response, Asmaa denied media reports that the Syrian army had interred Hama but admitted that the city was rife with violence.

“Contrary to media reports, the army did not enter Hama (yet), though the place is rife with violence,” she wrote.

Regarding her husband’s crisis management plan, Asmaa stressed that reforms were underway with new laws being issued and young people being trained in debate.

“We are training young people to debate and have worked to get facilitators to help train the trainers, things there are going well, I attended a heated discussion yesterday in Lattakia ... which was excellent! Of course debate and dialogue is not the language that attracts the media these days, so little is mentioned, but the impact on the ground is significant.”

On Aug. 5, the alleged Gulf princess asked whether new legislations would suffice to calm the situation in Syria and change the political scene there.

“How does one control the calamity? How does training young people in negotiations, at this stage, help? How do you foresee the next coming months. I hope you and kids are safe,” she wrote.

Asmaa responded to the series of questions 13 days later. On Aug. 18, she wrote saying, “the new legislation allows for political parties to be formed - so no more single party rule and a completely new political context!”

She added that people want change in a “secure and stable environment.”

Asmaa received a forthright email from her friend, contained with a mixture of calls and warnings.

“I know the President is a noble man with good intentions, but in the end anything goes wrong, and he’s to blame.”

She wrote that after new legislations are issues, the president should address the nation and step down.

“The lives lost cannot be retrieved, but there’s still a chance to keep a positive image, because i truly believe the President has credibility.

“I’m thinking of your kids, the risks they are in and their future ─ please leave it too late ─ sometimes in life, we don’t calculate the outcome, but when we are faced with situations beyond the control of one or two ─ then we ought to accept fate.”

In her response, Asmaa was succinct, writing: “I really appreciate your concern ... There's perception and there’s reality ... I guess it depends which one you associate with... ”

On Aug. 29, the lady sent an email with the subject “Eidich umbarak,” which denotes a clear Gulf Arabic greeting for Eid greetings, the holiday to celebrate the end the month of Ramadan.

But the body of that email had little to do with its subject. It contained a clear appeal for the president and his wife to leave Syria.

“I wish you would leave and get the kids out. I am so worried about them. The situation is out of control ─ please get the kids out before it’s too late...”

In her following response emails, Asmaa refrained from discussing the situation in Syria and kept her emails purely to personal issues, like kids going to school, going on a trip to the north of country.

In another email, the Gulf woman, which now appeared to be from Qatar, asked Asmaa if she could pass on her email address to the wife of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayeb Erdogan as she asked for it.

Asmaa wrote back saying she did not want Erdogan’s wife to have her email “after the insults they have directed towards the president.”

A few months later, the discussion about Syria between the two resumed and on Wednesday Dec. 14, the alleged Qatari princess asked Asmaa directly: “How can I help you? I can’t imagine you agree with what is going on ─ you’ve done such great work, it can’t all be lost on the basis of weeks of bad policy? Honestly ─ how can we be of help?”

Asmaa forwarded the email from to her husband and added “For a laugh”.
On Jan. 30, 2012, an email sent to Asmaa offered asylum to the Syrian first lady, her husband and children if they stepped down.

“I know at times I am too blunt ─ but it’s because I care and consider you and the family as part of our own. Every day I think about the thoughts running through your head and the safety of your children ─ I only pray that you will convince the president to take this as an opportunity to exit without having to face charges. The region needs to stabilize, but not more than you need peace of mind.

“I am sure you have many places to turn to, including Doha,” she wrote.

(This is the second in a series of articles on the leaked emails of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his inner circle. )

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