Thousands of emails between the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma corresponding between foreign leaders as well as family and friends have been obtained by Al Arabiya and will be published almost in their entirety over the next few days. The emails reveal the leader’s wife’s expensive taste for luxury goods online she purchased throughout the bloody crackdown on protesters that has so far resulted in approximately 8,000 deaths. These emails were released on the one year anniversary that marks the start of protests demanding an end to Assad’s rule.
The emails, which date back to June last year, reveal the clandestine nature of Assad’s government and the manner in which the regime tried to quell the uprising.
The President’s British-born wife has been standing by her husband from the time they cast their votes for a new constitution in February while his troops were shelling desperate civilians and rebels in Homs, the heart of the revolution.
In one email from July last year, Asma e-mails her husband saying she will be finished by 5 in the evening to which Assad replies: "This is the best reform any country can have that u told me where will you be. We are going to adopt it instead of the rubbish laws of parties, elections, media... "
In another email from January this year, Asma receives an email from a person believed to be one of the emirs of Qatar’s daughters, urging her and her family to quit Syria and start a new life. She also indicates that Qatar's capital Doha could be one place the Syrian leader could seek refuge with his family.
"I only pray that you will convince the president to take this as an opportunity to exit without having to face charges," the emir’s daughter wrote to Asma on January 30.
"Looking at the tide of history and the escalation of recent events - we've seen two results - leaders stepping down and getting political asylum or leaders being brutally attacked. I honestly think that this is a good opportunity to leave and re-start a normal life," the email added.
Asma responded “I don't have a problem with frankness or honesty, in fact to me it’s like oxygen - I need it to survive. Life is not fair my friend - but ultimately there is a reality we all need to deal with!!!”
Asma forwarded the email to her husband with the words “For a laugh.....”
The First Lady also had time for some luxurious online shopping. The leaked emails have revealed that purchases included an Armani lamp from one of London’s most expensive stores, Harrods, and she had placed orders for precious jeweled necklaces from Paris and spent time following up on her orders of furniture to be delivered in Damascus.
Asma has continued to stand by her husband amid the increase of violence in Syria and international pressure and strain on the Syrian government. An email sent in late December read, “If we are strong together, we will overcome this together ... I love you...," she wrote.
The First Lady splurges on candlesticks worth $ 15,000, designer tables and fine crystal chandeliers from Paris and also requested an order for a fondue set from Amazon.
She even makes time to email and ask for suggestions between shopping for Asteroid suede and patent-leather pumps with its daring gunmetal spikes or Swarovski encrusted platforms. Asma was also reported to be shopping online for bulletproof wear.
A month before the uprisings began in Syria Asma was featured in Vogue magazine in a profile titled “A Rose in the Desert”.
“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,” Vogue wrote.
However, a month later Vogue removed the article from its archive.