The Guardian obtained several thousand emails exchanged between Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma, over the past year, and the details of the sheltered, privileged life the first couple lead are both fascinating and disgusting. While Syria entered into a massive and deadly civil war — some estimate more than 8,000 have been killed, with many more tortured, injured, and forced to leave the country — the duo exchanged YouTube videos, downloaded iTunes songs and LOL-ed over Internet memes. And the glamorous Asma — who Vogue controversially profiled last year — will now go down in history along with Imelda Marcos and Evita Perón as a woman who squandered away tens of thousands of dollars while her administration brutally squashed and then sought to cover up uprising after uprising. More than 50 emails are specifically about Asma's internet shopping sprees. Here's a partial shopping list:
- Parisian jewelry: "1 turquoise with yellow gold diamonds and a small pave on side" as well as a cornaline, "full black onyx" and "amethyst with white gold diamonds" of similar design. "I am absolutely clueless when it comes to fine jewellery!" Asma added in a later email. Aw, "clueless" — how cute.
- £2,650 ming vase: But no big deal, because it was on sale from Harrods!
- Crystal-encrusted Louboutins: Which Asma tried to share with her friends, but the jealous bitches weren't even grateful. "I don't think they're going 2 b useful any time soon unfortunately." one friend wrote after seeing a photo of £3,795 shoes that "were not made for the general public." She did say that Asma was "always thinking of us," though.
- £10,000 worth of candlesticks, tables and chandeliers: to be shipped from a Paris designer through a state company in Dubai. Girl's gotta have her fancy French furniture!
- Art: She emailed a London art dealer asking about a number of works costing between £5,000 and £35,000 each.
- Handcrafted bedside tables from Chelsea: But, much to her dismay, they had "different finishes and they have different colour draws!?". The horror!
- BulletBlocker armored clothing: Near the end of 2011, Asma got a little more practical, and sent her husband options for armored vests.
- Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2: Can you blame her? She was probably super bored, cooped up in the presidential palace because it was too dangerous to go outside.
- Chocolate fondue sets: Mmmm.
The emails also provides a glimpse into the relationship between Assad and his two young, US-educated Syrian female advisers, who spoke to him informally — once as "the dude"— and sent him "Funny!" photos of Nicolas Sarkozy standing on a box next to George W Bush. They described the president as if he were a celebrity — "We love him sooooooo much!!! We're so proud of him and his strength, wisdom, charisma and of course his beauty." — and preached about the importance of social media; one email shows that their team convinced Twitter to close a number of Syrian parody accounts.
Today marks the official anniversary of the Syrian uprising, which began on March 15, 2011 when protesters demonstrated in a number of Syrian cities, hoping to carry on the "Arab Spring" revolution that was sweeping the Middle East. A year later, the government continues to claim that the violence is the work of "terrorists." We hope those "terrorists" don't get in the way of Asma's next Parisian furniture delivery.
The Assad Emails [The Guardian]