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Syria: 6 things we have learned from the Assad emails

The Guardian has today published details from thousands of emails it reports were sent and received by the embattled president Bashar Assad and his wife in recent months.

Pro-regime protesters carry a poster of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a rally in Damascus earlier today.
Pro-regime protesters carry a poster of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a rally in Damascus earlier today.
Image: Muzaffar Salman/AP/Press Association Images

THOUSANDS OF SECRET emails have revealed some of the the inner workings of the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad and disclosed intimate personal details of his and his family’s habits.

The emails have been exclusively obtained by the Guardian newspaper today as violence continues in Syria where anti-government protesters have spent almost a year protesting against Assad’s regime. He has responded by ordering a violent crackdown which the UN says has led to the deaths of thousands of people.

The Guardian has vouched for the emails’ authenticity here and disclosed how they came to light but we thought we’d take a look at a few things we have learned from the disclosures so far:

1. Assad took advice from Iran

The emails disclose that Assad was given advice from, among others, the political attache to the Iranian ambassador before a key speech in December.

This advice is included in an email from an advisor to Assad in which the advisor urges that the speech should carry an ‘Islamic identity’ which should focus on resistance, hostility to Israel and protection of the Palestinian people.

The email also advises  that the speech be “powerful and violent” because “the people need to see a powerful president defending the country”.

2. Assad did not make much of his own reforms

The Syrian president did not make much of the reforms he had proposed previously in an attempt to diffuse the crisis. In an email to his wife, Asma, he referred to them as “rubbish laws of parties, elections, media…..”.

His wife responds: “Will be finished at 5pm. love u.” appearing to refer to a separate and unrelated matter.

In another email, Assad told his wife that they would “overcome” the present difficulties his regime is facing, writing: “If we are strong together, we will overcome this together…I love you…”

3. Qatar offered potential exile for the Assads

The daughter of the Qatari emir, Al Mayassa Al Thani, wrote to Asma Assad encouraging her and her husband to leave their home country: “i honestly think that this is a good opportunity to leave and re-start a normal life – it cant be easy on the children, it can’t be easy on you!,” she writes.  The email also suggests that the Qatari capital of Doha could offer potential exile.

4. Assad knew about western journalists in Homs

The city of Homs has become a target for heavy shelling by government forces in recent weeks with the resulting death of one high-profile foreign correspondent in Marie Colvin as well as other journalists.

The emails reveal that Assad was aware that western journalists were in the city attempting to report what was happening there. In one email, an advisor writes in Arabic that “many western media delegations have entered the area by crossing the Lebanese borders illegally”.

5. ‘Christian Louboutin shoes’ and ‘bullet blockers’

Despite the sanctions, there appeared to be no let up in lavish spending by the Assads. In one email from Asma there was a reference to “stunning Christian Louboutin styles coming at the end of February.” In another she emails her husband links to clothing items which include a ‘bullet blocker barn coat’.

6. Assad’s ‘Sexy and I Know It’

Assad did not see the US-imposed sanctions on Iran as a bar to accessing his favourite music via iTunes. The documents show that Assad’s account with the music downloads giant was registered to another name and an address in New York, the Guardian reports.

He used this account to download songs that included Don’t Talk Just Kiss by Right Said Fred, Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order, and We Can’t Go Wrong by The Cover Girls. But his music tastes also stretched to more modern music including LMFAO’s recent hit ‘Sexy and I Know It’:

YouTube: VEVO

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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