Mar. 15 - British newspaper says it has obtained thousands of Assad families emails which shed light on the personal lives of Syria's ruling family. Travis Brecher reports.
As a smiling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his British-born wife Asma cast their votes for a new constitution in February, his troops were busy shelling civilians in Homs - the heart of a revolt against his rule. Syria's soft-spoken leader looks an unlikely entrant to the Middle East's array of autocrats with blood on their hands. But after killing thousands in a year-long crackdown on protests, the London-trained eye doctor has outraged his own people and the world. On Wednesday, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported access to a trove of emails it said shed light on the lives of the Syrian President and his wife. The paper reported Assad has taken advice from Iran on countering a revolt against his rule - and even joked about his promises of reform. The Guardian said the emails, which portrayed an Assad family insulated from Syria's uprising, came from the private accounts of Assad and his wife, and was confident they were genuine. Some of the estimated 3,000 emails showed that Assad's wife Asma was arranging for the purchase of an Armani lamp from London's posh Harrods store, had placed orders for jeweled necklaces from Paris, and was chasing up on a delivery of furniture to Damascus. In one email from last July, Asma emailed her husband that she would be free by 5 pm on a particular day. In his response, Bashar wrote "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 law of parties, elections, media…" Other emails indicated that Assad was briefed in detail about the "illegal" presence of Western journalists in the Baba Amr district of Homs, and was urged to "tighten the security grip" late last year. The private correspondences even showed that Assad had managed to sidestep the extensive U.S. sanctions against him by using a third party with a U.S. address to purchase music and apps from Apple's iTunes. The Guardian said it had made extensive efforts to authenticate the emails by checking their contents against established facts and contacting 10 individuals whose correspondence appears in the cache. Travis Brecher, Reuters