[Marxism] Life styles of the rich and brutal

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 15 07:12:35 MDT 2012


Secrets of the Assads' emails are revealed by rebels

Messages show the dictator and his wife obsessed with shopping 
while Syria suffers

Jerome Taylor
Thursday, 15 March 2012

Syrian opposition groups managed to hack into the personal emails 
of President Bashar al-Assad and his British-born wife, Asma, 
monitoring them for nearly a year until the accounts were closed down.

The contents of the emails, some of which were made public last 
night, paint a devastating portrait of a dictator and his wife 
swapping YouTube videos, buying luxury goods and dismissing 
international demands for Mr Assad to step down as loyalists 
spearheaded a brutal crackdown that has led to 8,000 deaths over 
the past year.

The emails reveal that:

* President Assad takes advice from Iran and Hezbollah on how to 
suppress the ongoing rebellion against his rule.

* He has surrounded himself with a coterie of Western-educated 
Syrians who advise him on how to handle the international media.

* A senior member of the Qatari royal household begged Ms Assad to 
flee Syria with her husband and suggested Doha would welcome them.

* Syria's first couple often seem oblivious to the carnage 
unfolding around them, with Ms Assad spending tens of thousands of 
dollars on luxury goods.

Opposition groups said they were able to access the personal email 
accounts of the couple after a mole in the President's own retinue 
gave them log-in details.

For nearly a year the groups were able to monitor the accounts in 
real time and used the incoming traffic to warn fellow activists 
about upcoming raids. The account became compromised shortly after 
the activist group Anonymous conducted a successful attack against 
a host of Syrian government email addresses earlier this year.

Activity on the accounts that were meant to belong to the Assads 
ceased the same day. The emails were later passed to The Guardian 
newspaper, which began publishing them last night. The paper's 
editors said they believed the messages were genuine after 
contacting many of those named in them. But the editors added that 
they couldn't guarantee the authenticity of all the emails, which 
Syria denied were real.

Among the most explosive revelations is the suggestion that the 
Syrian President routinely asks Iran and its proxy in Lebanon, 
Hezbollah, for advice. In an email about a speech that he was due 
to deliver in December, one of the President's media advisers said 
he had spoken to the Iranian ambassador who urged "powerful and 
violent" language to show that Mr Assad was not "shaken" by recent 

That same month, the President also received an email from a 
well-known Lebanese businessman called Hussein Mortada who said 
Iran and Hezbollah had advised the President to cease blaming 
al-Qa'ida militants for a recent car bombing that occurred in 

Other emails reveal the lavish spending habits and personal 
preferences of Syria's first couple. Emails sent from Ms Assad's 
account suggest that she spent tens of thousands of dollars on 
gold and gem-encrusted jewellery, chandeliers, curtains and 
paintings to be shipped to the Middle East. In one message she 
asks an assistant to buy her a fondue set from Amazon.

Mr Assad sends his wife song lyrics, love letters and spends much 
of his time downloading an eclectic array of music from iTunes, 
navigating around US sanctions by using a third-party address in 
the United States.

Other emails show a relationship under strain. In one particularly 
poignant message to Ms Assad, whose family lives in London, the 
daughter of Qatar's emir begs her friend to leave the country, 
reminding her friend that brutal dictators rarely end their 
careers peacefully if they hang on.

Assad emails: What the messages reveal

Links to Iran

Advice relayed from the regime of Ahmadinejad to Assad on an 
upcoming speech.

From: Assad's media consultant
To: Assad
Date: 31/12/2011

"Invite widely the families of the martyrs [dead soldiers], to 
make the speech appear like a celebration. It is possible to have 
a band play a strong tune for the martyrs. Bring one of the 
martyr's wives to deliver a powerful speech on behalf of the 
martyr's families and then let the president come onto the stage."

Asma's shopping list

The three emails below show the President's wife shopping while 
Syria burns, concerned with shoes, DVDs and furniture.

From: Asma Assad
To: A Paris furniture boutique
Date: 19 July 2011

"For the candlestick pistil I would like to take one in size 
medium and the other in size small... I am still hoping you can 
send me a sample for the dark wood alternative for the empilee?"

From: Asma Assad
To: A family friend
Date: 3 February 2012

"Does anything catch your eye [referring to attached pictures of 
Christian Louboutin shoes] – these pieces are not made for general 

From: Asma Assad
To: Azmi Mikati, nephew of the Lebanese Prime Minister
Date: 20 November 2011

"Are you coming around the 2nd or before? If so, please can you 
bring the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2? [The film was 
released on 2 December]."

Refuge in Qatar

The email below shows advice to the Assads to flee to Qatar to 
avoid the possibility of overthrow or retribution from the West.

From: Al Mayassa Al Thani, daughter of the Emir of Qatar
To: Asma Assad
Date: 30 January 2012

"I honestly think that this is a good opportunity to leave and 
re-start a normal life – it can't be easy on the children, it 
can't be easy on you! ...I only pray that you will convince the 
president to take this as an opportunity to exit without having to 
face charges."

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