This video claims to show Asma al-Assad, the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, finally protesting the brutal assault that her husband has waged against the people of Homs. It is, in fact a fake. Still, the video begs the question: what role do the wives of dictators play in the policy making process of their spouses?
Bashar al-Assad has sought to quell an uprising throughout Syria for more than a year and has been met with increasing international pressure.
The story of Assad’s wife is an interesting one. Asma al-Assad is a Sunni Muslim whose family hails from Homs. She was born and educated in the United Kingdom, where she worked for Deutsche Bank and JP, meeting her husband as he studied to be an optometrist.
Asma al-Assad was once a hopeful sign of a newfound openness that was possible in Syria under Bashar al-Assad; she was even featured in Vogue in early 2011. Vogue has since tried to make the article disappear, but luckily, the internet has a way of keeping things alive.
Many commentators have wondered whether Asma al-Assad would crack under the pressure of her husband’s brutality toward the town to which she traces her roots. This alleged CNN news clip, which is actually a smartly edited version of an older interview, seems to show Asma al-Assad speaking out against these atrocities. The video, as well as coverage she has received during the uprising, leads me to ask what role the spouses of dictators play in their decision making process. In reality, even if Asma al-Assad was voicing her concern, the world outside Syria would not find out.
Near the end of the faux interview, Asma al-Assad says, “This is the 21st Century. Where in the world could this happen? Unfortunately, it is happening in Syria.” The word “Syria” is voiced over but the point is clear. The world watches in relative silence as the Syrian military assures us today that the stronghold of Bab al-Amr in Homs will be “cleaned” within the next few hours.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons