Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad email leak

Syrian activists have leaked a cache of documents purporting to be the private email of Bashar al-Assad and his coterie, penned during the slaughter of the Syrian opposition. The Guardian is working its way through them, authenticating them as thoroughly as they can.

In this overview, Robert Booth, Mona Mahmood and Luke Harding tour the documents' highlights, including advice from the Iranian government on putting down the uprising; a personal spy network that Assad employed to report direct to him, bypassing the nation's own security services; an offer of asylum in Doha, Qatar, should the family flee Syria; and a detailed media strategy for portraying the ruling clan in the best light (he is also advised to stop blaming Al Quaeda for his nation's troubles).

In this article, Robert Booth and Luke Harding document the lavish lifesyte enjoyed by Syria's rulers, who use fixers in London to shop the sales at Harrods, a relay in NYC to run an iTunes account for them (Bashar liked to send maudlin, self-pitying country music to his family, "I've been a walking heartache / I've made a mess of me / The person that I've been lately / Ain't who I wanna be"), and who order gold and diamond jewelry direct from Parisian boutiques. The family also plans a screening of the last Harry Potter movie.

Here are a few of the 3,000 leaked emails to browse yourself.

Others items that caught the fancy of Syria's first lady included a vase priced £2,650. On 17 June 2011 she sent details to the family's London-based fixer Soulieman Marouf, and added: "Pls can abdulla see if this available at Harrods to order – they have a sale at the moment." Marouf replied with good news: "He bought it. Got 15% discount. Delivery 10 weeks." He added: "Today you should be receiving an Armani light … If you need anything else please let me know."

The emails suggest a woman preoccupied with shopping – but also with an eye for a bargain. She was eager to claw back VAT on luxury items shipped to Damascus, it emerges, and complained when a consignment of table lamps went missing in China. Emails sent from her personal account also concern the fate of a bespoke table, after it arrived with two "right" panels instead of a right and a left one. More than 50 emails to and from the UK deal with shopping.

Some of Asma al-Assad's prospective purchases arouse polite comment from her friends. On 3 February 2012, she was browsing the internet for luxury shoes, according to an email titled "Christian Louboutin shoes coming shortly".

She wrote to friends sharing details of new shoes on offer, including a pair of crystal-encrusted 16cm high heels costing £3,795. She asked: "Does anything catch your eye – these pieces are not made for general public." One friend replied dryly: "I don't think they're going 2 b useful any time soon unfortunately."

(Image: A member of the Free Syrian Army burns a portrait of Bashar Assad in Al Qsair. Jan. 25, 2012, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from syriafreedom's photostream)


    1. Eh, well, last time I checked, Bank of America didn’t bomb my town just because a few of us didn’t pay our mortgages…

      (inb4 “they don’t have to”)

  1. Dick Cheney was rumored to have a private intelligence and tactical teams, I doubt it’s that rare.

  2. I don’t understand what I should do with this information. Should I be outraged that the Assad family have such a large carbon footprint, or that they are so much richer than I am? How is any of this important, when we also know Assad is running a brutal military campaign against the people of Syria? Am I supposed to rank the evil of spending the average Syrian annual salary on a pair of shoes against the evil of forcing doctors to torture their patients?

    1. You must have missed the part about

      advice from the Iranian government on putting down the uprising; a personal spy network that Assad employed to report direct to him, bypassing the nation’s own security services; an offer of asylum in Doha, Qatar, should the family flee Syria; and a detailed media strategy for portraying the ruling clan in the best light (he is also advised to stop blaming Al Quaeda for his nation’s troubles).

    2. It’s going to be on the final exam.  I don’t know why some of you people think you can ignore a post that doesn’t interest you on BB.  You must study all posts. 

      Or not. You don’t have to read it. The story of Nero fiddling has lasted 2000 years, though his music was less important than what was going on around in Rome. It’s interesting to many what’s going on in the minds of those supporting the Syrian regime. If you’re rather be somewhere else on the internet, or on BB, go there.

    3. I’m more incensed that while coordinating the destruction of the uprising, most of the ruling family’s time is taken up with shopping.

      This is a family completely unhooked from reality–

       I expect to see “Let them eat cake”  in the emails.

  3. Where are the e-mails from the Bahrein, Saudi Arabia and Yemen leaders? Oops, forgot, they are our allies in our War on Terra so they get a pass. Carry on then.

    1. As these e-mails were leaked by Syrian activists and not our government, or indeed anyone in the west, perhaps the question is better addressed to Bahraini, Saudi, and Yemeni activists. The Arab spring has been done by and will continue to be done by the locals, as it should be. We in the west have been playing catch up to events there since the beginning. Our foreign policy goals in the region have never been and will never be the same as the goals of the people living there. We want regional stability, whatever that looks like, and they want and are acting to get a future that doesn’t include dictators, or at least these dictators. It will be interesting to see what the region looks like in 5 years, but whatever it looks like won’t be up to us.

  4. You know, I bet when HE gets an offer from a foreign royal offering him a cut of untold millions of dollars if he does something shady, it’s NOT spam, it’s an actual offer.  :P

  5. Three 6 Mafia (or maybe Weird Al) should do a song called “It’s Hard Out Here for an Ophthalmologist/Dictator.”

  6.  I wonder what her current preoccupations with the bombing and fighting in full swing.

    “Assad said we will crush the rebels, but I told him not to shell the new mall. The Gucci store is having a sale on Tuesday.”

  7. What’s interesting to me is that they can’t seem to see what the rest of the world sees — the same mistakes Gaddafi, Saddam, Mussolini and others made time and again: the picture of their palace blown to bits as the rebels close in, all their yes-men long gone, Iran long-“dashed off for a smoke — be right back”, and the final, horrible end as the rebels enter the room where they’re cowering and a bullet to the eye ends Bashar’s optometrist’s dreams forever. Or the part where they escape only to be found dirty, wounded and shivering in a sewer line under the palace. To be dragged out by a triumphant mob of non-descript rebels and beaten within an inch of their Gucci-sheltered lives — or dragged dead through the streets, take your pick.

    Hey, I bet Nero would have also been online shopping for violins while Rome burned if he’d had a computer. (www.caligulasmusic.rome)

    1.  First off – unlike Libya – Syria still has control of most of its army etc. Second you are assuming these people think rationally. They are delusional narcissists with a god like image of themselves. They think they are untouchable.

  8. Well, I’m glad to see they’re at least shopping at sales. Way to be frugal with your people’s money!

  9. Sarkozy is right, Assad is a murderer.  What else would you call him after he killed hundreds of people with snipers on rooftops?
    Indeed, Assad and his henchmen have so much blood on their hands that they are no longer concerned with saving Syria, but with saving their own hide. 
    As a world community governed by universal principals of fairness and empathy for our fellow men we cannot avert our eyes from the crimes against humanity these monsters are committing. Assad has gone beyond the point of any return to civilized governance. He knows it, and we know it. 
    It is time, therefore, that we deal with him as the criminal he has become. 
    We had acted with resolve against a similar criminal in Libya and we should act with resolve against this one in Syria now.  Russia and China would be prudent to again stay out of the way. 
    Enough is enough. 
    Once more, the world has to do what simply needs to be done.

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