The Dictator's Secret Emails
March 14, 2012 2:25 PM   Subscribe

The British newspaper The Guardian has obtained a cache of 3,000 emails purported to have been exchanged between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his wife, and a close circle of advisers and friends. The personal emails allegedly show Assad dismissing his government's proposed reforms, mocking the efforts of Arab League monitors to spot military tanks besieging cities, as well as Assad's wife placing extravagant shopping orders, sometimes through intermediaries.

The emails support claims that Iran's government has been providing advice and support to Assad on suppressing the uprising.

The Guardian report claims that Assad "was also briefed in detail about the presence of western journalists in the Baba Amr district of Homs and urged to 'tighten the security grip' on the opposition-held city in November." (Death of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Rémi Ochlik, previously.)

One email allegedly includes a suggestion from the daughter of Qatar's emir for the Assad's to seek exile in that country's capital, Doha.

How were the emails leaked? The Guardian reports that according to Syrian opposition activists:
a young government worker in Damascus nervously handed a scrap of paper to a friend. On it were four handwritten codes that the friend was instructed to pass to a small group of exiled Syrians who would know what to do with them.

The paper contained two email addresses: sam@alshahba.com and ak@alshahba.com. They are thought to have been the personal email usernames and passwords of the president, Bashar al-Assad, and his wife, Asma.
Are the emails genuine? The Guardian has done some impressive legwork and concluded that "several pieces of evidence suggest they are authentic."

Assad's official email account was also recently hacked, revealing his media strategies ahead of an interview with ABC journalist Barbara Walters.
posted by BobbyVan (35 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
notify-list-element = FAILURE
>>> SENT TO:Muammar@libya.gov
<<< 550 No such user here
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:37 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I know those accounts have been closed and burned away, but, God, I want to subscribe them to every human rights mailing list in the world.
posted by RakDaddy at 2:43 PM on March 14, 2012


Looks like country-western can be added to the dictator playlist:
In a bizarre message apparently from the Syrian leader, he sent his wife the lyrics of a country and western song by the US singer Blake Shelton, and the audio file downloaded from iTunes.

Laden with self-pity, the communication appeared to exemplify the cocooned life of denial that Assad, his family and inner circle were leading while the country erupted around them. The first verse reads: "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."
Osama bin Laden loved Whitney Houston, and Robert Mugabe prefers Cliff Richard to Bob Marley, so perhaps it's not that strange. (It's still strange, though.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:05 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's nothing. Josef Stalin was totally into Howard Jones.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:12 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surely this...
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:15 PM on March 14, 2012


Well, I don't see what the shopping list totals out as, but $15,000 here and there on furniture, jewelery, and bullet-proof garments seems moderate for an unopposed elected head of state.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:25 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


• Assad sidestepped extensive US sanctions against him by using a third party with a US address to make purchases of music and apps from Apple's iTunes.


It's going to be a festival of irony if this is what gets al-Assad into The Hague. Like Al Capone's income tax evasion, the most minor crime of the lot is what gets the most attention.
posted by chavenet at 3:26 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


What, he is cavalier and self-centered and heartless and she has huge amounts of money to spend on highly priced gee-gaws? Who would ever have thunk it?
posted by bearwife at 3:27 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's not what irony means. But it would be funny, or at least, as funny as something can be in the context of totalitarian regimes.
posted by clockzero at 3:42 PM on March 14, 2012


they refer to him variously as Sir and "his Excellency", and on one occasion – in a note not meant for his eyes, but which was forwarded to him – as "the dude".

I don't even.........What!?
posted by sendai sleep master at 3:47 PM on March 14, 2012


That dude?!..... This aggression wil not stand. Say what you will about the tenants of the Ba'ath but at least they have an ethos.
posted by humanfont at 3:53 PM on March 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


chavenet: Like Al Capone's income tax evasion, the most minor crime of the lot is what gets the most attention.

That's because the small offenses are the ones that stick. If the FBI could have gotten him on multiple counts of murder, extortion, racketeering, or any other serious offense, they would have, but they couldn't.


they refer to him variously as Sir and "his Excellency", and on one occasion – in a note not meant for his eyes, but which was forwarded to him – as "the dude".

sendai sleep master: I don't even.........What!?

You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:55 PM on March 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's not what irony means.

A common misconception; 'irony' as used in British English often refers to situational irony - in this case the idea that a murderous dictator might find himself legally undone by his most trivial violation of law (circumventing a service agreement to bypass economic sanctions) rather than for the much more serious, but much harder to prove crime of ordering massacres. Sometimes this is also referred to as cosmic irony, but that usually involves fate lending a hand. You could also say there was an element of dramatic irony in that Bashar Al-Assad was comforting himself with soulful country tunes purchased online, while unaware that his 'suffering' had an audience.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:01 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Dictators are often case studies in the banality of evil. Riccardo Orizio's Talk of the Devil has some pretty interesting examples.
posted by lucien_reeve at 4:18 PM on March 14, 2012


Reading Assad's Emails
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:27 PM on March 14, 2012


My favorite email is the one about the Harrods vase:

Pls can abdulla see if this available at harrods to order - they have a sale at the moment.


The banality of evil, indeed.
posted by Triplanetary at 4:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


• Assad sidestepped extensive US sanctions against him by using a third party with a US address to make purchases of music and apps from Apple's iTunes.

If he pirated music and movies, he is lined up to get the book thrown at him. That's unconscionable.
posted by Chuffy at 5:15 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Dude misguides.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is the rumor true that Assad via these secret email addresses Assad had accounts on a number of popular sites including possibly Reddit and Metafiler?
posted by humanfont at 6:53 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well geez, no wonder UK Vogue took down that article about Asma. I sure hope someone got fired for writing that now that all of this stuff has come out about the atrocious things she and her husband have done.
posted by echo0720 at 7:00 PM on March 14, 2012


You could also say there was an element of dramatic irony in that Bashar Al-Assad was comforting himself with soulful country tunes purchased online, while unaware that his 'suffering' had an audience.

That's kinda ironic, yeah.

A common misconception; 'irony' as used in British English often refers to situational irony - in this case the idea that a murderous dictator might find himself legally undone by his most trivial violation of law (circumventing a service agreement to bypass economic sanctions) rather than for the much more serious, but much harder to prove crime of ordering massacres.

That, however, is not ironic, but merely surprising.
posted by clockzero at 7:29 PM on March 14, 2012


For the love of <insert your Higher Power here< almighty, please let these two get what's coming to them, in spades, and beaten with a Swarovski-encrusted barbed wire club squarely to the side of the head . . .
posted by eggman at 7:42 PM on March 14, 2012


Osama bin Laden loved Whitney Houston, and Robert Mugabe prefers Cliff Richard to Bob Marley, so perhaps it's not that strange

Been told that one of the Kim fils - whether the kid in power, or the kid who tried to sneak away to Tokyo Disneyland I don't know - had attended an Eric Clapton concert here in Singapore two years back. His security posse was apparently identifiable by their matching Clapton t-shirts, black goggles and their stern looks.
posted by the cydonian at 8:13 PM on March 14, 2012


And oh yeah, Robert Mugabe's wife was apparently seen at Singapore's Marina Bay Sands casino, ironically at a rooftop restaurant called Ku de tah.
posted by the cydonian at 8:19 PM on March 14, 2012


Here's hoping he and his wife get the Mussolini/Ceaucescu treatment ASAP.
posted by bardic at 9:16 PM on March 14, 2012


Report: Iran officials told Assad to focus on Israel to divert attention from Syria crisis

Well, damn, it always worked before.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:45 PM on March 14, 2012


"Is the rumor true that Assad via these secret email addresses Assad had accounts on a number of popular sites including possibly Reddit and Metafiler?"
posted by humanfont

*Immediately registers Username Bash Ass*
posted by marienbad at 2:06 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wish his email address was something like thunderpants53@hotmail.com
posted by mattoxic at 2:44 AM on March 15, 2012


But Assad's email, using the pseudonym Sam, reflected none of the bloody turmoil or diplomatic jeopardy facing his country. In a bizarre message apparently from the Syrian leader, he sent his wife the lyrics of a country and western song by the US singer Blake Shelton, and the audio file downloaded from iTunes.

Laden with self-pity, the communication appeared to exemplify the cocooned life of denial that Assad, his family and inner circle were leading while the country erupted around them. The first verse reads: "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."
Hilarious.

notify-list-element = FAILURE
>>> SENT TO:Muammar@libya.gov
<<< 550 No such user here
Holy shit!? Libya has been part of the U.S. government all this time!?

(the libyan TLD is .ly. Yes, as in bit.ly)
posted by delmoi at 5:43 AM on March 15, 2012


Is the rumor true that Assad via these secret email addresses Assad had accounts on a number of popular sites including possibly Reddit and Metafiler?
Reddit wouldn't surprise me. They actually seem to have a pretty visible Muslim/middle eastern presence.
posted by delmoi at 5:46 AM on March 15, 2012


he sent his wife the lyrics of a country and western song by the US singer Blake Shelton

Well, that spoils the big surprise on next season's "The Voice".
posted by yerfatma at 7:43 AM on March 15, 2012


Never mind the C&W what about the Right Said Fred CD?
posted by MrMerlot at 8:51 AM on March 15, 2012


Assad emails: father-in-law gave advice from UK during crackdown. Cardiologist told Bashar al-Assad how to spin Syrian uprising, including rebuttal of apparent child torture footage
posted by homunculus at 7:01 PM on March 15, 2012


Journalist Nir Rosen rejects allegations of collaborating with Assad regime
... In a second message, one of Mr Assad’s aides reports that Mr Rosen had “personally informed” him that Western reporters were entering Syria from the Lebanese border and other prohibited routes.

In an earlier exchange arguing that he should be allowed to interview the Syrian president, Mr Rosen writes: “I have succeeded in getting al-Jazeera International to show the pro-government demonstrations in Syria and in showing that Bashar and his government have a lot of support and also in showing that there are definitely armed groups attacking the Syrian security forces.”

posted by Joe in Australia at 6:36 PM on March 19, 2012


Nir Rosen is defended: Syrian Activists Say U.S. Journalist Is No Spy
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:39 PM on March 22, 2012


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