The Syrian uprising has come up with a new PR weapon. The Guardian has released a treasure trove of over 3,000 emails between President Assad, his wife Asma, and their court cronies. The emails show Syria’s ruling couple wildly out of touch and oddly untroubled as their country implodes.
Of particular interest is Asma Assad’s correspondence with decorators and jewellers in France and Switzerland, written while her husband continues ordering the destruction of rebel stronghold Homs. Giving new meaning to the term “fiddling while Rome burns”, Asma Assad is documented ordering high-priced shoes, accessories and furniture from Europe. “I am still hoping you can send me a sample for the dark wood alternative” she requested of one French furniture supplier, four months into the uprising.
Asma Assad, who American Vogue previously named the “rose in the desert” is now guaranteed a place in the history books for all the wrong reasons.
The PR Verdict: “A” for the Syrian rebels who released Asma’s emails. For a news cycle that was tiring of images of military devastation, this puts the issue back in the headlines and reignites the pressure to remove a dictator.
Fashion’s former darling of the Middle East has just become the byword for a corrupt and an out-of-touch system. History is littered with spouses who become symbols for their husband’s excesses, embodying greed, reckless indifference and a lightning rod for gross mismanagement. Following in the tradition of Marie Antoinette, Imelda Marcos and Elena Ceaușescu, Asma Assad is set to join the club of women who history does not remember fondly and in turn, has become a great PR weapon for the regime’s opponents.
What’s your PR verdict? Does this help the rebels?