Can Bashar al-Assad’s wife prevent further bloodshed in Syria?
Asma al-Assad
March 25th, 2011
09:14 PM ET

Can Bashar al-Assad’s wife prevent further bloodshed in Syria?

by Amar C. Bakshi, CNN

According to CNN, Syrian security forces killed dozens of unarmed protesters today. Over the past week, human rights groups say at least 37 people have been killed, including 2 children.

For perspective on this mounting violence, I turned to Theodore Kattouf, who served as U.S. ambassador to Syria from 2001-2003. Kattouf spent most of his career as a U.S. Foreign Service officer based throughout the Middle East. He is now the President of AMIDEAST, an American non-profit organization engaged in international education and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa.

Kattouf believes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s glamorous wife Asma may be one of the few forces inside the Syrian leadership willing and able to restrain the president from deploying even greater violence against the protesters in his country.  But it is important not to overstate her role. There are many forces at work in Syria. Patrons of the regime have a strong incentive to maintain the status quo for money and security.

For an excellent analysis of the consequences of sectarian divisions for the regime, see this New York Times article. Also, take a look at a very controversial profile of Asma al-Assad that Vogue published just last month, which focused on the "normal" side of the regime's first family without mentioning its repressive behavior and human rights abuses. But first, here are the highlights of my conversation with Kattouf:

Amar C. Bakshi: What do we need to know about what is happening Syria?

Theodore Kattouf: Syria is a less homogenous country than Tunisia and Egypt.  70% of the country is Sunni Arab.  The people who occupy the positions of real power in the military, security and intelligence services come form a heterodox branch of Shiism called Alawis. They have been effectively the dominant power in Syria for 40 years, ever since Hafez al-Assad came to power in November 1970.

Syria has not had good relations with the United States for most of the time that the current regime has been in power. They have put themselves in the middle of a number of issues that the U.S. leadership cares deeply about.

- Syria shares a border with Iraq. Along with their ally Iran, Syria has been able to have some influence in Iraq - usually  not in a way favorable to our interests.
– Syria remains the hegemon in Lebanon even after it withdrew its troops from that country after the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005.
– Syria remains in a state of war with Israel although they have kept the Golan disengagement agreement scrupulously ever since it was signed in 1975.
– Syria is a backer of two movements that the U.S. has put on its terrorism list: Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

What do we need to know about Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad?

Bashar al-Assad was never intended to be president of Syria. His father Hafez al-Assad was grooming his eldest son [Basil] for that role. However, that son was killed in an auto accident in 1994 at a time when the second son and current president, Bashar al-Assad, was a medical resident in London training to be an ophthalmologist.

Bashar wasn’t in London as long as people think.  He did not have a lot of exposure to Western culture, because when you’re a [medical] resident you’re working all the time.

But he did meet the daughter of Syrian expatriates living in England - Ms. Asma Akhras. Asma is the daughter of a cardiologist in England….She…has a university degree in economics. She worked in banking in England briefly and then met Bashar.

Upon the eldest son’s death, Bashar came home…[and began] assisting his father with the governance of Syria….Bashar took power when he was only 34 years old….

Bashar is very tall, but not particularly imposing. He tends to be very polite, very mild-mannered. He allows his guests to speak….He has an inner confidence born of what he perceives to be a number of his successes following his father’s death in June 2000….

Bashar came to power talking about opening things up and giving the impression that not just economic reform but political reform was in the cards. Whether he intended that or not is hard to say.

What we can say is that for whatever reason he turned his back on all of that very early on. Some people were arrested. Discussion groups were told not to meet or were broken up and the like. The message went out that really there wasn’t going to be much political opening.

He seemed to be looking to China where he would try to bring economic prosperity to the country, open up the economy, but keep a good hold on political levers of power.

What would Bashar al-Assad do to hold on to power?

That is the key question…but the answer is - if you are honest and I am - we don’t know. We are going to find out. He is at a crossroads.  This is a regime that has been well known in the past for using military and lethal force to put down uprisings, most famously in Hama.

But Hama was not a peaceful uprising. Muslim Brotherhood elements were armed; they were killing government officials.

It was not a fair fight, but it was one the Muslim Brotherhood had actually started back in the 70s with Hafez al-Assad’s regime. Nobody knows how many people were killed in those days of fighting. Estimates go anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 but the lesson was not lost on the Syrian people. Since that time Syria has had virtually no well-organize internal opposition groups.

Bashar al-Assad has to decide: Is he going to follow the playbook of the people around his father who for the first thirty years put down any signs of organized political activity against the regime with an iron fist or is he going to try to get out in front of what will almost certainly be a building protest movement even if the uprising in Daraa is squelched?

The President’s [longtime advisor Bouthaina Shaaban] says, I was in the room and President al-Assad told our security people they were not use lethal force.  Yet even today the shooting has gone on. Now what are we to conclude when a President has been in power 11 years and has had the chance to fill all the key appointments in the military, security and intelligence establishments, and his spokesperson says in effect he wasn’t responsible for this [killing]? It’s clear he’s trying to distance himself from it, but you can't.

I only hope and wish that President Bashar al-Assad, who I think is essentially a guy who started off as a very decent human being does not...allow himself to be pulled into - in Darth Vader terms - the dark side.

I imagine that the main pressures within the Syrian regime are for him to clamp down further.

Well, there may be countervailing pressure - his wife.  I never met with Asma al-Assad but I know many people who have. She’s a by all accounts a highly educated woman who worked in banking in the West before she married him.

She grew up in England. She is a very intelligent, beautiful and chic woman and she has children and I’m sure that she does not want Syria to be plunged into a blood bath. I’m speculating but I think the speculation is based on having followed this family for a while.

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Topics: Middle East • Perspectives • Q&A • Syria

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Tom

    It's a good thing that Syrian security forces killed dozens of unarmed protesters, otherwise liberals would be calling the allied western forces murderers for failing to protect them.

    March 26, 2011 at 4:23 am | Reply
    • Will

      How much moonshine/percocet should I ingest in order to "decode" your idiotic inbred redneck ramblings?

      March 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Reply
      • bds

        Use the same amount you used before your wrote your moronic comment.

        March 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • JAlexander

      so a journalist is enamoured with the looks of this woman....Assad should go into a jealous range and send a hitman after him. the angle of that photo with her head turned and hair swept make all the difference...she'd be less appealing with a different angle. that said, other than the lookism interest of the writer, she is of doubtful influence. the proposal that she can change anything sounds like romanticism and fantasy. Assad is obviously killing people and he has no intent to stop until the uprising is suppressed. same in bahrain, yemen, libya, saudi arabia, etc. if the people want freedom, then must be willing to die for it through sustained and organized revolution. i wish them the best of luck and may the autocrats be beheaded as europe in past did to their despotic kings/rulers. what i really want to see is women to rise in these oppressive backwards societies....i'd be in favour of military intervention to help bring about and enforce the Universal rights of women as recognized by the United Nations Charter.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Reply
      • Ara

        masoud says:September 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm I think those suggesting the WTC were rgegid with explosives should be able to provide a reasonable explanation as to why no one has blabbed about it. Masoud,For my part, the explosives' hypothesis is based on observation of the manner three buildings collapsed, presence of molten steel, and presence of iron micro-spheres and thermitic material found in abundance in the dust. On the other hand, nobody can claim to know whether it were 10 people over 2 years, or a team of 100 who did the rigging over 2 months. Nobody can claim to know if they knew what they were doing, or simply given a job and had no idea; Nobody can tell you their nationality, let alone their motivation, and therefore nobody can say whether or not they are even alive to be babbling.How then does one hold hostage a forensic examination for proving/refuting the presence of nano-themite? Demanding a cogent explanation for why an unknown number of people, of unknown affiliation may or may not have babbled, is unfair.Any genuine investigation starts with a determination of WHAT happened before moving on to WHO did it and for what purpose. As I was telling Photi earlier in this thread:If you start with WHO=Saddam then WHAT='mobile labs.' Conversely if you start with WHAT=Ames strain Anthrax, then the WHO cannot possibly be Saddam.

        March 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Sam

      Yes the protesters are peaceful and unarmed. That's why government buildings as well as private properties are being vandalized and destroyed and Syrian security officers are being attacked and injured with stab wounds and gunshots. Don't you dare touch those peaceful people! What a joke...

      March 29, 2011 at 2:43 am | Reply
    • levend

      No oil no intervention, cash for protection! that sounds like the mafia

      March 29, 2011 at 4:06 am | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    I hope the first lady of Syria, Asma al Assad would exert an influence on her husband and prevent their country from being shelled by the coaltion forces. It seems that women have been playing a leading role in the last events lately. President Obama had also a few women to thank for his engagement in Libya: Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and two prominent members of the National Security Council, Samantha Power and Gayle Smith. If Richard Holbrooke were still alive, he and Robert Gates might have changed the situation.

    March 26, 2011 at 6:48 am | Reply
    • truefax

      Maybe if she gave all involved a blowjob, other than that I don't see how.

      March 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  3. Ariely

    If a dictator kills in one day 40.000 citizenS
    -he was considered by the west a force of stability
    If a dictator kills couple of citizens
    ––he is blamed.

    Hafez Assad decided that Hama would be the staging point of the example he was to make to the Syrian people
    In 1982 the Syrian government killed in one day
    ---------–
    30,000 – 40,000
    ---------–
    of its own citizens.

    Assad leveled an entire city with an air bombardment followed by artillery and tank fire.

    Are the Syrians still afraid from their government brutality?
    Will his son Assad junior follow his father example?
    Will the Syrians be destructed by Assad junior toward the traditional Arabs/Iran dictators and theocrats imaginary Israel conspiracy?

    Is the world still practicing the same values?

    March 26, 2011 at 9:37 am | Reply
    • JohnR

      Oh yeah, the west was real buddy, buddy with Hafez Assad.

      March 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
    • FreeSyria

      How can a dictator's wife be glamarous? Is it at the cost of the Syrian people?!! Just go to Syria and see from city to city, and you can judge for yourself. Jobs are scarce, if there are any? Well educated persons have no jobs to find in Syria. You cannot talk freely about anyting, as in any civilsed country. Everyone fears their own shadow. Only corruption exists, fear, fear, and more fear. Hama was leveled to silence the people who were asking for their basic human freedom of existence, and it was blamed that there was a brotherhood to crush, which is inaccurate. Now the people have reached a point where they are dying everyday, so they will protest peacefully for their BASIC human rights. They have reached a point where they have nothing left to lose, but gain freedom for themselves and the future of the country.
      One should ask himself, how is it that an ancient, Biblical country as Syria which was the center of civilisation, the jewel for the Roman Empire (Ceasar himself conquered Syria for its riches, agriculture, geography, among other things), keeps regressing back in time, further back to previous centuries.
      May God protect those that are brave enough to ask for their freedom in Syria and all of the middle east.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Reply
      • Sam

        How can anyone call the Hama events an uprising? Those "uprising" Muslim Brotherhood terrorists were bombing and assassinating civilians all over the country, in parks, universities, hospitals, and even in their homes and places of work. Hafez al-Assad stressed the importance of stopping people who kill innocent people in the name of religion. This was 1982. Unlike America's problems in Afghanistan and Iraq, Hafez was able to actually effectively stop it and innocent civilians were given ample opportunity to leave before Hama was leveled. Speaking of freedoms, look around Syria: Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc. Syria remains the best out of them. Lebanon, that is supposed to be democratic, has some sort of problem with idiots killing each other every few years over leadership. Women in Syria have been allowed to vote before women in Canada were. In public sector jobs, women in Syria are guaranteed equality in pay to the men. Also in public sector jobs, women with children are allowed to come late or leave early to send/pick up their children from school and be by their side. Syria is a model for the region. It is disgusting how it is being slandered in the mainstream media while the millions who rally in support of Assad are ignored. They're not even asked by media about their opinions, instead it's always those same witnesses that say "security forces were firing at us, they cut off the electricity and we couldn't see anything and there was shooting from everywhere." I like how those witnesses can see and identify security forces in pitch darkness. They are truly supermen!

        March 29, 2011 at 2:53 am |
      • FreeSyria

        For those that purport that the Hama massacre consisted of terrorists, provide evidence to such rehetoric. Nonetheless, the evidence persists that such accusations were invalid and fabricated. The Biblical city that dates back to as early as 1000 B.C., among other cities in Syria, is rich in history, antiquity, civilisation, among other great aspects. It was never a terrorist city. Rather, it was one of the most sought after historic regions in the middle east. People all over the globe came to see Hama, and they continue to do so, for what little is left of its history.
        Syria in general has always been the epitomy of civilisation, and this extends into women's rights. Historically, and long before there was such a term, women have always played a prominent role in society (education, employment, and family). To compare statistics of women being as the first to vote before Canada (no disrespect implied), or having equal pay to those as men, and etc., does great injustice to the history and integrity of Syrian women and civilisation. It is facile to take a grand country as Syria, rich for its history and values of equality, strip of such, force into a backward ideology, and then compare it to other countries in modern times that are not of equal historic civilisation to state that at least Syria...(again, no disrespect implied). Syria should be compared against its own civilisation, not to other countries. The great USA, the UK, France, Spain, Germany, and so forth, cannot be compared to each other, although similarities persist. Each of these countries have their own rich history. To compare them to each other would do injustice to the integrity of each of these nations. The same is applied to Syria. Equlality is for all, not the selected few.

        March 29, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • FreeSyria

      Lest we forget the torture chambers for all those that dare to say anything, and the presumed guilty until proven innocent charges. That is, if these people are lucky enough to get out of the torture prisons.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Reply
      • Jacinta

        So your against America's makeshift Guantanamo Bay...? Have you started protesting yet?

        March 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      ...aaaaand your point is? lol. I love it how the third-world monkeys always yell and scream about moral equivalency...in pursuit of some metaphysical justice...but as soon as you give them power, they'll behead their own kin to hang on to it.

      Ladies and Gents....the truth is....all of the death/carnage/bloodshed in the Arab world and Africa is to blame on one man, and one man only...Woodrow Wilson...the idiot who came up with the concept of "indigenous/ethnic sovereignty." This is where we moved away from the stable and tranquil colonialism to a humanist perversion in geopolitics....and the Arab world and Africa has paid the price every since. The stron ones should (benevolently) rule the weak for their own good...until the weak become strong enough to defeat the strong...and so on and so forth. No amount of human pacifism or "enlightened" thinking can overcome the laws of nature.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Reply
      • Rick

        ZEIG HEIL!!!!

        hahahahah

        March 29, 2011 at 1:00 am |
      • Sam

        It may have had something with the fact that when colonialists left, they installed their own dictators and funded them. Good examples: Jordan, Egypt/Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Bahrain, Libya... Those our the only the ones that comes to mind where I know for a fact they installed dictators, often in the form of a king, except for Lebanon. I grouped Egypt and Sudan together because they had the same king imposed on them post-colonialism. This is as far as I'm going to go into it here. People who actually care can look stuff up for themselves to educate themselves. You will not get valid opinions from US ambassadors, advisors, intelligence officers, think tanks, research organizations, etc etc bla bla bla

        March 29, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  4. haleyA

    I don't honestly think that Asma Assad will have any significant say in what goes on in Syria. Although I have witnessed first-hand the quiet and sometimes broad manipulative power that Middle Eastern women often exert within their families, the forces at work here are much bigger than the first lady, her husband, or even the Assad family.

    Syria is the keystone of the Levant and the geopolitical players with stakes in this situation include Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestinian refugees, Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas – not to mention international players like France, the UK, the US, Russia, and China. Plus, there is a vast machinery of power structures at work within Syria. Even if he had the will to do so, the power of mild-mannered, unassertive President Bashar Assad to effect change in the country is itself questionable. His wife's power to do anything other than counsel him personally is unimaginable.

    At the extreme, Asma Assad may have ties to wealthy expatriates in the West who could create support for certain actions taken by Western nations; but even that is no key to the city. Anyone who thinks that one woman, no matter how glamorous or westward-leaning, can face down the Secret Police, or Hamas, or the Revolutionary Guard obviously does not understand Middle Eastern culture or politics. Perhaps in our world of Jane Fondas and Angelina Jolies, this might be possible, but it is not an option in the world in which Asma Assad lives. In our world, the worst these voices might endure is angry criticism or being made fun of; in Asma Assad's world, the kind of advocacy required for change could mean martyrdom. I doubt that is a role that Mrs. Assad is eager to fill.

    These ideas may seem extreme to the Western mind, but they are real. We must remember that the clearly orchestrated death of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri was tied to Syrian authorities. We must also remember that being arrested for protest and dissent in Syria does not mean what we in the West think of – sitting in a cell for a few hours, perhaps even having our rights violated – it means beatings, torture, lifelong imprisonment without anyone ever knowing what's happened to you, and even death. This is a situation with serious forces at work and far-reaching consequences for the region; Asma Assad is no player here. The greatest effect she is likely to have in all this is, somewhere down the road, convincing her husband to flee the country for Europe. But that will only solve their problems as a family, not Syria's problems, not the problems of the people. Those are the real confines of her influence.

    March 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      I agree with you totally! Syria is not a U.S. or a Great Britain. Bashar al-Assad is not a Tony Blair or a Barack Obama and Asma al-Assad is not a Cherie Blair or a Michelle Obama. Indeed the geopolitical situation in Syria are more complicated than that in Tunisia and Libya.

      March 27, 2011 at 6:28 am | Reply
  5. Jacinta

    God Bless Bashar! I have been to Syria many times over the last 20 years. And the progress made in Bashars term has been very obviouse and promising. Syrians have much more self pride and are becomming more self-sufficient as was evident in the positive economic growth that Syria was starting to embrace. God Bless all Syrian people, I pray there is no more bloodshed and that the Syrian people can pull togethor and get back to enjoyind the inter-religiouse harmony, which up until late, could only be found in Syria! God Bless Dr Bashar and his family.....! Syria Baladna.....and if your syrian, well you know how the rest goes :)!

    March 27, 2011 at 8:37 am | Reply
  6. ismail

    Change does not happen, without the solid "force" backing the request for change. Military in the Middle East has been the source and the protectors of the corrupt dictator's regimes for the last 30-40 years. Military guardianship does not bring democracy. US and EU is after such an intermediary solution to keep away islamic insurgane. To be able to bring democracy in the Middle East, young Democrats within the military need to be in control first. As long as International Armed Coalition Forces could not enforce peace within Israel and Palestine / Gaza, within the last 40 years and with experiences in Irak and Afganistan, Arabs and Muslem People will never accept the Western emposed solutions. The other possibility is the Regional Organizations of all Arab or Islamic Nations, such as Islamic Conferance, take initiative for solving their own problems, act as balance and arbitration. The concept of the Middle East and North African Treaty Organization, MENATO, needs to be supported by UN, US, EU and NATO.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:45 am | Reply
  7. Kal

    Oh come on why give her coverage? She is an apple from the same tree. If her husband’s regime fails, they will be broke. They will lost most of there assets accumulated through the theft of the country. Her husband comes from a minority that is 10% of the country, but through use of the government they have gone on to control 90% of the wealth. Oh and some these hardcore pro Syrian government posters are government sympathizers who are being told to praise her in the comments so that she can look good. The security forces do not value life; they will do anything possible to protect the ruling family. They have censored all media, and loyal allies intimidate reports so not to make it to obvious that it was government sponsored. Do you really think that the spouses of most presidents and even madmen didn’t know or were complicit in what there spouses were doing? Yet they still went out there denying everything.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:50 am | Reply
    • Beka

      If her father is a Cardologist in the UK then her family has their own money. I do not know her at all, but I cannot believe that she would care more about money than the lives of her citizens. Although greed and power does do crazy things to people no matter where they are from....

      March 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  8. Jacinta

    You who are commenting....and who seem to be experts on the region, have any of you been to Syria? America should concern itself with ruling its own people....but it keeps them occupied with internal issues, whether it be substance abuse, obesity, mental health issues, violence, profanity......Truly if any nation should rise up against its leaders it is the people of the USA.....Syrians may be led by a authotarian regime, but the Assads dont deny this. America fronts itself as a Loving, Liberal country....but deep down, there are powers that would do anything to ensure the political agenda will always remain pro-israel....hence the unequivocal support for Israels crimes against humanity...American government chooses to turn a blin eye....and as for the american people...are they just blind?

    March 27, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Reply
    • Rick

      If I have to choose between the" crimes against humanity" of the Israeli's or of the Palestinians I'd have no choice but to side with the Israeli's. And ask most westerners if they'd rather have Jews as their neighbours or Muslims and I can assure you the majority would pick Jews. Maybe in 50 years we can talk about the 2 sides in equal terms but for now siding with the only other democracy in the region seems the preferable route. Therefore why wouldn't the west choose to support the Israelis??

      March 29, 2011 at 1:11 am | Reply
  9. Lynn Cee

    Asma Akhras al-Assad is of the Sunni majority, unlike her ruling-minority Alawite (aka Ansari) husband. Asma Assad presents like a proud Syrian who takes herself and her role extremely seriously — let's hope that points up her purpose to prevail upon her husband toward some basic freedoms and rights for the people of Syria.

    March 27, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  10. Tom

    Many forces are at play in the Levant. In addition to religion, Levantine Arabs identify themselves by village of birth, family name, kinship structure and connection, having wasta, and only lastly, by nation. The outcome will depend on the interplay of all these forces not just the influence of a single person.

    March 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  11. Gunzi

    As we are repeatedly reminded of the Hama massacre of 1982, let's also remember be repeatedly reminded however that the military commander who ordered his troops to bombard Hama in the first place is Hafez Al-Assad's brother in exile Rifaat el-Assad. He is only nicknamed "the butcher"!! and is the most corrupt Syrian alive. Let's also remember that he will support any opportunity, along with his Saudi Allies, to cause tension that would threaten his nephew's position.

    March 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  12. Ozzi

    I never felt that Bashir Al-Assad ever had any real control over Syria and that his brother was murdered by auto rather than accident.

    There is a very good chance that Rifaat Al-Assad will come to power at the request of the West to force stability on the people.

    March 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  13. Count Of Montecristo

    Syrian should be shepharded by King of Arabia. Rename Kingdom of Greater Arabia.Problem solved.

    March 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  14. Katherine Chahda Abou-Deeb (Graham)

    I am Syrian born, and even though I am married to an American citizen, and our children are US citizen I am still in love with my birth County I love Syria and the advancement and safety Basshar and Mrs. Asad have contributed to Syria. When we go to visit relatives, my husband is treated with respect and and given permission to stay as long as he wishes. He goes on walks alone without ever being scared because of being an America. We stay in my father's old house, and every one treats us with so much respect. There is complete freedom in our town. when my father was alive,and in his old age turned blind, the key to enter his house was on the outside, so when people came to visit him, they let themselves in and after they visited they locked the door on the outside so others can come in. thanks to our president Basshar Al Assad who caused the people to love each other and enjoy peace and prosperity. shame on those trouble makers, causing all the blood shed and disturbing the peace. They are only doing all the damage not because Basshar has not been good to them, but because they want to destroy the country's image of freedom of worship, freedom of faith and religion. They only want to put us back in the dark ages... what a shame, and it is more shameful of the united states to support the enemies of those religious fanatics who are killing Christians in many countries in the Arab Troubled world. Shame on the united states who profess separation of church and state and support those who are religious fanatics, such as radical Islam and and the jewish Religion. There is no difference what so ever between the two fait. They both believe eye for an Eye and tooth for a tooth. My advice to those powerful nation that are killing innocent civilians to protect their their interest only, They have no business getting involved in the internal affairs of any country.. Get rid of your greed and leave people alone to manage their problems, and perhaps the world will become a better world for our children and grand children.

    March 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Reply
    • Jacinta

      I Couldnt agree with you More – comming from an Australian/Syrian!! God Bless Syria, and God Bless President Bashar Al Assad!

      March 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • Lee

      Katherine……Mickey Mouse is on the phone and he wants Disneyland back! What an utterly ridiculous assessment of the situation in Syria. For whatever reasons, your family has thrived off the current regime. Good for you, however, that is obviously NOT the case for the average Syrian. No? I’m sorry, I must have been misled by the thousands of protesters taking to the streets! What do you think they are risking their lives because they had nothing else to do that day? Obviously, you have become disconnected from what the average Syrian’s experience is. And so sorry America can’t be as moral as Syria! Maybe you better think about relocating your family to a country with higher moral standards like Iran. Don’t worry. I’m sure your buddy Assad will be there soon enough to keep you company!

      March 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Reply
      • Jacinta

        Lee having never been to Syria, you would believe this story to be out of "Disneyland"...because unfortunately that is all Americans know. Fables. Yes as a syrian we are happy with Bashar Al Assad. My family is from the poorer Wadi al Nassara...Valley of the Nazarenes (christians) and have been to Sryia many times this poorer class have een able to live in peace and become more self sufficient. Many of these villages are now thriving. Syrias booming economy was recently reported in BBC News...so sorry my dear, this is not a "story"....Of course the WEST would want us to believe this is untrue, how can people -even christians be happy with their islamic leader. Well being from Syria, we have a right to comment. Unlike yourself, your news comes from "News Corp." with alterior motives always at stake.

        March 28, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
      • Jacinta

        P.S We were actually thinking about relocating....but with the situation as it is, and the chance of extrmists taking power such as those in power in Saudia Arabia...We will be putting that thought on hold! I urge you to compare the situation of people i Saudia Arabia. My husband worked there....but again you only know what you are fed through TV, and of course because Saudia Arabia is Americas ally, you wont be hearing much about them. Also what about that protestor shot in the head in bahrain, I can send you the link if you like. But hand on Bahrain is Saudia Arabis's ally --hence we wont be hearing about their plight anymore. Lee dont be so ignorant as your media channels would expect you to be. Think outside the square.

        March 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
      • FreeSyria

        Lee, thank you!!!!!

        To utter one word against the slightest of issues, will land anyone in jail. For these protestors to expose themselves asking for change is VERY BRAVE!!!

        By the way, for those that claim America is not as great as Syria, or any other Western country for that matter, should ask themselves why are they not living in Syria if it is so much better? Or perhaps they are enjoying the basic equalities and rights of what the west offers and only to return to Syria feeling above all of its citizens as if they are first class and Syrian citizens are second class??

        March 29, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  15. FreeSyria

    HAMA WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!! IT WILL BE THE DAY OF RECKONING FOR THE ASSAD REGIME!!!!!

    March 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  16. Born To Scream

    Just like any dictator, Assad must go too.

    March 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  17. Ethan

    Does CNN use editors?

    March 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  18. The Dirty Paki

    Assad's wife is very hot, if Assad goes, I'd like to have her in my harem.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Oq2kUu5vcc&w=640&h=390]

    March 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Reply
    • Jacinta

      Your an idiot – thats not his wife...seriosuly when I say America should worry about its own internal problems, I mean it...the lewdness and sexualisation of everything. Disgusting! I pray that Syria NEVER takes part in an "amerca" democracy....the state of social affairs in America is shocking, that I would much rather our "dictator" who has helped preserve one of the lowest crime rates in the world, and has insittled a sound MORAL code amongst his people!

      March 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  19. the_dude

    I don't see how she would stop any violence? Beautiful women are not the solution to every problem you know CNN? If they were the solution you would fire wolf blitzer and andersonn cooper like tomorrow.

    March 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  20. Sunny

    If and just IF Bashar Al Assad really educated, and well rounded as he is claiming, he will understand rolling a nation, or having a president position is a JOB, is not an assets inherited, and the goal is not accumulating wealth.
    First he should grow up and take down these posters and statues.
    Wake up Russian's Empire is gone ..DA

    March 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  21. Count Of Montecristo

    Assad in Syria forever. Dynasty.

    March 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  22. heebiejeebie

    Yes, She like the jackie onasis! She like madonna or angelina jolie! She a real bigtime political woman in middle east politics! Maybe she can meet with lady gaga and come up with the political solution for her husband to step down and then invite bono to have a lunch together. everybody happy! hello kitty!

    March 29, 2011 at 8:31 am | Reply
  23. ceti

    Asma is in the news due to her Vogue article, but she is not the only powerful woman in Bashar's inner circle. There are pretty clear divisions in the elite circles with the hardline elements hopefully losing the upper hand.

    Also, in terms of Hama it is Rifaat el-Assad, uncle to Bashar and the actual commander of the operation, who was responsible to the draconian response to Islamist provocation. He was exiled after the fact, but has been scheming for decades to get back and overthrow his nephew with the help of the Saudis, Americans, and even Israelis on the model of the puppet Iraqi National Congress. This is the butcher that would usurp power if allowed.

    March 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Reply
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  27. lmori

    Kind of hard to exert influence when you're hiding with your kids in London isn't it?
    "Oh my god. She's so glamorous and intelligent. She can't possibly allow all this killing to happen!"
    Moron.

    December 1, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Reply

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