Why is Asma Al-Assad Making Headlines Amid the 10th Anniversary Of The Syrian Revolution?

Published March 15th, 2021 - 07:28 GMT
Asma al-Assad and her husband, the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad
Asma was born and raised in London before meeting Bashar in the 1990s. (AFP)

As we embark on the 10th anniversary of the Syrian revolution, social media is filled with photos, videos, and personal anecdotes from Syrians remembering the hardest 10 years of Syria's modern history. What seems to be surprising though is the unusual focus on Syria's first lady Asma Al-Assad.

While she was considered one of the few forces "leading reforms" in the country, following her marriage to Syria's young new president in the year 2000, thanks to her background being born and raised in the UK, Asma was quickly part of the Syrian regime's message to the world in the wake of the popular protests, that were part of the 2011 Arab Spring, that her country was under a foreign attack that demanded a heavy military reaction.

This week, several global publications have taken the time to shed light on Asma Al-Assad's background, her marriage to Bashar, and her involvement in public life prior to and after the 2011 revolution.

A lengthy report by the Economist has detailed how the young J.P. Morgan banker tried to present a modern and open Syria to the world, one that could "attract foreign investments." It also highlights her complicated relationship with the Assad family, notably Bashar's mother, who passed away in 2016.

Moreover, the report talks about the lavish lifestyle that Asma led even during the first months of the revolution, which resulted in millions of refugees displaced worldwide, hundreds of thousands of deaths, in addition to the destruction of many Syrian cities.

Finally, the Economist notes that Asma's last several years were focused on her battle with breast cancer, which she announced full recovery from in 2019.

Yet, the last week has also witnessed a number of global developments with Asma Al-Assad's name in the light, such as the Metropolitan police's decision to start a preliminary investigation into allegations of incitement on terror war crimes committed by Syrian government forces, ones that could cost Asma her British citizenship.

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