Update: The Fiddler and his wife; fiddling an age-old tune


Last year in March, I wrote a blog about President Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma al-Assad; in that blog, I suggested that they, like many other leaders of nations in turmoil, continued to act and think as if the situation in their country was peaceful and calm.  Just another day in the palace for watching television, telling jokes, playing tennis, buying expensive things on the Internet and enjoying the good life at the top of the heap for the happy, handsome couple.

When their country is faced with disaster, these leaders fail to see the danger and continue in their old ways, playing their fiddle as it were as the empire burns.

President Assad and his lovely British-born wife may indeed be playing their fiddles, if the emails are real.  The Guardian has moved on, the Assad email story was hardly worthy of two days of coverage, but for Al Arabiya, it is a bigger story with a much longer shelf life.  Yesterday, Al Arabiya said  it would not reproduce or comment on purely personal communications and would only report on those emails that had an implication for the current fighting in Syria.  Today, an article talked about Assad making jokes about dying Syrians, playing tennis while complaining to the world press that the Arab League was killing him and of his wife buying expensive English things – playing a violin duet together.  I can almost hear the cannons echoing behind them, as the violins play Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, can’t you? March 17, 2012

A year ago the situation in Syria was dire indeed and nearly everyone, except the Syrians themselves, said it could not last much longer; the regime was certain to soon.  No collapse yet; the death toll now is approximately 60,000, over twice as many as it was in March of 2012.  There are no signs today that Assad is any weaker or more vulnerable than he was a year ago; there are no indications that Assad and his army have changed tactics or are any more willing to negotiate than they were eleven months ago.  The situation is every bit as grim and dire as it was, every day brings news of more bodies of executed Syrians found, more people killed by aerial bombing and more pitched battles in Damascus, Aleppo or some other city.  The situation may even be worse that a year ago, both sides have dug in and appear willing to fight it out to the bitter end.  The international community seems less likely to do anything but complain, send a bit of money, food and sympathy.

The emails that Al Arabiya trotted out last year have long ago run out of steam. The palace is quiet, there are no emails and no deserters telling tales; very little, if any, inside information is leaking out of Syria these days about the Assads.  And yet, there was a breaking story today – Asma is pregnant with the fourth child of Bashar.   Now, the couple may not have been making jokes, buying clothes, playing tennis or the fiddle – but it looks like they found time to for fiddling of another kind.  So while the streets are filled with angry people, guns, pain, suffering and death, the president and his lady are in the presidential chamber making whoopee.

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