Asma al-Assad, the reclusive first lady of Syria, took to social media on Friday to lash out at the U.S. after President Trump ordered a series of airstrikes in response to the chemical attack in Idlib that killed dozens, including many children, and left scores severely wounded.
Assad, the husband of Syria’s strongman president Bashar al-Assad, posted a statement on Facebook that read as if it were written by the regime and condemned the strikes as “irresponsible,” news.com.au reported over the weekend. The statement Assad made wasn’t widely reported on, but is significant given how infrequently she speaks out and how even less frequently she discusses actual issues. Assad’s Instagram feed is largely a propaganda stream of photos depicting the first lady looking glamorous and performing charitable acts, with virtually no sign of the suffering and crisis that is plaguing much of the war-torn country.
“The presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic affirms that what America has done is an irresponsible, irresponsible act that only reflects a short-sightedness, a narrow horizon, a political and military blindness to reality, and a naive pursuit of a frenzied false propaganda campaign that fueled the regime’s arrogance,” Assad said in the post, according to a Google translation.
Last October, Assad, 41, a dual British-Syrian citizen who once worked as an investment banker with JPMorgan in London and New York, gave her first interview in eight years to NBC News. At the time, she said that she’d been “offered the opportunity to leave Syria, or rather to run from Syria,” but declined to do so, opting to stay because the offer “was a deliberate attempt to shatter people’s confidence in their president.” She also had choice words for the Western media, which she criticized for focusing so heavily on the plight of refugees.
The topic of the war in Syria and what role the U.S. should play in the region featured prominently in several panels at the 8th Annual Women in the World Summit in New York City last week. Annie Sparrow and Rola Hallam, two doctors who have worked extensively in Syria treating the wounded, spoke out about the suffering they’ve witnessed and how the Assad regime targets doctors who travel there to help heal the wounded. Later in the evening, Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, was interviewed onstage by MSNBC host Greta Van Susteren, who pressed her on the U.S. approach to Syria. “Greta, we don’t do soft power,” Haley told her. The next evening, Trump launched the airstrikes.
Just hours before the U.S. Navy began firing tomahawk missiles, Hillary Clinton sat down onstage with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for her first interview since the 2016 presidential election. Kristof asked Clinton whether the U.S. has been too slow to deal with the crisis in Syria head-on.
Clinton said she thought the U.S. should have implemented a no-fly zone over Syria years ago and been more willing to confront Assad earlier. Clinton went on to say she believed the U.S. should bomb Assad’s airfields, to prevent him from using his Air Force to attack his own people with sarin gas — a remark that drew a round of applause from the live audience. Within hours of comment, U.S. missiles began raining down on a Syrian airbase.
She then dovetailed into some interesting psychology about Bashar al-Assad, an ophthalmologist practicing in London who over the years ascended to the presidency and is now a ruthless dictator that can’t be ousted. It turns out, according to Clinton, that Assad has daddy issues and that psychology is the underlying factor driving his reign of terror. Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, was Syria’s president from 1971 until 2000. “[He] was never expected to be the one to succeed his father,” Clinton said. But, then an unexpected family development required Assad to return to Syria to succeed his father. Watch her full remarks on Syria and Assad in the Summit highlight below.