Leaked e-mails reveal the cosseted life of Syria's first family, also show how Assad indulged in online entertainment as country was on brink of civil war
Syrian President Bashar Assad swapped YouTube videos and shopped on iTunes as his country teetered on the brink of civil war, apparently leaked e-mails show.
Love in the midst of war: One of the e-mails shows the Syrian leader sending his wife Asma lyrics of a song by US country star Blake Shelton. File pic/getty images
While his forces battered Homs with artillery, he appears to have sent his British-born wife baleful country and western song lyrics, while she spent thousands on trinkets and furniture.
Away from the horror The e-mails from the inboxes of the Assads that expose how Assad's coterie continued to enjoy a gilded lifestyle insulated from the slaughter around them.
The e-mails appear to show how thousands of dollars were spent on shopping for handmade furniture from London boutiques. Thousands more were lavished on gold jewellery, chandeliers, curtains and paintings.
While the country was rocked by Assad's crackdown, his inner circle was concerned about the possibility of getting hold of a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, or a new chocolate fondue set while he was was busy downloading tracks by LMFAO, New Order and Chris Brown from Apple's iTunes.
He also bought Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order, Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO, We Can't Go Wrong by The Cover Girls, Hurt by Leona Lewis, Look at Me Now by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. The details of the Assads high living are likely to infuriate many Syrians who have had to negotiate shortages. On July 19, 2011, Asma could be found placing orders for jewellery.
She requested four necklaces: "One turquoise with yellow gold diamonds and a small pave on side" as well as a corneline full black onyx and "amethyst with white gold diamonds of similar design".
Most jarring were the occasions when the Assad family were shopping or joking online, often using pseudonyms. In July, Alia (Asma) is found placing an order for about �10,000 (Rs 7.90 lakh) worth of candlesticks, tables and chandeliers to be shipped from a Paris designer through a company in Dubai.
In Britain, suppliers said they were unaware that the woman behind the e-mail was in fact Syria's first lady. "I had no idea," said one of them.
Reforms a joke The e-mails also revealed Assad's flippant attitude towards reforms.
In July when she e-mailed him, he replied, "This is the best reform any country can have that u told me where will you be, we are going to adopt it instead of the rubbish laws of parties, elections, media..."
Sometimes he searched the Internet for video clips that impressed him, on one occasion sending her a clip from America's Got Talent.