Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Syria update: Assad interview notes hacked; wife defends him; hundreds more dead (UPDATE)

From Ha'aretz:

Hundreds of emails from Syrian President Bashar Assad's office were leaked on Monday after an attack by the hacker group Anonymous. One of the email files, which Haaretz has obtained, was a document preparing Assad for his December 2011 interview with ABC's Barbara Walters.

Assad's TV interview with Walters was memorable for his repeated denials that Syrian citizens were being killed. "We don't kill our people ... no government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person," Assad told Walters.

About 10 days before the interview, Sheherazad Jaafari - a press attache at the Syrian mission to the United Nations - sent a long email to former Al Jazeera journalist Luna Chebel, who now works in Assad's bureau. She also sent the email to an aide of Shaaban's. Jaafari, who was involved in arranging the interview with Walters, also happens to be the daughter of the Syrian ambassador to the UN, Dr. Bashar Jaafari.

Jaafari Jr. wrote: "The major points and dimensions that have been mentioned a lot in the American media are: The idea of violence has been one of the major subjects brought up in every article. They use the phrases 'The Syrian government is killing its own people,' 'Tanks have been used in many cities,' 'Airplanes have been used to suppress the peaceful demonstrations,' and 'Security forces are criminals and bloody.'"

She advised: "It is hugely important and worth mentioning that 'mistakes' have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized 'police force.' American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are 'mistakes' done and now we are 'fixing it.' It's worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by policemen, police dogs and beatings."

Jaafari also recommended that Assad say: "Syria doesn't have a policy to torture people, unlike the USA, where there are courses and schools that specialize in teaching policemen and officers how to torture."She advised using Abu Ghraib in Iraq or execution via electric chair as more examples.

She added that that mentioning the talkbacks on articles in the American media are a useful tool, saying that "the Americans are asking their government to stop interfering in other countries' business and sovereignty and to start taking care of American internal issues."

"It is worth mentioning that when Obama asked H.E. to step down he himself have had a 70% decrease of his popularity in the States," Jaafari wrote.

"It would be worth mentioning how your personality has been attacked and praised in the last decade according to the media. At one point H.E. was viewed as a hero and in other times H.E. was the 'bad guy'. Americans love these kinds of things get convinced by it."

Jaafari also stressed that Facebook and YouTube are important to "the American mindset" and advised to mention that "the face that Facebook and YouTube are open now – especially during the crisis – is important."

Assad's wife, who was famously profiled along with her wonderful dictator husband in the Vogue puff-piece a year ago, has now come out publicly in support of the regime:
The British-born wife of Syria’s president has spoken in support of her husband for the first time since the 11-month uprising against his regime began, a British newspaper reported Tuesday.

“The President is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the First Lady supports him in that role,” The Times quoted Asma al-Assad as saying in an email sent via an intermediary from her office.

The email is her first communication with the international media since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime began, The Times said.

“The First Lady’s very busy agenda is still focused on supporting the various charities she has long been involved with and rural development as well as supporting the President as needed,” the email reportedly continued.

“These days she is equally involved in bridging gaps and encouraging dialogue. She listens to and comforts the families of the victims of the violence.” it added.

Stylish and charismatic and with a degree from King’s College in London where she was raised, the former investment banker had helped promote the soft side of an iron-fisted regime.
Heavy bombardment of the Syrian city of Homs resumed on Tuesday after violence in Syria killed as many as 128 people as Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov started a visit to Damascus.

“The bombardment is again concentrating on Bab Amro. A doctor tried to get in there this morning but I heard he was wounded,” Mohammad al-Hassan, an activist in Homs, told Reuters by satellite phone.

“There is no electricity and all communications with the neighborhood has been cut,” he added.

Monday’s deaths included 19 children and 15 women. At least 61 people have been killed in Homs alone, as the neighborhoods of Bayyada, Ensha’at and Bab Amro are still bombarded by all kinds of rockets and mortar shells, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian activists.

A member of the main opposition Syrian National Council said Assad’s forces killed scores of people people in a sustained bombardment of Homs, a center of armed opposition to his rule, two days after activists reported more than 200 people were killed in shelling.

A resident of Homs told AFP the latest assault began shortly after 0400 GMT Monday, with unprecedented barrages of rockets, mortar rounds and artillery shells.

“What is happening is horrible, it’s beyond belief,” said activist Omar Shaker, reached by telephone as loud detonations were heard in the background.

“There is nowhere to take shelter, nowhere to hide,” he said. “We are running short of medical supplies and we are only able to provide basic treatment to the injured.”

One video posted on YouTube apparently showed a field hospital hit by shelling in the Baba Amro district and wounded patients lying on stretchers on the floor amid pools of blood and shattered glass.

Footage shot by a BBC undercover team in Homs showed buildings ablaze in rebel neighborhoods as they were pounded with heavy weapons.
UPDATE: Speaking of Asma Assad, you can check out her hypocrisy here:

(h/t Yair)