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Posted at 02:52 PM ET, 02/29/2012

Asma al-Assad: The fashionable face of tyranny

Behind every successful man, there is a woman, as the saying goes. Expand that to: Behind every dictator, there is a Louboutin-loving woman. The Guardian offers a glimpse at the lives of dictators’ wives, who must stand by their men in good times (Chanel shopping sprees, archaeological artifacts as home decor, St. Tropez ice cream parties) and bad (fleeing the country after a violent uprisings).
Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad: The British-born wife of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has spoken in support of her husband for the first time since the 11-month uprising against his regime began. (ANDREAS LAZAROU - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The Guardian’s story was spurred in part by Asma al-Assad’s recent support for her husband, President Bashar al-Assad, despite ongoing reports of the regime’s human rights violations in Syria. (You can read the latest news from Syria in The Post’s global news section).

In a statement to the Times of London, Asma al-Assad’s office said, “The president is the president of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the first lady supports him in that role.”

It was the first time she had issued a public statement since she was the subject of a feature story in Vogue last March, describing the Syrian first lady’s British roots, designer clothes and charity work. That article has now disappeared from the Vogue Web site, though the Atlantic was able to dig up an excerpt. A few days ago, she stood by her husband as he voted on a referendum on a proposed new constitution — one which opponents argue gives Assad broad power to decree laws and maintain the status quo.

Her return to public notice spurred the creation of a parody video. In the cleverly done remix, she appears to condemn the killing of innocent victims in Syria. The video purports to be a CNN interview about the siege of Homs. However, the footage of the composed first lady actually comes from a 2009 interview in which she discusses violence aimed at the Gaza Strip:

Here’s more on Asma al-Assad, and below her, some of the other dictators’ wives (and a daughter) mentioned in the Guardian story.


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad votes on the constitution that could end five decades of single-party domination as wife Asma looks on in Damascus. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

• Asma al-Assad has been called “the most stylish woman in world politics” by French Elle and “an eastern Diana,” a “ray of light in a country full of shadow zones” by Paris Match.

• Once dined with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie


Leila Ben Ali listens to Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali announcing that he will seek an unprecedented fourth five-year term in 2003, in Tunis. (FETHI BELAID - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

• According to the Guardian, Leila Ben Ali “took archaeological artifacts to decorate her palace rooms while her daughter and son in law flew in ice-cream from St-Tropez for dinner parties.”

• “A book by her butler recently described how she would ritually sacrifice chameleons to supposedly cast spells over her husband and how she punished one cook by plunging their hands into boiling oil.”


Safia Gaddafi, wife of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, is pictured with her children in their Bedouin tent Jan. 12, 1986. (REUTERS)

• Safia Gaddafi once said of husband Moammar Gaddafi: “If I thought he was a terrorist, I would not stay with him and have children with him. He is a human being.”


Aisha Gaddafi, daughter of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, claps during a pro-government rally at the heavily fortified Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli in April 2011. (LOUAFI LARBI - REUTERS)

• Aisha Gaddafi, daughter of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, was once described as the Claudia Schiffer of Libya.

By  |  02:52 PM ET, 02/29/2012

Tags:  World, Syria, Asma al-Assad

 
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