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The British-born wife of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had expressed hopes for liberalization in Syria, but leaked emails suggest otherwise.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Asma al-Assad, wife of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, said in a leaked email to a friend that she was "the REAL dictator," the Daily Telegraph reported.
In an exchange about spousal relationships, the first lady joked, "As for listening – I am the REAL dictator, he has no choice," the Telegraph wrote. She also criticized as unfair the editing of an interview with Bashar al-Assad that aired on ABC news.
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Asma al-Assad had been portrayed as a liberal reformer in Western media prior to the year-old Syrian uprising. Vogue magazine profiled her faborably in a February 2011 article that was later revealed by The Hill to have been facilitiated by an American lobbying firm paid by the Syrian government, The Atlantic reported. In the article, writer Joan Juliet Buck praised the Assad household as "wildly democratic."
The article was criticized after it coincided with the start of the crackdown on peaceful democratic protesters last year. The article was purged from Vogue's website and archives, but is still available on a Bashar al-Assad fan website.
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The new release comes just days after a batch of emails leaked last week to The Guardian provided rare insight into the inner power circles of the Syrian government.
The new emails suggest that Asma al-Assad is close to her husband and supportive of the government led crackdown on protesters and rebel forces. Referring to a January speech, she said Bashar al-Assad "gave a sense of being 'very strong, no more messing around,' " the Telegraph reported.
She also criticized residents of the Syrian city of Homs just days before the star of an army onslaught that killed hundreds.