Home Page - Gulf in the Media
HomePoliticsEconomy                               Set Gulfinthemedia.com as home page
Opinions
"Postings of opinions published in the Gulf and international newspapers
 Print  Send This Page
Save Listen to this Article
That thorny rose in the desert   

Arab News - 29 April, 2012
Author: Fawaz Turki

Rejoice, all ye! As is well-known by now, the EU countries have banned Bashar Assad’s wife, Asma, a notorious shopaholic, from buying luxury goods in Europe. No more expensive Dior watches, Armani shoes, Guchi bags, Cartier rings and Prada dresses for the Syrian first lady.

True, a catastrophe for the poor dear — according to leaked e-mails recently, she reportedly shopped till she dropped even while the bloodbath in Homs was under way, ordering jewelry, chandeliers and designer clothing online from boutiques in Paris and London — though hardly a threat to her husband’s vicious dictatorship. But hey, as the songwriter’s lyrics would have it, little things mean a lot. Well, kinda.

Now enter Vogue.

Large circulation magazines in the US have always had a penchant for puffing up first ladies from our part of the world who “look” European (as opposed to dowdy-Semitic and brown-skinned), who project European chic and who know how attire themselves in European high couture. Anwar Sadat’s wife Jihan, Yasser Arafat’s wife Suha and now Bashar Assad’s wife Asma come to mind.

Consider the case then of how one such publication, Vogue, has recently not just gone overboard fawning over the Syrian first lady, but how its editors have made utter fools of themselves in the bargain. Now before you dismiss Vogue as a lowbrow magazine with less than exacting intellectual standards, you would do well to keep in mind that it is the world’s most influential fashion publication, issued monthly in 19 national editions and read roughly by 650,000 people who see it as the ultimate arbiter of political discourse gleaned through the prism of fashion. Its editorial articles and profiles are perused avidly by the country’s powerful industry elite. Just as, say, the New York Times could make or break a producer’s Broadway show, so could Vogue make or break a designer’s budding career.

Vogue is now the laughing stock of media watchdogs — those analysts on the lookout for transgressions by fellow journalists — over its infantile, over the top, tin-eared profile of Asma Assad as a true democrat who loves her people, well, to death. Dubbed “The Rose in the Desert,” the 3,200-word article, written by Joan Juliet Buck, a staff contributor, talks of Asma’s “energetic grace” and “analytic mind.” It describes the Assads as “wildly democratic,” a progressive couple who embrace all things American and passionately care for the welfare of their people.

Buck’s profile, which went to press as the Assad regime began its despotic crackdown on the opposition, proffers the revelation that “Mrs. Assad’s central mission is to change the mindset of six million Syrians under eighteen and encourage them to engage in what she calls ‘active citizenship’.” Nary a word in the entire piece about the Assad family’s history of repression over the last 42 years, and how Asma has emerged, through her personal excesses and cavalier pretenses, as the Imelda Marcos, perhaps even the Marie Antoinette, of the Arab Spring.

All of which of course has drawn widespread ridicule from watchdogs watching over transgressive blunders in their craft and from Washington’s foreign policy community. The end result? Vogue has done something virtually unheard of for a mainstream media organization to do — it scrubbed the article from its website, an act tantamount to acknowledgment by a publication that it has committed a colossal journalistic booboo. (The article, which has vanished from the Internet, is now available on the subscribers-only Nexus database and on PresidentAssad.net, a fan site of the Syrian government.)

There is no need to dredge up here the equally fawning profile of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, designer-attired Suha Arafat that appeared in the New Yorker in May, 1994, where the Palestinian first lady was described as a feminist, a refined, cultured young woman ardently dedicated to the interests of the Palestinian people. Never mind that Suha Arafat had chosen to give birth to her baby in Paris, not Gaza, where her husband was based at the time, because, as she was quoted saying, “there are too many germs” in the Strip. And never mind that the 4,000-word piece appeared in the New Yorker, the bastion of New York intellectual sophistication and style, the outpost of literary hip and political savvy.

So be dismissive, as this column is, of the puerile grasp that both the mainstream and elite media in the US has on the complex issues bedeviling Arab culture, politics and society. But be kind in your dismissal, for even professional journalists in the US have the tendency, if only subconsciously, to extrapolate from their own cultural experience. When you deal with the first lady in Damascus, Cairo or Ramallah, you accord her the same gifts of pomp and mystification, the same clichés and saccharine pathos, you attribute to the first lady in Washington.

And yet. Yet, the moment of drastic truth will one day arrive for Syria, as the country’s remaining cash reserves quickly dwindle, followed by a steady hollowing out of the economy in the face of sanctions and trade embargoes. A financial noose is tightening around the government’s neck. According to US intelligence officials and outside experts, quoted in the Washington Post recently, “Assad’s reserves and sizable black market income are probably sufficient to keep the regime’s elite in power for several months — perhaps longer.”

Then what? The Syrian people will still be around (in street lingo, we ain’t going nowhere), but will the 42-year-long reign of the Assad family? What will be their fate? And how will the 35-year-old Asma Assad, Syria’s Marie Antoinette, hack it without designer clothing and other Western baubles? Will she, when that drastic moment of truth arrives, as it surely must, be taken to task by her people?

Marie Antoinette was 37 on Oct. 16, 1793, when she was taken from her cell in the Conciergerie, the 14th century fortress on the Ile de la Cite in Paris, and paraded in an open oxcart on her way to the guillotine in the Place de la Revolution. Her beheading was preceded by a drum-roll.

In our culture, it is widely believed that for every oppressor, a day will come.



disinherited@yahoo.com
 
ISIS is the latest of many Islamisms
Source : The Daily Star  
Date : 2014-10-23
Author : Rami G. Khouri
The frightening rise and expansion of ISIS, which has now triggered yet another round of American-led foreign military attacks in the Levant, continues to confound many in the region and...
An ounce of prevention on terrorism in Abu Dhabi
Source : The Daily Star  
Date : 2014-10-23
Author : David Ignatius
This tiny international organization, whose Arabic name means "guidance," wants to be the softer face of the battle against such terror groups as ISIS. A brochure explains that if traditional...
Turkey's Reluctance to Help Against ISIS Should Be a Red Flag
Source : The Antiwar.com  
Date : 2014-10-23
Author : Ivan Eland
The questionable continuance of the NATO alliance after the Cold War ended is demonstrated by Turkey’s reluctance to help against the rampaging group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)....
In war against ISIL, a fine line between facts and artifacts
Source : Aljazeera.com  
Date : 2014-10-23
Author : Jessica Holland
On Sept. 22, a few hours before U.S. airstrikes began against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech...
Re-drawing the map of the Levant
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-10-23
Author : Eyad Abu Shakra
The little town of Ayn Al-Arab, called Kobani by the Turks and Kurds, is becoming a more important place in the Middle East political map than the great city of...
Escalating cost of medicines and mounting fraud in world
Source : Oman Daily Observer  
Date : 2014-10-23
Author : Haider Al Lawati
It seems that the prices of some essential products that we buy at our local markets are twice or three times their real value. This is because Oman has an...
The outstanding questions
Source : Gulf Today  
Date : 2014-10-23
Author : Alireza Jafarzadeh
The latest round of negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme took place recently, pitting the United States and its European partners against the Iranian regime's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. But...
The city of peace
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-10-23
Author : Labeed Abdal
The recent incident in which Israeli troops stormed into the Aqsa Mosque, attacking worshippers and preventing them from entering the place, gives the impression that there is a premeditated intention...
Tips for Saudis abroad
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-10-23
Author : Sabria S. Jawhar
The recent killing of young Saudi student Abdullah Alkadi is a grim reminder that we live in a dangerous world, whether it is here in Saudi Arabia or abroad. Having...
Asma al-Assad: Rise and fall of the new Syrian woman
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-10-22
Author : Dr. Halla Diyab
In 2001, Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad set out to undertake gender reform. Her predecessor Anisa Makhlouf never appeared in national ceremonies, nor accompanied her husband on his diplomatic visits....
The Kurdish way of fighting ISIS
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-10-22
Author : Octavia Nasr
Images speak volumes. Terrorists of the so-called "Islamic State," or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, know that very well and employ it in their fear-instilling tactics. It is...
Kobani's women are on the front line of more than one battle
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-10-22
Author : Diana Mukkaled
Amid the worry accompanying the siege imposed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters on the Syrian–Kurdish city of Kobani, Arab criticism and discontent surfaced despite the...
A conflicting policy...
Source : Gulf Daily News  
Date : 2014-10-22
Author : Yenus S
The recent battle between the Islamic State (IS) militants and Kurds for the Syrian city of Kobani has put Turkey's foreign policy in the spotlight....
The medium is the message
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2014-10-22
Author : Tariq A. Al-Maeena
Marshall McLuhan, a brilliant yet controversial thinker is regarded by many as the father of mass media and communications. A charismatic individual, McLuhan's acute analysis of the changing face...
Women and IS terrorism
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-10-22
Author : Shamlan Al-Essa
Despite the atrocities committed by the Islamic State and its practice of all forms of violence and heinous terror against humanity in general and women in particular – as this...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
1 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Fri Oct 24, 2014| 29-ذو الحجة-1435هـ
Military vows to protect Kingdom 
Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power shifts toward renewable energy
Shia rebels, Qaeda fight bloody battle in Yemen
Opec needs oil cut of at least 500,000 bpd: Libya official
Iraqi Kurds to send fighters to Kobane
Qatar inflation may be 'highest' in GCC
Iranian human rights lawyer stages protest
Net income ratio for Kuwaitis at 72.1pct: Statistics Bureau
GCC plans changes in school curricula to fight extremism
Oman's first wind power plant to help reduce energy subsidies
Qatar reports second MERS case in 10 days
Gulf markets rally further on solid 3rd quarter results
Saudi remains world's leading UN aid donor
DP World welcomes first vessel to new terminal
35 people killed, 78 others injured in two bombs in Baghdad
UAE set for third largest aviation market by 2018
    Newspaper Editorials
Clever UN move in Gaza?
Emirati sisters' case a shining example of UAE care
More>>  
    Opinions
Re-drawing the map of the Levant
The outstanding questions
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    Reports
Justice in Transition in Yemen
The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for US Policy
More>>  
    Bank Reports
GCC Markets Performance – May 2014
Saudi Arabia: Baseline Macroeconomic Forecast 2014-16
More>>  
    GRC Analysis
Saudi Arabia and the ASEAN Periphery: Cambodia, Myanmar, and Brunei
NATO and the Future of Gulf Security.
Saudi-Vietnam Relations
    GRC Commentary
Price of not heeding Kingdom's advice
On Relations between Rulers and Citizens: The Need for a New Social/Political Contract in the GCC States
Key Issue Facing the Saudi Ruling House.
    GRC Book Review
Beyond Regionalism? Regional Cooperation, Regionalism and Regionalization in the Middle East
India, GCC and the Global Energy Regime: Exploring Interdependence and Outlook for Collaboration.
    GRC Press Release
Gulf Research Center press releases to the media
    GRC Publications
Labor Market Integration in the GCC Countries
Integration Processes in Latin America
GCC’s External Trade Integration: An Assessment
    GRC Newsletters/Bulletins

Enter your email to get the Newsletter
Go
      
Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | About Us |
Weather | Qibla Directions | Hijri Date Conversion Tool
Full Page :total time:1  |   59-- 00 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 59 - 59--en--sess-enreq-en-coming