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
 
Should the GCC still be concerned about Iran's regional ambitions?
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-04-18
Author : Majid Rafizadeh
A recent debate concentrated on the argument that the Gulf Cooperation Council should push for more efforts to ensure that a final nuclear deal is reached between Iran and the...
Between the 'hammer attack' and the anvil of British press
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-04-18
Author : Faisal J. Abbas
It was interesting to observe how the British media dealt with last week's "hammer attack" against three Emirati women at a Central London hotel. Often a point of reference to many...
Putin's Next Hunting Ground
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-04-18
Author : Amir Taheri
Having flexed his muscles in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to mark out the Caspian Basin as another zone of influence for Moscow. Next week, foreign ministers of...
Expat ownership
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-04-18
Author : Muna Al-Fuzai
The Cabinet has approved expatriates to own properties in Kuwait, including apartments, houses and lands. This decision came as usual without clarification or an official statement on how, when and...
They Are Expatriates – Not Slaves
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-04-18
Author : Talal Al-Ghannam
Good day to my honorable readers. In this article I will shed light on many problems facing our dear brothers and sisters living with us in Kuwait who are here...
Fighting youth violence
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-04-17
Author : Labeed Abdal
The Cabinet recently launched efforts to fight violence among young people in Kuwait through its permanent committee for youth affairs and the Ministry of Youth Affairs, which was founded last...
Baroness Nicholson and Iraq
Source : The Counter Punch  
Date : 2014-04-17
Author : Robert Cole
Each year, a small charity manages to ensure 700,000 people in Iraq are seen by a qualified doctor. Its medical staff deliver almost 100,000 vaccinations, and it helps educate 35,000...
The Ayatollahs' Overlooked Anti-WMD Fatwas
Source : The Future of Freedom Foundation  
Date : 2014-04-17
Author : Sheldon Richman
When the Obama administration refused to grant a visa to Iran’s designated ambassador to the United Nations, Hamid Aboutalebi, it was continuing a long-running hostile U.S. policy toward the Islamic...
Resolving the Gulf crisis
Source : Aljazeera.com  
Date : 2014-04-17
Author : Mansour Almarzoqi Albogami
In March, in an unprecedented move, three Arab Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain) withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar. This move reflected a break with the...
Hezbollah softens approach in Lebanon, hardens stance in Syria
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-04-17
Author : Joyce Karam
Hezbollah, the armed Lebanese party, is trying to find a balance between its large scale military involvement in the Syrian conflict and containing its repercussions inside Lebanon. The strategy has...
The King and the Press...
Source : Gulf Daily News  
Date : 2014-04-17
Author : Anwar Abdulrahman
Despite his busy schedule while visiting Kazakhstan, His Majesty was very keen to engage with members of Bahrain's national Press....
Mr. Abuser, beat a retreat!
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-04-17
Author : Sabria S. Jawhar
Saudi Arabia has taken another step to curb domestic violence against women by implementing a tough law that fines wife-beaters up to SR 50,000 and hands down jail sentence if...
History may well judge Russia's leaders harshly
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-04-17
Author : Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi
Does history repeat itself? Are we seeing the signs of a new Cold War developing from the polarization between the US and Russia, the heir of the collapsed Soviet Union?...
SMEs versus small overseas enterprises
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-04-17
Author : Khalil Hanware
The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) issue in the Kingdom has been debated heavily in the last few years....
Don't celebrate Assad's victory too soon
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-04-16
Author : Abdulrahman al-Rashed
It's true that if Iran hadn't taken a strategic decision to save Bashar al-Assad's regime, the latter would not have even lasted until the New Year of 2013. If Iran...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
1 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Sat Apr 19, 2014| 18-جماد ثاني-1435هـ
GCC in historic deal to end internal divide
SABIC keen to raise Asia investments
UN envoy urges Syria's warring sides to save Homs
UAE world's first country to launch
 IPM mobile
 application
Iran in compliance with nuclear freeze: UN watchdog
Remittance flow set to surge 7.8% to $ 436 billion in 2014
Bahrain's King Hamad praises 
GCC leaders
Qatar banks' loan book growth 'flat in March'
Militants kill 30 in Iraq attacks
Iran oil exports fall for first time in five months
Kuwait MP Send bedoons to desert camp
Saudi market gains strength; Qatar shares touch 8-year high
Abu Dhabi CP gets call from Chuck Hagel
Qatar cement demand to double in 3 years: Arqaam
MERS-camel link confirmed
Experts to probe energy sector at major forum
`
    Newspaper Editorials
Bahraini man dies after being shot by police
Deal fails to end Ukraine uncertainty
More>>  
    Opinions
Between the 'hammer attack' and the anvil of British press
Putin's Next Hunting Ground
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    Reports
The Legal Classification of the Armed Conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya
More>>  
    Bank Reports
Weekly Economic Briefing - Riyad Capital
Saudi Inflation Report - 3rd Quarter of 2013
More>>  
    GRC Analysis
Challenging Times for Saudi Foreign Policy
Saudi-Thai Relations
Saudi-Singapore Relations
    GRC Commentary
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
The EU and the GCC in Global Governance: Limitations and Future Potential
Saudi Arabia’s Legal Framework of Migration
Kuwait’s Legal Framework of Migration
    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:0  |   24-- 24 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 24 - 24--en--sess-enreq-en-coming