In rare interview, Syrian president’s wife tells Russia 24: ‘I’ve been here since the beginning and I never thought of being anywhere else’
Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad, has said that she rejected offers of asylum from opponents of her husband, Bashar, in her first interview in several years.
“I’ve been here since the beginning and I never thought of being anywhere else at all,” the the former investment banker told the Russian state-backed television channel Russia 24.
“Yes, I was offered the opportunity to leave Syria or rather to run from Syria. These offers included guarantees of safety and protection for my children and even financial security. It doesn’t take a genius to know what these people were really after. It was a deliberate attempt to shatter people’s confidence in their president.”
Asma al-Assad, 41, a dual British-Syrian national who was born and grew up in London, has rarely granted press interviews in recent years as the country descended into torment and civil war.
Her last major media appearance was a glowing 2011 profile in Vogue, titled A Rose in the Desert, that praised the Assad family as “wildly democratic” and lauded their reforms in Syria, before the magazine took down the article and erased its online presence as the violence worsened.
The daughter of a former diplomat and a Syrian Harley Street cardiologist, she was raised as a secular Muslim and spoke Arabic at home, but attended a Church of England school in west London, where fellow pupils knew her as Emma. After the private Queen’s College girl’s school in Marylebone and King’s College London, where she studied computer science, she embarked on a brief career as a banker with JP Morgan in London and New York.
She married Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, in December 2000 and has stood alongside him as hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict. Her public role in recent months has centred around comforting the families of soldiers who were killed battling the insurgency. She was personally sanctioned by the European Union.
Her interview with Russia 24 comes as Assad’s forces are on the front foot as a result of the Kremlin’s intervention in the war in defense of Assad.
Source: The Guardian
Also see: A Rose in the Desert: Asma Al-Assad, Lady Diana of the Middle East