This violence in Syria is not new. The introduction of chemical weapons, despite the U.S. Administration’s bravado over their declared “red line” being crossed does not make this a new crisis. In fact, just last night I was going through my laptop hard drive to find a piece I had written in April of last year. My Arabic tutor had given me an article in Arabic about the ambassadors’ wives that urged Asma al-Assad to take a stand for peace in Syria. In my article, I discussed the impact it could have on the place of women in the Arab world as well as the humanitarian cause if Asma, a well-educated woman who formerly worked in investment banking, were to stand up and fight for a more peaceful world.
Then, out of curiosity, I wondered, “What is Asma al-Assad doing now? Is she locked away in fear?” What I found was disheartening. Reports suggest that the dictator’s wife has, indeed, been in a bomb-proof bunker, but instead of cowering in fear, she has focused on an obsession with her looks and a shopping spree. There is something sad and desperate in this, true. It has the signs, at least to an outward observer, of someone who feels trapped, and is indulging in the few things she found comforting as her world ends. It’s a painful thought, though it still does not ease the disappointment that this woman did not stand up for herself and seize hold of her situation, or at least at any point express sorrow for the women and children being maimed and killed during this civil war.