Tuesday, October 11, 2011

At home with the Assads: Syria's ruthless ruling family...

It is evening, and in a large house in a leafy, upmarket district of Damascus, a trio of siblings have gathered in the home of their mother, Anisa Makhlouf al-Assad, the reclusive former first lady of Syria. Along with her son Bashar, the country's current president, his younger brother Maher, commander of the brutal Fourth Division, and their formidable older sister, Bushra, she pores over the latest reports from officials across the country, as Bushra's husband, Asef Shawkat, the president's chief of staff and former military intelligence chief, looks on.

How many people came out on the protests? What did they chant? How many were killed? The family debate, perhaps, over what more can be done to put down the protests, and argue over what reforms to offer, or where next to direct the extensive security forces at their disposal. The subtext to the gathering is clear: under no circumstances will they release their grasp on the country they have ruled for more than four decades.


"It's a mafia; the family rules as a family," says someone who was formerly allowed glimpses into the Assad regime's inner sanctum. "No one knows the exact workings, but they are closing ranks more and more."

Despite the family's obsessive secrecy, tantalising clues to their relationships and often dysfunctional workings can be gleaned from talking to former associates, embassy officials, biographers and diplomatic correspondence, including cables released by WikiLeaks. They paint a picture of a once-humble family that rose, ruthlessly, to rule Syria with a combination of megalomania and arrogance, corrupted by power and paranoia. Full story...

Don't miss:
  1. Syria: another child tortured and killed by Assad regime... 
  2. Syrian soldiers shoot to "finish off" wounded man. 
  3. Syrian security forces throw dead bodies into river (Very graphic) 
  4. Massacre in Syria as tanks attack Hama...(graphic video) 
  5. Syrian crackdown leaves at least 121 people dead. Where's the outrage? 
  6. This is what's happening in Syria (WARNING. Extremely graphic)    
  7. Hamza Ali al-Khateeb,13, shot and had genitals removed before being killed ... 
  8. 14-year-old boy in Bahrain shot and killed by police...  

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