A quick look through the Instagram account of the Syrian presidency reveals that Asma Assad, wife of dictator Bashar Assad, is made out to be a caring humanitarian, a devoted mother and an advocate of women’s rights and education.
In one picture she appears to be helping poor families in a large kitchen facility. In another she is sitting in a circle with what looks like scouts in a field where she is seen looking lovingly at the children around her.
Then again ... the mother of three has been criticized in magazines and newspapers recently for huge shopping sprees and for being nothing more than the putatively caring face of a violent and underhanded regime. In some stories, there are even comments that call for her to be killed or brought to justice, and one even says it hopes that her children get to bury her. There is little compassion for the British-Syrian national in social media.
Meanwhile, should her husband face a war crimes trial, in The Hague perhaps, Britain could find itself in a diplomatic pickle. Asma Assad currently has sanctions barring her from traveling to any EU country -- except for the United Kingdom, where she was born and holds a passport that entitles her to enjoy free entry and abode. So if she is brought to either face a war crimes court or give evidence against her husband, what does the U.K. do?
If the trial is held somewhere like The Hague, the U.K. may be compelled to follow any international instructions that are handed down by the court, but it would appear doubtful that the United Kingdom would allow her to face trial in Syria or travel there to give evidence unless her safety can be assured.
Continue Reading Below
A scenario does exist that could strip Assad of her citizenship. According to a report in London’s Daily Telegraph, the Home Office is in the early stages of examining the possibility of revoking her British citizenship under the 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act, which can allow such a move if it is “conducive to the public good” and doesn’t leave the individual stateless.
By doing this the government could avoid the prospect of appearing to support her in the same way they allowed Gen. Augusto Pinochet to visit Britain while a Spanish judge attempted try him for crimes in Chile.