Despite an extended revolution against his regime leading up to a bloodbath, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seems to be relaxed and apparently in a joking mood about bringing in political reforms to his country.
The trove of emails leaked from the personal accounts of Assad and his British-born wife Asma shows that the President had taken advice from Iran on countering the uprising with violent crackdown, and that his family remains insulated from revolution which many fear may soon turn into a civil war.
In one of the estimated 3,000 emails leaked by the British newspaper The Guardian, obtained through an unnamed Syrian opposition member, Assad and his family were urged to seek political asylum in Qatar's capital Doha by the daughter of the Emir of Qatar. However, Assad wished to stay in power and suppress the revolution using violent means.
The email allegedly sent by Mayassa al-Thani, daughter of Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, to Asma indicated that the government of Qatar- which has been supportive of Assad - was willing to provide asylum.
I only pray that you will convince the president to take this as an opportunity to exit without having to face charges, al-Thani wrote to Asma on Jan. 30. Looking at the tide of history and the escalation of recent events - we've seen two results - leaders stepping down and getting political asylum or leaders being brutally attacked. I honestly think that this is a good opportunity to leave and re-start a normal life.
I am sure you have many places to turn to, including Doha, the email added.
The email sent by the political advisor for the Iranian ambassador, who served as a Assad's consultant for the speech he delivered in December, urged Assad to use violent language to show power.
I believe the language must be powerful and violent because the people need to see a powerful president defending the country and to show appreciation for support from friendly states, the adviser wrote. The Iranian consultant also asked Assad to leak more information related to our military capability to convince the public that it could withstand a military challenge.
The emails showed Assad joking to his wife that the reform demands of the Syrian rebels are rubbish.
In an email sent in July when his wife said she would be free by 5 p.m., the President said: This is the best reform any country can have that u told me where will you be. We are going to adopt it instead of the rubbish laws of parties, elections, media....
Some emails also showed Assad sidestepping the U.S. sanctions against him by employing a third party with a U.S. address to facilitate the purchase of music and apps from Apple's online music store iTunes.
Asma's emails showed her arranging for the purchase of an Armani lamp from Harrods, London, necklaces from Paris and luxurious furniture to be sent to Damascus.
Though Asma sounded tense in some emails about the pressure from the international community for her husband to step-down, she wrote in a late-December email: If we are strong together, we will overcome this together ... I love you...
In essence, Assad's emails have ruled out the possibility of him voluntarily stepping down despite high-pressure in a crisis environment. Instead, he calls for tightening the security grip in Homs to be in control of all public spaces every evening.