By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday March 16, 2012
Shopping amid a massacre
A cache of e-mails leaked to CNN is giving extraordinary insight into the life of Syria’s first family during the regime’s move to crush a now-year-long civilian uprising.
The e-mails were obtained by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” from a source in the region after the e-mail accounts were hacked. They appear to shed light on a family often occupied with YouTube videos and shopping while the brutal crackdown continued, and they also apparently reveal some of Iran’s influence over Syria’s president.
Just before Bashar al-Assad delivered a speech January 10, an aide apparently e-mailed him, saying a political adviser to the Iranian ambassador was encouraging al-Assad to use “strong and violent” language.
In that speech, al-Assad then promised to strike the opposition with an “iron fist.”
There are also e-mails from a man named Hosein Mortada, who — according to his Facebook page — is the Damascus bureau chief for two Iranian news networks. Mortada twice offers advice to the president’s aide, who passes it on to al-Assad.
On Christmas Eve, Mortada apparently wrote to an al-Assad aide that al Qaeda should not be blamed for a recent attack.
“I even received calls from Iran and Hezbollah, being the director of several Iranian and Lebanese channels, and they advised me NOT to even mention al Qaeda being behind the incident … because this would be a serious tactical media error,” Mortada wrote, according to the e-mail. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)