No one had given Asma al-Assad the title “Iron Woman” before, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was the only one to use it throughout her reign. She truly deserved the title, because of her domestic and foreign policy.
The title may seem to be a loose term for names if it is meant in a positive sense, but what is meant by this title here is something else.
It is known to the Syrians that Asma al-Assad, since the death of the “shadow ruler,” Anisa Makhlouf, wife of Hafez al-Assad, has erased her mother-in-law’s biography with black ink, seized the joints of the state with an iron grip, and controlled the economy to the point of removing Bashar al-Assad himself from the forefront.
Whenever he appeared in public places and wanted to talk about her presence, he would say: “Asmaa and me.” The First Lady's name must be at the forefront of the president's speech to the public in every sentence and every matter he speaks about.
Asma al-Assad was able to control the state with a long-term and precise plan that dealt with all of her opponents, most notably everyone who was seeking refuge with Anisa, whether through lineage, such as “Rami Makhlouf and his father,” or through interests only, and there were many of them, including the Assad family, with its branches and branches.
It seems that, in the recent period, Asmaa, after she took control of her opponents, confiscated their money, removed them from the “economic” arena, and dominated everything, has become the target of a fierce campaign of criticism initiated by people whose interests were harmed, and extended to include some activists who are looking for a peg to comment on. The calamities and disasters occurring in the country away from Assad, and also to clear his name from everything that is happening, and it seems that Asma is the scapegoat.
The ram this time is not small and weak, but rather fiercer and stronger than all the opponents’ imaginations. With its sovereign presence in power, Assad almost seemed to be a shadow of her or a follower at best.
Oppression is the policy of both the powerful and the powerless
Syrian policy has been based on repressing the people since the beginning of the Baath Party taking power and the rule of Assad Sr. Since that time, Syrian history has known nothing but this single language that the regime has dedicated and worked on for more than half a century.
Asma al-Assad did not deviate from this system in treating her opponents, regardless of their status, strength, and status among the people.
Recently, lawyer (and also merchant) Samer Rajab, who is married to one of Assad’s relatives, was arrested for insulting Asmaa on his Facebook page. A conviction has formed among the loyalist crowd – and for purely sectarian, not national, motives – that Asmaa is the one who rules and controls the country's capabilities.
It seems that Samer Rajab did not realize the true power of Asmaa when he insulted her because his personal interests were harmed, and he thought – although some suspicions were sinful – that the Assad family, to which he had his back, was able to protect him from the fangs of silk!
Samer was not alone, as all the criticism from the loyalist segment holds Asma al-Assad responsible for the economic deterioration and the state of hunger sweeping the regime’s areas primarily due to her greed, and because of her old resentment, as she suffered from hatred and marginalization within the family before Anisa’s death.
Some activists have gone on to say explicitly that everything Asma al-Assad is currently doing is an act of revenge, and that her wound has not yet healed, and no one knows how the affairs of the state and its economy will turn out precisely because of this vengeful tendency she has. The conflict moved from the narrow scope of the presidential palace between the president’s mother and his wife to the scope of public life, and showed Asma al-Assad’s ferocity in taking revenge on everyone who was under Anisa’s tent.
One of the forms of this revenge is when Asma al-Assad took over Rami Makhlouf’s entire telecommunications companies, and changed its name to “Emma Tel.”
Choosing the name Emma in particular was not absurd, as it is Asma Al-Akhras’s favorite name and the one she was nicknamed among her friends in London before marriage. Some have linked her name to the name of the heroine of the French writer Flaubert's novel, “Emma Bovary,” whose fame brought down Flaubert himself and exposed him to trial.
Emma's story in the novel may not be similar to the story of the “President” proposed by many and international bodies. But the two characters have many common characteristics, the first of which is “greed, avarice, and love of money, appearance, and fame.”
Scenarios for the fate of Asma al-Assad
Activists on social media wondered what the outcome of this brutal campaign against Asma al-Assad might be. They put forward visions that may seem impossible, but in the context of the chaos existing in Syria and the madness that controls the country and the people, anything can happen. One of them asked: (Can this campaign draw an end to it? If some affected party carries out an assassination, or Bashar himself orchestrates this assassination to silence the members of his sect?)
These scenarios do not come out of nowhere. Throughout history, the fates of women who ruled people in this way were not good fates, and most of them did not die in a natural way.
But it seems that Asmaa is following in the footsteps of Imelda Marcos, who was able to return to the Philippines and obtain many privileges despite all her extravagance and greed and what she did while her husband ruled the Philippines.
As for the fate of Elena, Ceaușescu's wife, she excluded it from her imagination. Although what is happening in Syria is similar to what happened in Romania in terms of oppression and tyranny, and a dominant wife in power. The Roman people sentenced her to death along with her husband.
Will Assad's wife in the future witness a Roman fate? Or will one of the affected parties risk an assassination attempt in which extremist factions are accused? Or will the international system continue the process of crushing the Syrian people and give them every reason to survive?