EU Shopping Sanctions for Asmaa al-Assad
The European Union states are set to impose a shopping and travel ban on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife Asmaa this week.
Europe's mighty blow against tyranny came after Asmaa al-Assad became the focus of intense media attention last week when leaked emails revealed extravagant purchases under alias names during her husband's bloody ongoing crackdown on dissent.
More than 3,000 emails from the private accounts of the ruling couple were passed by opposition activists to numerous media outlets.
The European Union had previously responded to Syria’s violence with a broad range of sanctions, which include a ban on Syrian oil imports to Europe and measures against the Syrian central bank and other companies and state institutions.
Those sanctions did not stop Asmaa from extravagant online shopping sprees in which she used an alias and used personal friends and friendly shipping companies as proxies to collect items and receive deliveries.
On Friday, the European bloc is expected to take new steps to bring Asmaa's shopping extravaganza to a screeching halt. EU foreign ministers are set to agree on a new round of measures, which will include asset freezes and travel bans in European countries against 12 people - including Asmaa.
“The text (of sanctions) has gone through,” one EU diplomat told Al-Arabiya. The diplomat confirmed Asmaa was on the list and that her European shopping days were coming to an end.
Asmaa, a British-born former investment banker who once sought to cultivate an image of a woman inspired by Western values, has become a hate figure for many Syrians.
She has stood by her husband during a year-long crackdown on the popular unrest in which the United Nations says at least 8,000 people have been killed.
However, despite the seemingly normal life of the First Couple under the ongoing crisis, the leaked emails showed that the First Lady is growing concerned.
She has purchased numerous bullet proof vests, and made contact with a fashion-designing company to discuss lining normal clothes with bullet-proof material. She later chose some of these designs and emailed them to her husband for his approval.
For his part, President Assad’s inbox revealed his own fondness for purchasing electronics and mobile applications – and for Harry Potter.