MP calls for stripping British-born Asma Assad’s citizenship

The wife of the Syrian President, Asma Assad. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2017
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MP calls for stripping British-born Asma Assad’s citizenship

JEDDAH: British MPs are calling for the British-born Syrian First Lady, Asma Assad, to be stripped of her British citizenship following the information of her involvement in the Syrian regime’s propaganda.
“The time has come where we go after (President) Assad in every which way, including people like Mrs. Assad, who is very much part of the propaganda machine that is committing war crimes,” said Nadhim Zahawi, a Conservative MP who sits on the Commons foreign affairs committee.
“The First Lady of Syria has acted, not as a private citizen, but as a spokesperson for the Syrian presidency,” Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Tom Brake said in a statement.
“This is a barbarous regime, yet Asma Assad has continued to use her international profile to defend it, even after the chemical weapons atrocity.”
Some official social media accounts under Asma Assad’s name are used to promote her husband, praise the Syrian regime and attack the West for spreading “lies.”
Bashar Assad’s wife, 41, is active on several social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and Telegram with a total of more than 500,000 followers.
Assad, whose posts mostly revolve around pictures of her with children and elderly Syrian women, shared on her Instagram account last week a statement slamming the American airstrikes on Syrian airbase and questioning the authenticity of the Syrian chemical gas attack, which targeted the town of Idlib on the April 4.
“The presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic affirms that what America has done is an irresponsible act that only reflects a short-sightedness, a narrow horizon, a political and military blindness to reality and a naive pursuit of a frenzied false propaganda campaign,” Assad’s Instagram post reads.
On April 4, when Khan Sheikhun was hit with chemical weapons, Assad’s Facebook page shared a picture of Syria’s First Lady with a smile on her relaxed face with a caption: “Because the reports on our page are increasing, and because our posts disturb them, we are posting and will continue posting. Their reports are small compared to the number of our fans.”
Assad, who is a former JP Morgan banker, is a dual Syrian-British citizen.
Social media users reacted to the MP proposal differently – some were strongly against the action, some opposed the MP’s step, while others saw no useful outcome.
“Asma Assad, a mass murder’s enabler was enabled by our liberal press,” said Tom Quiner commenting on an article by Vogue ‘Asma Assad: A Rose in the Desert.’
“If proven, then she is in a regime that has committed at least one war crime. Remain a citizen of a free world country? I don’t think so,” John Lott said.
Another Twitter user wondered what benefit would such an action bring to the table saying that Asma is just a very small fish in this bloody ocean. “What will it change on the ground?”
Crocusville thought the suggestion was spiteful, vindictive and counterproductive.
One user welcomed the idea and wished everyone a “Happy Easter” on the occasion.
An Arab user wished that the suggestion is not just mere words, but actions should follow.
Meanwhile, an opposing point of view stressed, “only powerless and humiliated nations go for women to punish men.”
Diana Moukalled, a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media, wrote in Arab News on April 4 in her commentary that “both Western decision-makers and media professionals have fallen into a trap when it comes to Asma Assad’s image.”
Since January 2013, under S.40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, 37 individuals have been deprived of their British citizenship on the grounds that it was either conducive to the public good to do so, or that the individual concerned obtained their British citizenship by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of material fact, according to GOV.UK.


Trump to honor Macron, his unlikely French friend

Updated 29 sec ago
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Trump to honor Macron, his unlikely French friend

PARIS: They talk regularly, have shared memorable handshakes and supposedly have an “unbreakable” friendship. When US President Donald Trump and France’s Emmanuel Macron meet next week, there will be more back-slapping — but also major differences.
The Trump-Macron relationship has been one of the few stable elements in recent American foreign policy, with the French leader emerging as the privileged European partner for the White House.
While Trump’s relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel have often been tetchy and he has clashed publicly with British Prime Minister Theresa May, the mercurial US leader has been consistently friendly with France’s 40-year-old centrist.
Their warm ties will be on display from Monday when Macron becomes the first foreign visitor during Trump’s term to be honored with a state visit, nine months after Trump was guest of honor during France’s national day on July 14 last year.
“The visit comes at a time of extremely close relations between France and the United States with regular and intense exchanges between the two presidents,” an aide to Macron told reporters this week.
The aim of the trip is to “continue and reinforce this dynamic,” he added.
Although their political background, age and personal lives are sharply different, the two men have bonded over their role as outsiders who outwitted their established political rivals to gain power.
“The friendship between our two nations and ourselves is unbreakable,” Trump told Macron during his trip to Paris last July, which ended with their famous 25-second-long handshake.
They have since worked closely on the fight against the Daesh group in Iraq and Syria and coordinated Western strikes on Syrian regime chemical weapons installations last weekend.
But though they have found common ground on military matters, the list of subjects where they do not see eye-to-eye is long — from climate change and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to the role of the European Union and trade.
Furthermore, Macron never misses an opportunity to condemn the forces of right-wing nationalism and populism — which brought Trump to power — and did so again last week during a speech to the European Parliament.
“Everybody has been asking the same question: why is Macron getting along with Trump?” said Celin Belin, a former French diplomat working as a fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington.
“The question is also why does Trump like Macron? I think he enjoys the respect Macron provides and he respects Macron’s power.”
Belin believes Trump has also deliberately picked a favorite in the European Union “and he has picked France because it’s strong militarily and not an economic threat, which is the opposite of Germany.”
French diplomats privately concede that the main question for Macron is whether his proximity to the US unilateralist will lead to results, either in convincing the United States to take into account its EU allies or mitigating the fallout from Trump’s decisions.
During the trip to Washington, Macron will have repeated opportunities to try to influence his American partner starting with a dinner at Mount Vernon, the home of the first US president George Washington, along with their wives Brigitte and Melania on Monday night.
Macron will also visit the State Department, take part in a state dinner at the White House and demonstrate his English-language skills — a rarity for a French president — in an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
Topping the agenda will be the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump is threatening to pull out of against the wishes of European nations, and US trade tariffs on steel and aluminum which could hit EU exports.
Trump is set to announce a final decision on the Iran deal and whether to prolong an exemption on EU metals imports in the first few weeks of May.
“We hope that the visit will be useful in convincing and in advancing things in the right direction,” Macron’s adviser said on condition of anonymity, but he warned: “You shouldn’t expect a diplomatic breakthrough.”
Other issues set to be discussed include US talks with North Korea and relations with Russia following the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Syrian civil war.