Saturday

30th Jul 2016

EU ambassadors' wives in YouTube diplomacy on Syria

Wives of the British and German ambassadors to the UN have launched a graphic and personal appeal to Syria's first lady to stop the killing of children.

Huberta von Voss Wittig and Sheila Lyall Grant published a video on YouTube on Monday (16 April) which shows pictures of dead Syrian children alongside images of the 36-year-old and British-born Asma Assad in glamourous make-up and clothes.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Asma Assad was called a 'rose in the desert' by Vogue magazine last year (Photo: YouTube.com)

The voiceover accompanying the clip says: "Asma, when you kiss your own children goodnight another mother will find the place next to her empty."

The video and accompanying online petition got around 25,000 clicks and 3,700 signatures by Wednesday morning.

It comes after EU foreign ministers last month put Asma center stage by imposing sanctions on the president's wife. Some commentators, such as Robert Fisk, the veteran Middle East correspondent for British daily The Independent, believe she has used what influence she has to try to mitigate violence.

But other experts, such as Robert Baer, a former CIA officer who now writes for Time magazine, say the Western spotlight on Asma is designed to distract attention from its unwillingness to take real action.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton told MEPs in Brussels on Tuesday that the bloc is ready to impose more sanctions and to provide helicopters and communications equipment for a UN monitoring mission. French foreign minister Alain Juppe told press in Paris that EU sanctions have already halved Syria's currency reserves to an estimated $8 billion.

There is still no talk of freezing Syrian wire transfers in the so-called Swift system operated out of Brussels, as with Iran, however. The EU and US are also ruling out arming rebels or imposing a no-fly zone, as in Libya.

There are six UN monitors in Damascus so far, amid reports that the ceasefire is being widely flouted. Another 30 are to arrive shortly if Syria agrees, and 220 more to follow to cover a country bigger than half the size of France.

Russia - Syria's main ally and arms supplier - has formally backed the UN initiative.

But its intelligence services - which have a monopoly on outside information on what is happening in the country - are telling Western security services that the opposition is also guilty of mass-scale atrocities.

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday stirred controversy by saying that "outside powers" - alluding to Syria's regional enemies Qatar and Saudi Arabia - want the UN mission to "fail" and "are doing a lot to see to it that this ... comes true."

Lavrov's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, also highlighted that the original chief of the UN monitoring team - Norwegian general Robert Mood - has quit and gone back home without giving any public explanation. He is "sort of fleeing his position in the middle of action" the Russian diplomat said.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey's Democracy
  3. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  4. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  6. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  7. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  8. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  11. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  12. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children

Latest News

  1. EU encouraged car industry to cheat, French report says
  2. Terrorism and migration top EU public's concern
  3. Spain's Rajoy warns of minority rule
  4. Car lobby complained about emissions tampering by others
  5. Critical IMF report heralds new Greek bailout battle
  6. EU free movement must be curbed, UK says
  7. EU political pressure alone cannot save the rule of law
  8. Merkel: Attacks won't change refugee policy