Michelle Obama, the fashion style icon wife of US President Obama, is to have travel sanctions imposed on her by member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, including Russia, China and SCO associate state Iran.
Mrs Obama’s annual six-figure budget for designer clothes and accessories is seen as an affront to moral decency at a time when her husband is overseeing foreign wars of aggression, mass murder in several territories using aerial drones, and ordering the assassination of individuals such as nuclear scientists in Iran.
The equally fashionista-conscious wives of British and French premiers, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, are also reportedly lined up for sanctions in several Middle East and Central Asian countries owing to these leaders supporting the illegal and murderous US-led NATO bombing campaign on Libya.
By now, the reader will have spotted the above “report” to be a spoof.
However, when it comes to the real world, the European Union is applying such unprecedented measures against the wife of Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad.
“EU slaps Sanctions on Assad’s Wife,” read several newspaper headlines after Europe’s foreign ministers banned British born Asma Assad from traveling to EU states, and ordered the freezing of her personal assets.
Describing the 36-year-old Syrian First Lady as stylish, glamorous, even sexy, the combined lurid portrayal was aimed at presenting Mrs Assad as an insensitive bimbo in the face of her country’s ongoing violence and misery.
Asma Al Assad
Samantha Cameron and Michelle Obama
Carla Bruni, Shimon Peres and Nicolas Sarkozy
The Washington Post called her Syria’s Marie Antoinette, alleging that “while bloodshed continues, she shops for crystal-encrusted shoes”.
Despite the defamatory wording in the mainstream media written as if it were factual, it turns out that the hype about Mrs Assad, is based on “a trove” of emails obtained by the British Guardian newspaper allegedly from the private correspondence of the Assad family. Even the Guardian puts in a disclaimer about the veracity of the emails, which it says were supplied by “Syrian oppositionists”. There is more than a fair chance that the emails are bogus and forged by intelligence groups well-versed in the black arts of slander, such as MI6.
Suspicions are raised even further when such banal, personal matters such as a woman’s alleged internet shopping habits become the subject of foreign ministerial diplomacy.
British-born Mrs Assad is reputed to have splurged more than €40,000 on household and fashion items. Following the EU sanctions, which came into effect at the weekend, British foreign minister William Hague said: “It’s a sign of the determination of all the nations of the European Union and of the European Union as a whole to intensify the pressure, the diplomatic and economic stranglehold on this regime.”
Meanwhile, France’s foreign affairs minister Alain Juppé commented: “We had a certain number of indications — I am sure it has not escaped you — how the wife of president Assad uses her money. It is perhaps this that pushed us to toughen the sanctions.” Juppé’s concern with financial probity is particularly rich given that he was convicted in 2004 by a French court of “abusing public funds” and sentenced to an 18-month suspended jail term.
When one newspaper’s highlighting of a dodgy dossier of emails is regurgitated by all and sundry in the mainstream media, including so-called quality titles, and when that dodgy dossier forms the basis for EU ministerial sanctions, then there is the unmistakable whiff of a psy-ops job.
This is all the more so perceptible given that the Western governments and the slavish mainstream media have spent the most part of a year grossly distorting the reality of violence and conflict in Syria, with a view to destabilizing the alliance between Damascus and Tehran. President Bashar Al-Assad has been relentlessly accused of “butchering” his own people, despite growing evidence that his government’s forces are more accurately acting to protect the civilian population from terrorist groups armed and directed by the US, Britain, France, Israel, Turkey and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Gulf monarchies.
The Western campaign of demonizing the government of Syria has now been extended somewhat ludicrously to portraying Mrs Assad as a “callous shopaholic” who must be banned from the High Streets of all decent, law-abiding civilizations.
The irony is that the derisory cynical move by the European Union should actually be applied against known war criminals. There is ample evidence to convict past and present American and European leaders of war crimes and crimes against humanity regarding military aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and ongoing towards Iran.
On the basis of legal and criminal facts, sanctions against Michelle Obama, Samantha Cameron and Carla Bruni make far greater sense.
Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent