A Rose in the Desert

Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement. Paris Match calls her “the element of light in a country full of shadow zones.” She is the first lady of Syria.

Queen Rania’s got competition! Syria hasn’t been declared good guys, though they might still, and aren’t altermondialiste chic either. She really is astonishingly beautiful, which I guess trumped everything else.

Is the reporter in on the joke here?

Two hundred children dressed variously as elves, reindeers, or candy canes share the stage with members of the national orchestra, who are done up as elves. The show becomes a full-on songfest, with the elves and reindeer and candy canes giving their all to “Hallelujah” and “Joy to the World.” The carols slide into a more serpentine rhythm, an Arabic rap group takes over, and then it’s back to Broadway mode. The president whispers, “All of these styles belong to our culture. This is how you fight extremism—through art.” […]
“This is the diversity you want to see in the Middle East,” says the president, ringing his bell. “This is how you can have peace!”

Via Foreign Policy. I was a little surprised by the reaction in FP’s comments – do the kind of people who fall for this read FP? – til it struck me they’re likely on the Syrian government’s payroll.

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