The PR firms trying to aid Assad's regime
At the very least, it was a case of unfortunate timing.
Vogue magazine invited ridicule and condemnation last year when it printed a glowing profile of the Syrian First Lady in the same month that a violent crackdown on protests in the country began. But the 3,200 fawning words on Bashar al-Assad's wife, Asma, was just one part of a public relations campaign carried out by Western firms to burnish a friendlier image of the Assad family – the extent of which is still coming to light.
It was later revealed that international PR firm Brown Lloyd James agreed a $5,000-per-month contract in November 2010 to help with the photo shoot and interview, which described the British-born Mrs Assad as the "freshest and most magnetic of first ladies".
The Vogue interview, headlined "A Rose in the Desert", was arguably the high point of a public relations blitz designed to make the Assad family appear progressive and accessible.
But the campaign began years earlier, in 2006, with the hiring of UK-based Bell Pottinger. The firm was employed by Mrs Assad to set up a communications office for herself. "Laura Bush had started the first ladies club and she wanted a role in that," said Lord Bell, co-founder of the firm.
Bell Pottinger spent six months setting up the press office before their business together ended.
A few years later, with her press team in full swing, more positive articles appeared about Mrs Assad. Paris Match called her an "element of light in a country full of shadow zones," and French Elle counted her among the best-dressed women in world politics.
Now, after an estimated 10,000 deaths in Syria, the positive press has run dry. Vogue's editor-in-chief Anna Wintour publicly disowned Mrs Assad this weekend.
Duchess of Alba dead: Billionaire Spanish duchess who lived life by her own rules, dies at 88
New York snowstorm: Death toll rises to 10 as residents battle with further snowfall
These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
Chelsea balcony collapse: Two people dead and six injured in London
Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 3 Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
- 4 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 5 Pastafarian former porn star Asia Lemmon allowed to wear colander in driving licence photo
£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...
£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...
Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...