I have been able to speak to a co-worker of Bashar al-Assad. Assad is a doctor by trade and spent time working in London. A nurse who worked with him routinely has agreed to have her memories and thoughts made public on the condition of anonymity.
“In 1992 I had just qualified as a nurse and was working at the Western Eye Hospital in London when I first met Bashar. He was very quiet and polite with the staff which to be honest was quite unusual. Many Middle Eastern doctors were quite brusque in the way they addressed the female members of staff. He had a very ready smile and never mentioned his connection to the then President of Syria, his father.
It was another doctor who brought that up, it was quite ugly. He was quite blunt about his views on the first family and their Alawite background. Most of us had no idea what he was talking about, but Bashar explained, very calmly, the differences between Sunni and Shiite muslims, and where the Alawites fitted into the picture. I remember it well as the second doctor was getting very heated up. The manager was called, and things calmed down quickly after that.
He worked as an ophthalmic surgeon and was very good. Calm at the operating table and had a wonderful manner with the patients. His English was exemplary, and he spoke with every patient just before surgery to reassure them all would be well.
As he settled in, and we got to know him better, he made it quite clear he had no interests in politics or the military. He often said how pleased he was that he was the youngest brother and that he would not be called upon to replace his father as the Syrian President. His brother was high up in the military. Bashar had said that there were no elections, that because his brother was the president’s son he got the job. There was no vote, nothing, he was just given the post.
He was quite friendly with one of the technicians that worked on the team. He asked outright if medicine had allowed Bashar to escape the allocation of a role he would not have enjoyed, but equally, would not have had a choice about. He nodded and said that it was difficult to leave everything you have known behind but sometimes you had to do what you knew was right for you.
During the time I knew him I met a few of his friends. We ribbed him constantly and threatened to tell his dad that he had been out with a very pretty woman the night before. He would open his eyes wide and draw his forefinger across his throat before laughing. He knew damn well nobody on the team would do anything of the kind. Some of his closer friends said he was trying to work his way through the English alphabet chalking up a woman for each letter. There was a nephew or cousin or some such relation of the Saudi Royals also working as a doctor at the time, and we would say the same to him though we never meant it.
A short while before he left the UK to go to his brothers funeral his demeanor changed. He had been told that his family were looking for brides for him. There had been many heated discussions about the suitability of some of the women his family had chosen. He would look at the photographs and read the details and nod his head. This continued for some time before they started sending him details of British women of Syrian decent.
Accompanied meetings would be set up, and afterwards we would ask him how the ‘dates’ went. He would laugh and say he had managed to put her off him by various means…none of which he ever discussed.
One of these dates was with a woman called Asma, he was not impressed but this one would not be so easily put off. She was feisty, and there was no doubt when she arrived unaccompanied at the hospital one day that she had decided they would be married. I’m not sure if it is the same Asma he did eventually marry.
She was very forceful, full of herself and to be honest I disliked her on sight. Very bossy and refusing to speak English even though she was born here. Bashar commented that she would get on well with his mother and sisters who were apparently cut from the same cloth.
She called all the time, and we would say he was in the middle of a very delicate procedure and could not be called away, he was working late, he was in a meeting, whatever we could think of at the time. Half the time he would be having dinner with a far nicer woman at what he started to refer to as ‘safe houses’
About two years after he arrived his brother was killed in a car accident. He didn’t want to go to the funeral, well he did, to pay his respects to his brother, but he was convinced he would not be allowed to return to the UK. He was right.
Letters received by some staff members were passed around. He was told he had to replace his brother, doing what I can’t honestly remember. He had to join the military and was totally miserable about it. He was not practicing medicine anymore and missed it greatly. He said that they were promoting him almost every month even though he had no experience.
With his brother gone he was very worried he would inherit the role of president when his father died, it was a job he really didn’t want.
I left the hospital about four months after Bashar did. I understand he communicated with one or two people for some time before the letters stopped, but I have no idea what was discussed.
It’s odd watching the news and seeing all that’s happening in Syria, it doesn’t equate to the Bashar al-Assad I knew. There are many people that worked with him that I’m pretty sure feel the same way.”
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Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!