Despite the ambitions she expressed for liberalising Syria before the uprising, Mrs Assad, 36, displays no misgivings about the regime’s bloody crackdown, which has accounted for most of the estimated 8,000 lives lost.
Her correspondence with Bashar al-Assad, his aides, friends and family portray her as highly supportive of her husband.
In an email to a family friend on Jan 10, she praised a speech the president gave for conveying a sense of being “very strong, no more messing around”.
“As for listening – I am the REAL dictator, he has no choice …” she wrote on Dec 14. Her use of the word in reference to her husband suggests she understands how others regard him.
It will not be helpful to Mr Assad, who has made a show of passing reforms since protests against his rule broke out.
Mrs Assad comes across as comfortable with the middle class English world in which she grew up as the daughter of a cardiologist in Acton.