By Barry Rubin
The following email was recently received by the White House:
Dear President Obama:
My name is Bashar al-Assad. Not long ago my father died and left me an entire country in his will. It is a very valuable property but I am trying to market it internationally. If you would be willing to help I can promise that you will be richly rewarded.
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I really want to develop good commercial relations with the West and get rid of my troublesome ally, Iran. In addition, I want to make peace with Israel and stop supporting terrorism. I would even like to make reforms in my country so that it can be a peaceful and happy democracy.
But I need your help. Please send me a U.S. ambassador without preconditions; ignore my backing for killing your troops in Iraq; overlook my backing for Hamas and Hizballah in killing Israelis; forget about my terrorism in Lebanon, including the murder of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri; shove into the memory hole my massive daily production of anti-American propaganda; have your officials including the secretary of state say nice things about me at the precise moment that I’m shooting down demonstrators and torturing dissidents; and send me people like Senator John Kerry who will believe everything I tell them.
If you do this and one other thing, we can be great friends and I’m willing to give you a lot of policy support; break with Tehran; and be a force for peace, love, and harmony in the Middle East.
That one other thing is so minor it’s hardly worth mentioning. OK. Here it is:
Send $5 billion in small-denomination currency to PO Box 1970, Secret Police Station, Damascus, Syria. When the money is received, I will deliver all the promised gifts to you and throw in a free eye exam for you and Michelle.
Don’t hesitate as this is a limited-time offer.
Bashar al-Assad, ophthalmologist, Internet fan, political reformer, former Londoner (Go Chelsea!), and president of Syria.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.