What do you do when you are in the midst of a brutal civil war where the international community is arming your rebel opponents?
Join Instagram, of course.
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad joined the social media network to provide a glimpse into the personal life of the embattled leader. Images so far feature him walking amid his supporters and doing serious work behind his presidential desk.
His wife Asma al-Assad also appears in photographs that show the softer side of the regime. She can be seen in one photo (above left) wiping the tears away from a young boy.
Another picture features the president holding the bloodied hand of a severely injured man in the hospital. Viewers to the images will get the sense of a well loved leader going about life as normal. He holds popular rallies and visits with important leaders.
Pictures featuring Asma are less political. They try to show that life is not really disrupted. She takes a break from hanging out with young Syrians to give a thumbs up sign and helps children with their painting project.
Viewers get a glimpse into the war through pictures of injured at the hospital and humanitarian work done by Bashar and Asma, but the tone of the images so far is one of relative normalcy.
Meanwhile, the fighting continues in Syria. Observers accuse the government of using the chemical weapon sarin on a small scale. The UN estimates that 100,000 people have died during the civil. More than 1.85 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries to seek refuge.
The UN and other humanitarian organizations are mounting a response to the needs of the refugees, but underfunding is leading to some significant challenges for the effort. Persistent requests to access people in Syria affected by the violence proceed in fits and bursts of setbacks and gains.
Differences between the United States and Russia over how to address the problem in Syria have proved to be a major roadblock to action. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said immediate action is needed, last week. He referenced the planned joint peace conference led by the US and Russia.
“Military and violent actions must be stopped by all the parties and it is thus imperative to have a peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible, as initiated by Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov,” said Ban.
In the world of Instagram the Assad family continues on with regular life, while thousands die each month and the humanitarian community tries to figure out how to respond to a continuously growing problem.