Posted on 03 September 2012.
Assad’s chocolate-covered Eurotrip ends in his capture
The Syrian conflict ended yesterday after the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, and his wife, Amir al-Assad, were captured last week in the small German town of Steinheim.
Assad and Asma returned to Syria yesterday, after German interrogators got Assad to spill the details behind his surprise presence in Germany (with the help of some German beer).
Assad’s decision to secretly visit Germany began over a month ago as a direct result of the dwindling supply of his favorite food: the German Chocolate Truffle.
His wife, Amir, confirmed in an interview with Deutschewelle that, “the truffles are his one true weakness. He eats about three dozen per day. It’s terrible; there’s no room in the refrigerator for anything else.”
The Assad family used to receive a weekly shipment of chocolate truffles until the European Union imposed its luxury goods embargo on Syria on 17 June 2012. The list of banned goods includes truffles, along with Italian shoes, wines exceeding $3 sales price, yachts exceeding 285,000 square feet, cars exceeding 500g leather seat mass, small Greek islands, large Greek islands, The Settlers of Catan®, tapas, glaciers, the Mona Lisa, and Lego.
Just weeks after the luxury goods embargo was implemented, Assad’s chocolately truffle supply was completely exhausted. Assad then assembled a team of his most loyal followers (his wife) and, armed with several copies of Lonely Planet, set out to hunt the chocolate delicacies in the land of origin: Germany.
While the truffles were unquestionably priority number-one, Assad and Amir made an effort to pick up other luxury European items along the way. In a stop in Norway, a security camera captured blurry footage of the two in Oslo’s shopping center. They were apparently fooling vending machines with a 50kg burlap sack full of 10 Pound Syrian coins, which are similarly sized to the 20 Krone Norwegian coin (1 Norwegian Krone equals approximately 11 Syrian pounds). With their trickery they were able to purchase 2 salted salmons and avoid arrest.
Authorities were hot on Assad’s Eurotrip trail throughout August, but the critical tipoff came from the German chocolatier, Herman Derdeutscher, owner of the chocolate shop in Steinheim that Assad visited. “I saw these two come in,” Derdeutscher recounts. “They had lots of bags with them, and I see they have some Italian shoes, some cheap wines, some tapas, Lego. Their taste in wine was abysmal, but otherwise, it all looked pretty ordinary.”
Assad got right down to business, Derdeutscher recalls. “Right away he asked me for every chocolate truffle in the store. And then I remember reading in my newspaper about that list of luxury goods for the embargo on Syria and there I see what’s in the shopping bags, and my truffles, and I put two and two together.
“And of course I’m also thinking, why isn’t the man carrying any of the shopping bags?”
When authorities arrived, Assad and Amir attempted to pass themselves off as Turks, but to no avail. In the words of officer Luwe Öder, “To test their Turkishness we asked them to draw the Turkish flag. You know, red, with its crescent moon and adjacent star. So they drew it, but they both drew the star inside the crescent, like it appears on the Algerian, Tunisian, and Libyan flags. That let us know we were dealing with Arabs, not Turks.”
Derdeutscher said he feels no guilt for calling the Allgemeinöffentlichkeitssicherheitspersonal (English: “Police”) and turning in Assad. “But I do wish the government had let him make this purchase anyway.”
Assad might not have gotten to taste Derdeutscher’s chocolate, but the Germans were able to engineer a “made in Germany” deal that left everyone happy, including the dictator’s sweet tooth.
The deal was orchestrated by Ilse Eigner, head of the BundesministeriumfürErnährungLandwirtschaftundverbraucherschutz (English: “FDA”). Under the deal, chocolate truffles were collected from across the world and put into a truffle trust fund. Assad would then gain the truffle trust fund and free travel back to Syria on the condition that he stop all of the terrible stupid conflict going on there.
Assad countered, demanding that the Belgians double their contribution, ignoring his wife’s plea’s that, “Honey, we’re in a German prison and in no place to be making demands.” But instead the Belgians – to everyone’s surprise – quadrupled their contribution and, with that, convinced Assad to throw in a peace-with-Israel.
Upon his return, Assad originally refused to share the chocolatey mountain of truffles with his fellow Syrians on the grounds that, “they have peace; what more do they want?” But he soon relented after Amir reminded him about the severe lack of freezer space in the Assad home.
The way she puts it: “If only every civil conflict could melt away as fast as a German chocolate truffle in the scorching Syrian sun.”