Is Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad turning on his cronies?

The inner circle of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has always been tight, and any disputes within the ruling family were kept strictly behind closed doors. Until recently.

There is a rift between the president’s cousin Rami Makhlouf and the Syrian government, and it is very public.

Makhlouf has long been considered untouchable, but now he is accused of owing millions of dollars in back taxes to the state, an indication the tycoon is being isolated from power.

In an unprecedented move, Makhlouf posted his views on social media, accusing officials of trying to take over his telecommunications company and arresting his employees.

Makhlouf said he would not step down from Syriatel, one of Syria’s biggest firms. But he has already been barred from travelling, and his assets were seized.

So, what exactly triggered this now after nine years of war?

Presenter: Kamahl Santamaria 


Bassam Barabandi – Former Syrian diplomat and a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Policy

Joshua Landis – Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and editor of the Syria Comment blog

Alexey Khlebnikov – Middle East specialist at the Russia International Affairs Council

Source: Al Jazeera News

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