Another information war is unleashed against Russia, which is strengthening its position in the Middle East: the Kremlin allegedly was planning a coup to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. First of all, the United States may be interested in spreading such rumors, which have noticeably intensified in the Syrian direction in recent weeks.
The mystery of the failed coup.
The reason for the appearance of rumors about the Kremlin’s desire to “overthrow” the Syrian president was the arrest of his cousin Rami Mahlouf – one of the richest people in Syria. He is the owner and one of the leaders of the Cham holding, which invests in various fields of activity: financial, hotel, construction, energy, trade …
The Cham empire was created by the father of a businessman, Muhammad Mahluf, who, in turn, was in business with the father of the current president, Hafez al-Assad. Opponents of the regime criticized Makhlouf for corruption: in particular, his enterprises received government contracts for the construction of new housing in the vicinity of Damascus in the place of destroyed neighborhoods reclaimed from terrorists.
The oligarch’s son, 22-year-old Mohamed Mahlouf, constantly publishes photos on Instagram showing his luxurious life: he poses in front of luxury sports cars or in the courtyard of his chic villa in Dubai.
In 2011, the European Union and the United States imposed personal sanctions against Rami Makhlouf (a few weeks after the outbreak of the civil war), a formal reason for which is financial support for the Syrian regime. Switzerland froze his personal accounts. After that, Makhlouf publicly stated that he no longer intended to do business, but would put all his efforts into charity. Although he convinced few people that he really went out of business … The sanctions against the billionaire have not been lifted.
Custody which costed $ 3 billion ?
Makhluf played a significant role in the war: the charity association Al-Bustan created by him formed a militia out of volunteers, offering them a very attractive salary of $ 350 by today’s Syrian standards. But, apparently, the growing influence of Mahlouf began to strain Assad – and in August, according to several Arab publications, he dealt a crushing blow to the business empire of Cham.
Rami Mahlouf, his brothers Ehab and Iyad and father Muhammad Mahlouf were placed under house arrest, and their money was confiscated. The director of the Al-Bustan association, Samer Darwish, was also placed under house arrest, and her militia has been disbanded. An influential family stake in Syriatel, Syria’s largest mobile operator, will also be nationalized.
Why did the Mahlouf family fall out of favor? Some Arab publications report “piquant” details: allegedly, Moscow read the oligarch to Bashar al-Assad’s successors … who learned about the upcoming “palace coup” from Hezbollah intelligence.
But, it seems, the truth is much more prosaic: the Kremlin made Assad a condition in the short term to pay debts that exceeded $ 3 billion. The Syrian president turned to his cousin with a demand for money, but he refused.
What is really going on? The situation is commented on by political scientist, senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Roshchin.
– Do you think the scenario of Assad’s deposition about which the Arab mass media write is real?
– The version of Russia’s desire to remove Assad does not seem solid to me. It was under Assad and his political leadership that the war was actually won, the country was saved from collapse. A change of leader at this difficult moment, when the war is not over, will lead to disorganization and chaos in Syria, which has just freed itself from the tyranny of extremists. It seems to me that the “friends” of Syria and Russia would be very enthusiastic in this case.
– But who could be profitable to spread rumors that Moscow wants to change the ruling regime in Syria?
- As we well understand, not everyone loves Assad in Syria, to put it mildly, but at the moment there is no real alternative to him in the country. I can only make assumptions to whom rumors are beneficial. Perhaps this is due to the fact that in the conditions of relative stabilization of the situation in Syria, the president’s hidden opponents intensified and began to launch trial balloons about his possible resignation.
One can say for sure who is not interested in the removal of Assad – this is Iran, for which he is a loyal ally not just from the beginning of the armed conflict, but from the moment he took office in 2000.
Now not one, even the most senior Russian citizen can feel safe abroad.
– What is happening in Syria today? How close is the end of the civil war, given that active hostilities are currently being conducted only in Idlib?
- I think the abscess in Idlib will inevitably break through. The air attack of the Americans in Idlib, which occurred on September 1 and violated the ceasefire, is explained, in my opinion, by the continued complete inaction of Turkey in the zone, which it took under its responsibility. Obviously, the al-Qaida’s Syrian branch felt clear Turkish support, and that was what led to more and more frequent attacks by militants against our Khmeimim air base.
But the Americans also have their own interests in Syria; they, unlike the Turks, are striving to destroy the control posts of Al-Qaeda forces in Idlib.
In the future, Syria and Russia will be forced to strengthen their presence there, and strive to clarify the real, not officially designated plans of Turkey in this province.