A screenshot from one of Rami Makhlouf's videos criticizing the Assad regime. (Rami Makhlouf via Facebook)

Syria Issues Order to Seize Assets of Wealthy Assad Cousin

Syria’s finance minister issued a signed order on Tuesday to seize the assets of Rami Makhlouf, the country’s wealthiest man and a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad. The seizure order mentions funds the telecom tycoon allegedly owes to a regulatory agency to the tune of 134 billion Syrian pounds, the equivalent of about $77 million. It also targets the assets of his wife and adult children, one of whom has aroused widespread ire in the war-torn country for the way he flaunts his airplanes and luxury cars. Makhlouf took an Assad family feud public in three Facebook videos, each bewailing his fall from grace among the country’s ruling elite and criticizing government policy. Analysts say they reflect a state financial crisis stemming from Syria’s more than nine-year civil war, specifically concerning the costs of widespread damage and IOUs coming due as a result of intervention on Assad’s behalf by Iran and Russia. One London-based expert told The Media Line recently that the country could take 50 years to rebuild itself both physically and institutionally.

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