Is Assad turning on his cronies? I Inside Story

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The inner circle of Syria’s president Bashar Al Assad has always been tight, any disputes within the ruling family were kept strictly behind closed doors.
Until recently.
There’s a rift between the president’s cousin Rami Makhlouf and the Syrian government, and it’s very public.
Makhlouf has long been considered untouchable, but now he’s accused of owing millions of dollars in back taxes to the state… an indication the tycoon is being isolated from power.
But in an unprecedented move, Makhlouf posted his views on social media, accusing government officials of trying to take over his telecommunications company and arresting his employees.
Makhlouf said he won’t step down from Syriatel – one of Syria’s biggest firms.
But he’s already been barred from traveling and his assets have been seized.
So what’s exactly triggered this now, after nine years of war?

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, a Middle East specialist at the Russia International Affairs Council.

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