Rami Makhlouf threats anger Assad, Assef Shawkat and Ghazale sidelined


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Syrian credible sources claim billionaire Rami Makhlouf has incurred the wrath of President Bashar Assad for his recent off the record statements to a NY Times reporter. Makhlouf is accused of having boasted Syria’s capacity to order terrorist operations against FINUL forces in South Lebanon. Makhlouf claimed Hizbullah would execute any such order from Damascus. Ten days later, the Italian contingent at the FINUL was targeted by a terror attack in which one Italian soldier was killed.

Sources added that President Assad ordered his indiscrete cousin, Rami Makhlouf, to rapatriate 3 billion dollars from foreign accounts to Syria- a sum which was deposited in special Assad family accounts and put at the disposal of the regime’s survival.

Hizbullah worried

A side effect of Rami Makhlouf’s threats has been the tightening of security in areas controlled by Hezbullah near Beirut. The pro-Iranian party is worried their Syrian allies could strike against FINUL, or other Western targets, with no prior warning, and with a view to implicate Hizbullah.

Assaf Shawkat and Roston Ghazale sidelined

Sources revealed that the head of Military Intelligence (and brother in law of President Assad), General Assef Shawkat, has been sidelined after his failure to quell the Tel Kalakh revolt. General Shawkat owns in residence in Tel Kalakh, a small town which lies directly on Lebanon’s borders and had boasted of his warm relations with its inhabitants. Notwithstanding Assef’s assurances, the army had to send 80 main battle tanks to control the rebellious Tel Kalakh. Sources hinted that Assaf Shawkat, a sworn enemy of Maher Assad, might be under suspicion, having initiated and nurtured Syria’s contacts with French officials, including the then French Minister of Interior, Nicholas Sarkozy.

Other officers sidelined since the start of the insurrection include Brigadier General Roston Ghazale
, Assad’s former viceroy in Lebanon. General Ghazale has lost his prerogatives as chief of security for the rural area around the capital (the “Rif of Damascus”) after his failure to quell the rebellion in the city of Deraa, the birth place of Syria’s insurrection. General Ghazale’s role has been limited to the defense of the Abbasiyyin Square in Damascus which the protestors had tried, and failed, to transform into the equivalent of Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Another high ranking officer has been entrusted with the defense of the Omayyads Square in the city.

Sources mentioned General Jamii Jamii, the former chief of Syrian Military Intelligence in Beirut until 2005, now in charge of security in Syria’s Kurdish north. General Jamii has adopted a low profile against kurdish protestors, who were allowed to dismantle Hafez Assad’s statues in all immunity- the regime still hoping to keep Syria’s kurdish population away from the general revolt.

Assad losing the Kurdish and Palestinian cards

This tolerant attitude could change soon. Yesterday, all twelve kurdish political parties refused President Assad’s invitation for a meeting. While many of Syria’s kurdish leaders were ready to accommodate Assad, they had to say no to Assad under the pressure of the kurdish young militants.

Losing the kurdish card could be serious bad news for Mr. Assad, both for internal reasons and as a counterweight to Turkey’s interference in Syrian affairs.

As it happens, Mr Assad had just lost his Palestinian Refugees card on sunday, after the massacre committed by troops of Ahmed Jibril at the Damascus Yarmouk Refugees Camp. Twenty Palestinians were shot by Ahmed Jibril’s men on sunday. Jibril, whose headquarters at Yarmouk Camp were surrounded by angry Palestinian civilians could not make an escape until troops came to his rescue from PFLP-General Command bases outside Damascus.

The Yarmouk Camp incidents should put an end to any further Palestinian marches to the Israeli border.

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