Rami Makhlouf Urges Security Services to End Hunt of ‘Patriotic Loyalists’
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife, Asma, and his maternal cousin Rami Makhlouf have been racing to win over the hearts of the poor and needy in Damascus and Syria’s west coast.
Marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Makhlouf posted on his Facebook page: “We hope that security authorities stop pursuing patriotic loyalists and pay attention to criminals. We also hope that the employees held in custody are released on this blessed Eid al-Fitr.”
Disagreements between Makhlouf and Syrian authorities have escalated since the government’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority asked Syriatel, one of his companies, to pay $185 million in taxes by May 5.
The Ministry of Finance announced the seizure of Makhlouf’s assets. The Damascus Securities Exchange also froze $15.2 million shares owned by Makhlouf in 12 banks, in addition to a court in Damascus issuing a travel ban against the business tycoon.
Makhlouf announced that he had transferred about a billion and a half Syrian pounds to Al-Bustan Charitable Association and others “to continue providing humanitarian services.”
Makhlouf said that he had “not forgotten his duty towards his family” despite “the difficult circumstances we are going through”, referring to the current conflict with the government that led to him being banned from traveling and withholding his money, as a guarantee of payment for the 130 billion pounds he owes for his firm’s license.
Makhlouf funds Al-Bustan Charitable Society, which is still operating despite changes affecting most of its members, and all of its core managers.
Regarding the donation, which is equivalent to about 1 percent of the amount the government is asking him to pay, Makhlouf said that he aims to continue “providing humanitarian services to those who deserve them sincerely and honestly.”
He explained that the association “was caring for about 7,500 families of martyrs and 2,500 families of wounded, in addition to funding thousands of surgeries and various kinds of aid.”
Makhlouf wished, in a post on his Facebook page, from the association’s managers and employees, to “continue these programs and implement them to the fullest extent to serve our people in various Syrian regions, especially in the countryside.”