Syria tycoon Rami Makhlouf refuses to step down from Syriatel, criticizes arrests

Syria tycoon Rami Makhlouf refuses to step down from Syriatel, criticizes arrests

Rami Makhlouf, one of Syria’s most powerful businessmen, has refused to step down from the country’s main mobile operator Syriatel and said that the government’s arrest of managers at the company will be a “catastrophe” for the Syrian economy.

Makhlouf, who is President Bashar al-Assad’s cousin, made the comments in a video published on his Facebook account, the third in a string of recent videos that have publicly exposed cracks within the ruling Syrian elite.

The business tycoon previously complained that Syrian security forces had been arresting his employees, despite his previous support for them.

“Today, the pressure on me began in an […] inhumane manner. Security services have started to arrest my employees,” he said in a video.

Previously, Makhlouf had complained on the financial demands made on him by the Syrian government.

“I spend 10 million liras on my employees, they tell me to cut it to 5 million liras. These are real expenses. They are not made up,” he said.

His videos have attracted attention for their frank description of the tensions in the usually secretive Syrian elite.

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