As repression grows more and more violent, Syrian leaders have reportedly been discreetly preparing to transfer portions of their fortunes abroad. But is it a sign President Assad is preparing to flee?
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How can we gauge the Syrian regime's confidence that it can hold on to power? One way is to follow the money.
While the harsh repression continues against the popular uprising, well-informed sources in Damascus say that Syrian political leaders and businessmen recently met with four Turkish financiers based in Germany and The Netherlands. President Bachar al-Assad and members of his inner circle – including his cousin and the country's most powerful businessman, Rami Makhlouf -- may be preparing the foreign transfer of $250 million in financial assets. At least two transfers, totaling $59 millions, are scheduled to be made to accounts in Malaysia, the sources say.
Syrian leaders are also said to be looking for ways to relocate their assets through a Turkish NGO said to have links to radical Islamic groups. Turning to Turkey would be surprising given recent comments by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who described the Syrian repression as "appalling." The Turkish leader recently asked his former ally to stop targeting civilians.
Over the years, Syrian military and political leaders are suspected of having accumulated billions of dollars through corruption. Indeed, if just $250 million has been transferred outside of the country in recent weeks, insiders say it is a sign that the regime is still quite confident of its survival.
Read the full version in French by Yves Bourdillon
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