THE BAATH REGIME AND THE SYRIAN GAME OF THRONES: HAFEZ AL-ASSAD’S STRATEGIC LEGACY AT ITS BEST

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THE BAATH REGIME AND THE SYRIAN GAME OF THRONES:
HAFEZ AL-ASSAD’S STRATEGIC LEGACY AT ITS BEST

Dr. Can Kasapoglu, Security and Defense Studies Program Director
Emre Kursat Kaya, Research Fellow

WHAT HAPPENED?
– Late August witnessed potentially significant reshuffles in Syria.
– The Baath regime has re-organized General Suheil al-Hassan’s elite Tiger Forces and announced the launch of a new Syrian Arab Army unit, the 25th Special Tasks Counterterrorism Division.
– The regime has confiscated Syria’s wealthiest figure Rami Makhlouf’s key assets including the critical al-Bustan Association that funds several militia organizations. Some sources voice rumors about the house-arrest of Rami Makhlouf.

SIGNIFICANCE
Suheil al-Hassan and his elite Tiger Forces (Qawat al-Nimr) have long been at the epicenter of the Russian Federation’s plans to re-build the Syrian Arab Armed Forces. Rami Makhlouf, a prominent member of the second most important family of Syria, is considered to be the richest person in the country. Makhlouf is the sponsor of various elite military and paramilitary formations including some Tiger Forces sub-units. With the drastic reshuffle, it seems that Bashar al-Assad and the top military elite of the regime have opted for eliminating possible challengers, marking yet another example of a decades-long Baathist practice in the Middle East.

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