Makhlouf doesn’t really represent Syrian government views, except when he does

May 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Syrian Ambassador to the US Imad Moustapha sent a letter to the NY Times on May 11 stating that Syrian businessman and first cousin of Bashar al-Asad Rami Makhlouf “holds no official position in the Syrian government and does not speak on behalf of the Syrian authorities.” This was in reaction to the NY Times‘s interview with Makhlouf, which portrays him (correctly) as an influential businessman with connections to Syria’s top rulers.

My guess is that Moustapha didn’t have a problem with Makhlouf’s comments about fighting demonstrators until “the end.” It is more likely that Moustapha was doing damage control for this quote:

If there is no stability here [Syria], there’s no way there will be stability in Israel.

After the Makhlouf article was published, nearly every Arabic-language news outlet focused on this line, including al-Jazeera Arabic. Al-Quds al-Arabi, the London-based daily, dedicated its editorial to analyzing Makhlouf’s statement about Israel. The editorial states that Syria’s support for the Resistance, which has always been questioned by some, is now going to be put under more scrutiny. Presciently, the editorial predicts that Makhlouf’s comment will lead to “unintended consequences” even if it was just a slip of the tongue.

On that note, before two months ago, it was nearly impossible to find a photo of Rami Makhlouf online, much less a detailed article about him in the English-language media. Now that he’s getting front-page NY Times coverage, it’s hard to miss his face.

Top Image of Rami Makhlouf from Aleppous Project

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