The Assad-Makhlouf spat: A complicated family affair

In the fall of 1997, at the Carlton Hotel in Damascus, a simple wedding was held for the man who would become Syria’s richest businessman and the regime’s financial arm. Rami Makhlouf, Bashar al-Assad’s maternal cousin, was getting married. The Makhlouf family chose a four-star hotel as they liked to keep a low profile about their influence and wealth. In the middle of the wedding, the most important guest arrived. As Assad entered the hall, Rami and his brother Hafez started to cry, and everyone followed; they were remembering Assad’s brother Bassel, who had died two years prior in...

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