Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf says ‘coming days decisive’ amid ongoing spat with regime

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Embattled Syrian businessman Rami Makhlouf, who has claimed he is being unfairly targeted by the regime headed by his cousin Bashar al-Assad, described his situation as a “farce” and said that the coming days would be “decisive.”

Makhlouf released a new Facebook post on Sunday in which he revealed new information surrounding his employees at Syriatel – Syria’s largest telecom provider and one of the central pillars of Makhlouf’s sprawling business empire – and that he hoped there would be a "divine intervention that will shake the earth under the feet of the oppressors.”

“There is no doubt that there is an invisible hand of supernatural power that allows some people to dare to own property and threaten to take serious measures against our actions if we do not submit to their requests,” Makhlouf wrote.

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The Syrian tycoon said that two threats were made against his company, the first of which was an amount levied on Syriatel to pay 134,000,000,000,000 Syrian pounds by the Syrian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. Makhlouf said the company accepted the imposed amount. The second threat imposed on the company, according to Makhlouf, was the authorities raising of the claims imposed on Syriatel to pay 50 percent of the company’s revenues to the government.

“This will lead to bankruptcy, which we did not accept,” Makhlouf wrote.

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The Syrian government says Syriatel, the largest mobile phone network in Syria, owes 134 billion pounds, around $77 million at the current exchange rate on the parallel market.

A Syrian court formally placed a temporary travel ban on Makhlouf, whose assets were also seized by the government last month.

The moves are the latest in the ongoing feud between Makhlouf and al-Assad, in which Makhlouf has published several videos criticizing the Syrian government.

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