Mohammed Makhlouf, father of Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, has died from coronavirus in Damascus, local media reported on Saturday.
Mohammad Makhlouf, who is also Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's uncle, rose to prominence in Syria when Hafez al-Assad became president after a military coup in 1970.
He was made director of the tobacco monopoly, a move that was not devoid of symbolism. The Alawites of the mountains, where the Makhloufs came from, were tobacco growers. Its production, which was the famed Latakia blend known for its smoky flavor had once been controlled by the SSNP. The cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris is said to have adopted its Marlboro slogan “come to where the flavor is“ from this blend.
As his son would decades later, Mohammed grew to control the Syrian economy behind the scenes, sponsoring major economic deals in the oil sector in the 1980s.