Assad’s intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk arrested for coup plot

Ali Mamlouk (pictured) placed under house arrest for plotting coup, as the Assad regime seems to be falling apart. (Courtesy: The Telegraph)

Intelligence chief of Syria’s National Security Bureau Ali Mamlouk has been placed under house arrest and has been removed from his position, after suspicions that he was plotting a coup, a further sign that Bashar al-Assad’s regime is struggling.

Mamlouk, who was one of the few officials remaining with direct access to President Bashar al-Assad, has been accused of talking with countries backing the rebels in Syria, as well as exiled members of the regime.

It is believed that as the Syrian army started losing territory, such as Jisr al-Shughour, to rebels, Mamlouk reached out to foreign governments as exiled regime officials.

“Mamlouk had been communicating with Turkish intelligence through an intermediary,” a source with detailed knowledge of the plan told The Telegraph. He was also in contact with Bashar al-Assad’s uncle, Rifaat al-Assad, who was exiled in the 1980’s for being linked to plotting a coup.

This dismissal comes as further evidence of the struggles of the regime’s “inner circle”, with speculations that the increasing paranoia in Damascus could be related to disagreements over the Iranian role in the Syrian government.

Anonymous sources inside the Syrian presidential palace told The Telegraph that the top officials are increasingly turning on each other regarding the role being played in the war by Iran.

Mamlouk’s arrest comes after the death of Rustum Ghazaleh on April 24, the head of the Political Security Directorate, after an attack by assailants devoted to General Rafiq Shehadeh, who was fired for the death.

Iran’s influence and role in Syria is heavily discussed with some believing that Iran now has greater power in Syria than they should having taken control over large sections of the leadership, the central bank and battle tactics.

“Most of the advisers at the presidential palace are now Iranian. Mamlouk hated that Syria was giving her sovereignty up to Iran. He thought there needed to be change,” an anonymous source close to the palace said. It is believed that the deceased Ghazaleh held the same opinion.

Others believe that Iran has been vital in Syrian defenses, and economically after having provided more than $15 billion, according to Damascus’ finance minister.

The Iranian presence in Syria is also crucial for Iran, as they use Syria as the principal route to arming Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“Iran appears to be calling the shots now. This is partly from the fear that the regime might collapse from the inside out. Tehran is trying to create a brick wall around them,” Charles Lister, a Syria expert based in Washington DC was quoted as saying.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:55 - GMT 10:55
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