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More insight on Syrian thinking

The New York Times interviewed Rami Makhloof, who offers insight into the psyche of the Syrian regime.

Troubled by the greatest threat to its four decades of rule, the ruling family, he suggested, has conflated its survival with the existence of the minority sect that views the protests not as legitimate demands for change but rather as the seeds of civil war.

The article makes it apparent that the regime will continue to fight.  In fact, they have no reason not to.  The article also offers some insight on the strategic political and economic outlook of Syria.

Mr. Makhlouf represents broader changes afoot in the country. His very wealth points to the shifting constellation of power in Syria, as the old alliance of Sunni Muslim merchants and officers from Mr. Makhlouf’s Alawite clan gives way to descendants of those officers benefiting from lucrative deals made possible by reforms that have dismantled the public sector.

He serves as an instrument, too, in Mr. Assad’s vision of economic modernization, where Syria serves as a crossroads of regional trade and a hub for oil and gas pipelines that link Iraq and the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and Europe. Cham Holdings, a vast conglomerate with a portfolio of $2 billion, in which Mr. Makhlouf owns a quarter of the shares outright, is at the forefront of that faltering scheme.

Turkey’s recent anger at Syria’s crackdown has fed feelings of betrayal in the government because Turkey was viewed as a centerpiece in that vision. Concerns are growing, too, over the uprising’s economic impact, deepened by Syria’s growing isolation and flight of capital — a legacy that may very well prove more threatening to the government than the protests.

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