JRL NEWSWATCH: “Has Russia grown tired of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad? And what is Russia’s role in the clash between the Assad and Makhlouf clans?” – Al Jazeera/ Anton Mardasov

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“… What was all this media campaign about then? There are a few plausible explanations for it. First, it may have been ordered by parts of the Russian political elite critical of Damascus. Second, it could also have been used as a way to distract attention from reports by … Novaya Gazeta … of Russian mercenaries torturing Syrians. Third, it could be linked to efforts by Russian businessmen to gain greater leverage over the Syrian regime and extract more lucrative contracts. Given the threat of sanctions, the Russian government is not directly involved in economic matters in Syria. Instead, various oligarchs close to the Kremlin have embarked on searching for business opportunities in the Syrian war economy and deployed private military companies to protect their assets. ….”

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