“Little Syria” Awaits Bashar Assad in Moscow Exile
The two men who bear the heaviest responsibility for the five years of bloodletting in Syria are poised to flee the country – a bitterly ironic development revealed here by DEBKA Weekly.
Bashar Assad, his extended family, his brother the general, and a drove of close cronies in high positions, have started packing their bags ready to relocate to Moscow.
In another part of Syria, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed Caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is set to abandon his bloody realm and flee to more hospitable climes – either AQAP turf in Yemen, or AQIM-controlled regions in the Sahara Desert.
(More about this in another article)
Damascus is buzzing with President Vladmir Putin’s plan to force the Assads and their hangers-on to depart the country by mid-2016 – or thereabouts – and go into exile in Russia.
And another historic irony finds Russia’s FSB and GRU intelligence services helping the Assads prepare their departure, 37 years after a team of CIA agents secretly assisted the Shah of Iran and family to wind up his affairs in Tehran and flee Ayatollah Khomeni’s Islamic Revolution that was overrunning the country.
Moscow was Assad’s final, but not only, choice of exile.
He declined a recent invitation from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to settle down in Tehran. Unlike previous offers, our Iranian sources report, this time, Khamenei was willing to allow Assad to engage in political activity from Tehran.
The supreme leader had decided that the exiled Syrian ruler would be useful for countering Russia’s approaching takeover of the levers of power in Damascus. His machinations would also silence circles in Tehran, starting with the Revolutionary Guards generals, who had long warned that giving the Russians too free a hand in Syria would boomerang against Iran’s interests and national security.
Since the Russian and US presidents started colluding on a plan for ending the Syrian war, influential Iranian sources circles maintain that Tehran paid too high a price for the nuclear accord extracted from Iran by the US.
Having settled on Moscow as Assad’s place of exile, the Russians and his underlings are make every effort to make his exit from the Syrian stage organized and dignified – not like the abject flight of a ruler on the run.
An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Syrians will go into exile with him – cabinet ministers, Baath party politicians, military commanders (in fear of war crimes trials), secret service chiefs, and tycoons whose wealth derives from their Assad connections.
The absconding Syria ruler stipulated as a condition for leaving that a portion of the national financial reserves be transferred in his name to banks of his choosing.
Western spy agencies are tracking those transfers to monitor his preparations for departure.
In his new home, Assad will be barred from political activity – but not from engaging in international business transactions. A suburb of Moscow, dubbed “Little Syria,” has been set aside for these “refugees.”
But in case the Moscow location doesn’t work out for some reason, Russia’s secret services are also preparing an alternative venue for the Assad clan in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.