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Syrian Spy Chief Accused Of Coup Attempt

Syria’s spy chief is accused of plotting a coup after major battlefield losses, potentially signaling cracks in regime control amid the 4-year war.

Ali Mamlouk, the head of the country’s National Security Bureau, is under house arrest following accusations he held talks with countries supporting Syrian rebel groups, according to The Telegraph.

Mamlouk, one of few officials with direct access to President Bashar al-Assad, purportedly contacted Turkish officials and Assad’s uncle, Rifaat al-Assad. He contacted Rifaat through a business man in Aleppo and used another intermediary to contact Turkish intelligence, reports The Telegraph. Alleged discussions occurred in the wake of the regime losing the cities of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour to an alliance of Islamist forces.

Rifaat was exiled in the 1980s after a failed coup attempt against his older brother, Hafez al-Assad. When Hafez died in 2000, his son Bashar succeeded him.

But accusations of a coup attempt aren’t plausible, according to Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “His [Mamlouk’s] only hope is the Iranians; It has been since the beginning,” wrote Landis in a post for Syria Comment.

Ali Mamlouk, Syrian spy chief, has been working as normal this week, trusted source confirms. Nothing to coup and house arrest conjecture.

— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) May 11, 2015

Rifaat is an unlikely replacement, says Landis. “I cannot believe that Mamlouk would think of Rifaat al-Assad as a possible successor to Bashar. His expiry date passed long ago. He has no following. It all seems too far fetched.”

Assad’s advisers purportedly dislike Iran’s control over the conflict, providing battle strategy and bankrolling the effort to keep the regime in power, a long-time regional ally. Iran has lent more than $15 billion in credit to the Syrian regime, reports The Telegraph.

“Most of the advisers at the presidential palace are now Iranian,” said a source close to the palace, according to The Telegraph. “Mamlouk hated that Syria was giving her sovereignty up to Iran. He thought there needed to be a change.”

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