EXCLUSIVE: As the Syria regime of Bashar Assad grinds out a piecemeal victory in ravaged areas of resistance, the United Nations faces a new challenge: how, and with whom, it will help the regime rebuild — and in the process might further help to consolidate Assad’s sway.
Among other things, Fox News has learned, such recovery work has already involved local cooperation between one U.N. organization, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and a charity placed on a U.S. sanctions list last month for its close ties to Assad’s militias and to the dictator’s crony billionaire cousin, Rami Makhlouf, who was also sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury much earlier.
According to an internal U.N. document examined by Fox News, the small-scale project involved little more than assistance last year, with funding from Kuwait, to revive a number of local handmade carpet cooperatives, using funding from Kuwait, “in cooperation with local communities and Al Bustan NGO.”
That appeared to be a reference to the Al Bustan Charity organization, an entity sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury on May 16, 2017. Treasury declared at the time, “Makhlouf created a vast private network of miitias and security-linked institutions through al-Bustan, a prominent organization recruiting and mobilizing individuals to support and augment Syrian military forces.”
Indeed the role of Al Bustan, in supporting and orchestrating Assad’s militia forces, had been common knowledge for years.