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Lebanon 'grants nationality to Assad-linked businessmen, officials' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Lebanon 'grants nationality to Assad-linked businessmen, officials'

Aoun signed the controversial order last month [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 June, 2018

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A decree in Lebanon has reportedly granted nationality to several Syrian businessmen and officials linked to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

A decree in Lebanon has reportedly granted nationality to several Syrian businessmen and officials linked to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The controversial order to grant nationality to more than 300 people was signed by Lebanon's president Michel Aoun last month but has only recently become public, sparking widespread anger.

Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar this week released a purportedly leaked list of the naturalised individuals, including several Assad-linked Syrians.

Among the names was Samer Fawwaz, a businessman who replaced Assad's billionaire cousin Rami Makhlouf after he resigned from his posts at the start of the 2011 uprising, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.

Other names on the leaked list were Samer Youssef, the head of Damascus-based Sham FM, Mufid Karami, a senior regime financier, and Saeed Sabra, a close Assad confidant.

It also listed family members of former Syrian education minister Hani Murtada and relatives of former senior official Farouk Joud.

On Monday, Lebanese party leaders demanded authorities release a copy of the naturalisation decree, The Daily Star  reported.

Part of the controversy also stems from reports that some of the naturalised citizens paid large sums of money and that many were Muslim - a move that could shift the country's sectarian balance.

Many Christian lawmakers and officials have slammed the move and called for it to be rescinded.

On Saturday, Aoun issued a statement challenging critics to present evidence that people had been unfairly granted nationality.

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