In yet another blow to possible reconciliation in Syria – already a very distant option – the oppositional web-site Al-Hal reported (as did the SyrianObserver) in early April that President Assad has decreed that property belonging to Absentees will be confiscated by the government.
Since most of those absentees are gone because the Assad-regime itself forced them away, it’s a particular nefarious move. What this also leads to is of course a wide-open door to forced demographic changes and legitimizing confiscation of properties for millions of displaced and expelled individuals.
That is a move that will make it possible for Assad to preventing people from returning home if ever there is real peace. The reason for this is quite clear; since most of the absentees are a consequence of policies of Assad himself, it’s natural that he sees these people as potential liabilities in securing his new reign.
But it will also be a way for Assad’s enablers in Iran to more closely control areas in a future Syria where the regime in Tehran will try to keep the influence it already has.
For President Assad this decree a way to better control the Syrian population and hinder many from returning, or if they do, make sure they will be in no position to be a threat, instead being completely dependent on the regime.
The Assad regime has a good chance of getting away with this blatant property-theft, since he is backed not only by Iran but also Russia. Assad’s two authoritarian brothers will probably not care about the means he deploys as long as his power is secure and Russian and Iranian interests are met.