Place of birth: Tartus 1978
Place of birth: Tartus 1978
Yasir Aziz Abbas (born in Tartous) did not have a presence in the commercial forums before 2011; however, the sanctions that the regime faced made Abbas one of the most prominent shadow businessmen close to Assad’s circle. The regime took advantage of Abbas, and other businessmen, to create commercial fronts to elude those sanctions, which gave Abbas the important role of managing and partnering in several companies, including:
Yasir Abbas spoke of his new role in his interview with a French journalist, Annie Rishiri, in which he said:
“In regards to the traditional elite, they hope to mitigate the consequences of the sanctions imposed on them by ceasing their support for the Syrian regime. on the other hand, the rise of the new elite -which supports the regime in Damascus- may represent a barrier to the traditional elite reaching its goals.”
Through the mentioned companies, Yasir Abbas offered logistical support to the regime, especially in the energy, fuel, and arms deals sectors, where he secured -starting 2017- all the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources’ contracts related to the importing of oil, and became one of the most prominent godfathers of the commercial exchanges with influential figures in Syria. On one occasion, he brokered an Iranian loan for the Syrian government, which was used to secure fuel, Yasir stresses that, “Before the war, I used to run a company that employed about 4,000 employees, but now, I have entered into competition with the big trade families close to Assad’s circle”, adding, “Socially, I became closer to these families, but without becoming visible.”
It is worth noting that Yasser Abbas was charged in 2016 along with Khaled Taqi with smuggling 24,108 tons of natural gas to Syria, through the Al-Malik Al-Shab Company, between 2013 and 2014. Published papers pointed out that these operations were done without any customs paperwork, nor any intention to file any paperwork with the customs, which cost the General Manager of Customs Services, Majdi Hakima, his job.
A committee composed of the Central Authority for Oversight and Inspection called for the issuance of a decision stipulating the seizure of movable and immovable property of the owners and their wives of the aforementioned company and travel bans, and fines and fees resulting from the smuggling process amounting to 6.574 billion Syrian pounds.
However, the file was soon closed, and a forged document proved that Al-Malik Al-Shab purchased the natural gas on behalf of Mahruqat Company – an official Syrian fuel distribution company- and under the supervision of customs, and a simple replacement of the General Director of Customs, was sufficient, and the Central Supervision and Inspection Authority was forced to deny taking any legal action against the company and its owners, burying the case completely, enabling Yasir Abbas to acquire the oil import contracts of the Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources since 2017.
Abbas’s activities didn’t stop at providing the regime with fuel, but he played a direct role in the import of oil, and the participation in shipping goods and military equipment, from Iran to Syria, for the Air Defense Intelligence Administration, and Army logistics office. This prompted the US Treasury to place Yasir Abbas on the sanctions lists.
To circumvent those sanctions, Abbas started establishing companies for his brothers in his stead. In February 2019, the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection approved the establishment of the A’mal Limited Company in the city of Damascus, to work in the field of contracting, oil, and the distribution of oil digging machinery, storage, oil refining, and importing equipment and machinery needed in oil digging. The company is owned by Mohammad Shihada Dukan, who holds 60 percent of its shares, and Bassel Aziz Abbas, who holds the other 40 percent of the shares. As well as establishing two other companies in the name of Ali Aziz Abbas, Yasir’s brother. The companies are called Albahri, and the Olympic Champion, noting that Ali Abbas is a Syrian kickboxing champion.