President Bashar al-Assad has enacted legislation to amend certain provisions of the Private Protection and Guard Companies Law. There are indications that this legal modification has been influenced by Russian directives, particularly concerning the Wagner militias.
The text of the newly enacted law, designated as No. 22 of 2023, asserts that the changes are intended to regulate and enhance the operations of these companies. This revision seeks to address the shortcomings observed in the previous law and establish a transparent mechanism for monitoring violations and enforcing penalties against offenders.
According to this amended law, companies engaged in private protection, and guarding, as well as the transfer of currency, jewelry, and precious metals for a fee must obtain a license. However, they must meet certain prerequisites, including having Syrian owners and a minimum capital of 500 million Syrian pounds. Moreover, these companies must maintain a fixed headquarters and adhere to various regulations concerning the provision of security services for safeguarding properties, documents, and individuals. The issuance of the license for these companies is contingent on approval by the Minister of Interior, subject to the endorsement of the National Security Bureau of Assad’s intelligence.
Under the revised law, the license period has been set at one year, with the possibility of renewal. The law also outlines procedures for the acquisition and allocation of weapons, ammunition, devices, equipment, and machinery, with specific types and quantities to be determined by the company owner.
Should there be a need to import weapons, ammunition, equipment, or machinery, the company must submit a request to the Minister of the Interior for approval. If approved, the required items will be provided in coordination with relevant authorities. The law prescribes fines ranging from one hundred thousand to five million Syrian pounds for violations.
Furthermore, the law prohibits these companies from engaging with foreign entities or serving as branches of foreign or Arab companies. It also strictly regulates the transfer of company ownership or the assignment of granted licenses, requiring prior approval from the Minister of the Interior. New owners or assignees must meet the same qualifying conditions.
Arab media has reported suggestions that these legal amendments are linked to the reorganization of security companies in Syria and potentially mark the end of the Russian company Wagner, following the demise of its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Notably, the amendment imposes a ban on dealing with foreign companies.
According to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, the existing status of private protection and guard companies implies that they are effectively under the control of “businessmen” seeking to invest in the security sector for the protection of their commercial interests. In reality, these companies appear to be influenced by three major parties: Iran, Russia, and the Assad regime, represented by the Fourth Division
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.