Syrian President Reshuffles Cabinet

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reshuffled the cabinet Thursday, aiming to improve the government' s performance after doubts about the performance of some ministries.

On March 29, al-Assad sacked the cabinet headed by Naji al- Otari, who has been in place since 2003, to help contain the recent unrest which erupted more than three weeks ago. Syria blames the unrest on armed gangs and foreign conspiracy. Al-Assad appointed Adel Safar, former agriculture minister, to form the new government.

In result, the reshuffle brought in 16 new ministers to the 30- member cabinet.

The change included ministers of industry, information, tourism, electricity, economy, local administration, justice, social affairs, transport, higher education, interior, finance, agriculture, health, education and housing, in addition to five state ministers.

Adnan Mahmoud is named as information minister to replace Mohsen Bilal. Walid al-Moallem kept his post as the foreign minister. The ministry of expatriates was combined with the foreign ministry. According to a presidential decree broadcast by SANA, Syrian official news agency, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar was named as interior minister to replace Said Mohammad Sammour.

Lamia Asi, the former economy minister, is named as minister of tourism.

Defense Minister Gen. Ali Habib retained his post, as well as the oil minister and the ministers of culture, irrigation, religious affairs, communications, presidential affairs and environment.
Xinhua