Assad keeps key posts in new government


Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Saturday approved the formation of a new cabinet by Prime Minister Riad Hijab.

It has a new ministerial post of National Reconciliation, apparently designed to try to help quell the uprising against the rule of the former government, which has grown increasingly violent over the past 15 months.

The new post was taken by prominent opposition figure Ali Haidar, leader of the Syrian Social National Party.

An even higher post was even given to another opposition figure, Qadri Jamil, head of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation, who was assigned as deputy Premier for Economic Affairs and Minister for Trade.

The new cabinet is headed by a loyalist member of Assad’s Baath Party, according to Syria’s state news agency.

Assad had promised after the May 7 parliamentary elections to make the government more inclusive to politicians from other parties. But the appointment of Hijab as prime minister raised questions about his commitment to that pledge.

There was no change on Friday in the key posts at the foreign, defense and interior ministries.

The opposition boycotted the parliamentary elections.

Parliament is considered little more than a rubber stamp in Syria, where the president and a tight coterie of advisers hold the real power.