World Bulletin/News Desk
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree to form a new government on Saturday, shaking up many cabinet posts but keeping the heads of the interior, defence and foreign ministries, state television reported.
The reappointment of Defence Minister Daoud Rajha will quash widespread rumours, previously denied by the government, that he had been assassinated by rebels who are struggling to bring down President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
The 16-month uprising, which has faced a brutal government crackdown, is increasingly being termed a civil war by foreign observers. Assad argues he is pursuing reforms even as he fights a revolt he says is led by foreign-backed militants.
But critics say Assad's appointment of Riyad Hijab as prime minister earlier in June was a sign the president was turning to hardline loyalists. Hijab formed the new government given Assad's approval, Syria TV said on Saturday.
Hijab, a former agriculture minister, is a committed member of Assad's Baath Party, which has ruled Syria for nearly four decades since his father Hafez al-Assad took power in 1970.
Most of the top government posts were given to Baathist loyalists. Critics consider the cabinet to be largely symbolic and say power in Syria remains in the hands of Assad and his close inner circle of family and security force elites.
The new cabinet follows a May 7 parliamentary election which Assad said was part of the path to reform but the opposition boycotted as a sham, insisting the president must step down.
Other than Rajha, the ministers to retain their post were Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.
Several new ministries were created in the new cabinet.
The moderate Qadri Jamil, a centrist who has said he is speaking both to the government and to rebels, was appointed minister of internal commerce and consumer protection. The post is newly formed and likely to be mostly ceremonial.
Albayrak aims to build four new berths and repair others, bringing the number of working berths to 10.
"I'm in Belgrade for the first time in 25 years," Hoxhaj told reporters, "It shows how difficult the journey was to come to Belgrade, (just) a four-hour drive up the road."
Event participants in Addis Ababa are expected to discuss various topics related to federalism, including fiscal federalism
Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades was rushed to hospital after pro-longed nose bleed on Thursday but was later released.
A Tunisian policeman was killed on Thursday when security forces clashed with militants on the outskirts of Tunis
Japan's defence ministry has said an X-Band radar system was delivered on Tuesday to the U.S. military's communication facility in Kyoto in the western part of the country
Israeli police said on Twitter that a Palestinian man had been detained at a military checkpoint, one day after a Palestinian driver was killed for allegedly hitting several Israeli pedestrians
Media reports of a suspected Russian submarine in Swedish waters could pressure the country to spend more on its military, expert says
Khama's Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is expected to win a reduced majority, extending the grip on power it has held since 1966
Some companies have threatened to halt operations and lay off workers if taxes are not refunded
A Muslim Brotherhood source said that Morsi, who faces multiple criminal charges, did not have a say in the matter since he refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the trials.
Troops repulse Bangsamoro fighters attack on civilian community, after 2 soldiers killed at hospital
The sources said the apartment in the northern town of Asoun housed Lebanese and Syrian gunmen wanted by authorities
Oxford-educated Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told Reuters that he planned a series of rallies in a challenge to Pakistan's embattled prime minister, Nawaz Sharif.
The detainees were moved to detention centers run by the internal security agency (Shin Bet) for interrogation
Student leader says can’t see any ‘practical need’ for second round of talks on political reform after first meeting Tuesday