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.
Egyptian forces have arrested Mohame Taha Wahdan, near Cairo. Wahdan had been absent from the public since mid-2013.
The imam of Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb has agreed to meet with French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
With pressure mounting on Sepp Blatter to step aside, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the backing of Jordan's Prince Ali bin Ali Hussein has a candidate.
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said on Thursday he was hopeful that a deal regarding the nuclear negotiations would be finalized in the earliest possible time.
Iraq rebrands military campaign against ISIL over fears of sectarianism
On May 26, 2015, Egyptian authorities requested Qatar to extradite Qaradawi back to Egypt.
The leader of al Qaeda's Syria wing Nusra Front said his group was aiming to capture Damascus and the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would happen quickly.
The Arab League has said that they will be prepared to fight anywhere, when necessary.
ISIL have shot dead 20 at Palmyra amphitheater accusing them of being government supporters.
A raft of deals has been signed between the two countries including agreements on investment, energy and diplomatic affairs.
Hezbollah military commander Khalil Youssef Harb and Mohammed Qabalan labelled as terrorists by Saudi Arabia.
Iran's foreign minister has said that the war in Yemen will only be to Saudi Arabia's detriment.
Yemen has appointed a new interior minister who has been sworn in President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi's personal residence in Riyadh.
Turkey has sent humaniarian aid to Yemen refugees in Djibouti and is planning to send more to Yemen.
Arab forces have attacked Yemen's largest seaport on the Red Sea, damaging their armory and partly destroying two warships.
German and French envoys have said that they doubt that it is 'very likely' negotiators will miss end of June deadline