Syrian government reshuffled
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reshuffled the government on Thursday, appointing six new ministers and creating a separate environment ministry headed by a woman, the official SANA news agency reported. The shake-up was the sixth since the government of Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri was formed in 2003 and the latest since September 2008.
A decree by Assad saw senior intelligence officer Saeed Sammur named as interior minister, replacing General Bassam Abdel Majid, a former military police chief who entered the government in a February 2006 reshuffle. According to AFP, the justice ministry also changed hands, with Ahmad Yunis, a judge and former MP, replacing Mohammed Ghafri.
Presidential Affairs Minister Ghassan Laham left the cabinet and was replaced by Mansur Azzam, who used to be secretary general for presidential affairs. Ophthalmologist Rida Saeed takes over as health minister from Maher Hussami.
The former ministry of local administration and the environment headed by Hilal al-Atrash was split in two, with the local administration portfolio going to Tamer al-Hijeh, a former governor of the northern city of Aleppo.
A woman, Kawkab al-Sabah Dayeh, was appointed Syria's new minister of state for the environment. Previously she headed the office of environmental and health issues at the Syrian Women's Federation.