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SYRIA - The Government.

The president of the republic appoints and can fire the prime minister. But the choice and/or dismissal of the prime minister must be approved by the invisible layer of authority before the president can make the relevant announcement. Once cleared, the prime minister can appoint his cabinet.

The appointment of ministers, however, must be in line with directives issued through the president by the invisible layer. Under this Baathist regime, there is always a list of political ministers, mainly figures more powerful than the premier and having served in the cabinet for years, that must be retained in any government. Usually the most powerful political appointees in the cabinet are the ministers of defence, interior, foreign affairs and information. Some of the intelligence chiefs, military commanders and heads of key divisions of the ruling Baath Party are part of the invisible layer of authority.

It is below all these figures that the rest of the cabinet, mostly involving technocrats, can take part in governing the country. This has been the system since 1970, when Gen. Hafez Al Assad took over power from a more radical faction of the Baathist regime. In March 2000, three months before he died, President Assad got his eldest surviving son Bashar to play the key role in the formation of a new government under Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Miro (see Miro's profile in OMT). It took nine months after Assad's death for Bashar, as president of the republic, to get Dr Miro to form another government supposed to reflect "positive changes" which the young ruler had promised since March 2000.

It turned out that Miro's second government, announced on Dec. 13, 2001, was more conservative than the first one. This was thanks to the invisible layer, with the new man in charge of the economy - Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Mohammed Al Hussain - opposed to any radical moves to change the economic system of centralised control. This was despite the fact that Syria in October 2001 had applied to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The following are the 35 members of the Dec. 13, 2001, government - with the names underlined being the powerful political appointees listed by order of importance relative to the Baathist regime:

- Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Miro, Prime Minister (see his profiles in OMT). - 1st Lt Gen. Mustafa Tlas, Deputy Premier & Defence Minister (for years). - Ali Hammoud, Interior Minister (new, replaced Dr. Mohammad Al Harba). - Farouk Al Shara, Minister of Foreign Affairs (for years). - Adnan Omran, Minister of Informationn (for years). - Eng. Mohammed Naji Al Ittri, Deputy Premier for Services (since Mar '00) - Dr. Mohammed Hussain, Deputy Premier for Economic Affairs (new). - Ghassan Al Rifai, Minister of Economy & Foreign Trade (new). - Mohammed Al Atrash, Minister of Finance (new). - Dr. Mohammad Iyad Al Shatti, Minister of Health (for years). - Noureddin Mouna, Minister of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform (new). - Bashir Al Munjid, Minister of Communications (new). - Ayman Wanli, Minister of Housing & Utilities (new). - Engineer Munib Bin Asaa'd Saem Al Dahr, Minister of Electricity (years). - Mohammad Bin Abdul Rau'f Ziada, Minister of Awqaf (for years). - Ibrahim Haddad, Minister Of Petroleum & Mineral Resources (new). - Hilal Al Atrash, Minister of Local Administration (new). - Haitham Al Dhweihi, Minister of Presidential Affairs (since Mar '00). - Hassan Al Aswad, Minister of Construction & Building (new). - Mrs. Najwa Qassab Hassan, Minister of Culture (new). - Saadallah Agha Al Qal'a, Minister of Tourism (new). - Dr. Mahmoud Al Sayid, Minister of Education (since Mar '00). - Nabil Al Khatib, Minister of Justice (since Mar '00). - Dr. Hassan Risheh, Minister of Higher Education (since Mar '00). - Engineer Mukarram Obaid, Minister of Transport (since Mar '00). - Mrs. Ghada Al Jabi, Minister of Labour & Social Affairs (new). - Bassam Rostom, Minister of Supply & Domestic Trade (new). - Dr. Issam Al Zaim, Minister of Industry (new, was state minister). - Engineer Radhwan Martini, Minister of Irrigation (was Communications M).

The Ministers of State: - Nasser Qaddour, at Foreign Affairs for Emigration (new position). - Adnan Khazam, for the Environment (new). - Faisal Jawish, without portfolio (new). - Abdel Karim Youssef, without portfolio (new). - Abdel Nasser Daoud, without portfolio (new).
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Publication:APS Review Downstream Trends
Date:Apr 15, 2002
Previous Article:TUNISIA - The Economic Base.
Next Article:SYRIA - Profile - Dr. Mohammed Al Hussain.

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