Syria’s Assad names new government headed by PM Arnous

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syrian President Bashar Assad issues a decree appointing a new cabinet without changing the heads of so-called “sovereign” portfolios, days after confirming Hussein Arnous as the country’s premier.

The decree, published on the presidency’s social media channels, keeps the heads of the foreign affairs, defense, interior, economy and information ministries in their posts but changes those in charge of 12 other cabinet portfolios, including the ministries of finance, energy and public health.

The 29-minister government, which includes three female ministers, is the fifth to be formed since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011.

It comes as Syria grapples with a grinding economic crisis, a spiraling coronavirus outbreak and continued violence in the country’s north.

The government’s official mandate will expire next July when presidential elections are due, after which it will continue to function in a caretaker capacity until a presidential decree is issued naming a new cabinet, as per the constitution.

Assad had on Tuesday named Arnous as prime minister after he was appointed interim premier in June ahead of last month’s parliamentary polls.

Arnous, an engineer who was previously the water resources minister, replaced Imad Khamis after he was sacked more than two months ago.

Khamis headed the government for four years and the presidency did not give an official reason for his removal, but it followed a wave of criticism against the government for its handling of an economic crisis that had plunged war-weary Syrians deeper into poverty.

A new wave of US sanctions against Syria that came into effect in June has sparked fears of deeper economic turmoil.


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