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Geopolitics

Meet Bashar al-Assad’s New Prime Minister

AL-ARABIYA (Saoudi Arabia) / SANA (Syria)

DAMASCUS - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had commissioned a regime insider to form the next government according to the al-Arabiya news channel. Riad Hijab, who served as minister of agriculture in the previous government, was appointed to replace outgoing Prime Minister Adel Safr.

The formation of the new cabinet comes days after the opening of the new parliament, where Assad gave a speech about why he refuses to negotiate with the "terrorists' seeking to destroy the country.

The new prime minister is 56 years old and comes from the eastern, largely tribal province of Deir a-Zor, one of regions rising against the regime. He holds a Ph.D in agricultural engineering, and served as secretary of the Baath Party in Deir a-Zor from 2004 until 2008, Hijab was then appointed as governor of the Qunautra and Azqah provinces.

As the cabinet is reshuffled, fighting continues across Syria between rebels and the army, with 51 people reported killed on Tuesday. Syria expelled diplomats from several countries, a list of which is found on the Syrian official news agency website, SANA, which declared "diplomacy an important tool to communicate and to resolve pending disputes and problems."

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