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News Analysis: Syria's new government faces escalation of tension on international arena

(Xinhua)

08:23, June 25, 2012

DAMASCUS, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Despite optimism among Syria's politicians about the newly formed government as a means to find an exit for the country's crisis and a step toward a national unity government, prospects for the new move seem slim as the 16- month-old crisis has veered toward more international tension after the recent dispute with Turkey.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered Saturday a major cabinet shake-up, bringing in 20 new ministers but keeping three major portfolios unchanged, namely, the ministers of defense, foreign affairs and interior.

The cabinet reshuffle came in light of the new constitution and after the election of a new parliament, a move that aimed at stemming the congestion in the country.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency said new Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab has announced the naming of his new cabinet that has brought in 20 new ministers and founded three new ministries, namely, the ministry of national reconciliation affairs, the ministry of domestic trade and the ministry of water resources.

The new cabinet combined two opposition figures, Ali Haidar, member of the People's Will Party, who took the post of minister of national reconciliation, and Qadri Jamil, the head of the People's Will Party who was also named as the minister of the domestic trade.

The presence of opposition figures in the new government was deemed by many observers as a step in the right way.

After winning a post in the new government, Qadri Jamil said in a number of interviews with the Syrian media that the presence of opposition in the government is "an exceptional event" resulted by the challenges the country has been facing.

Jamil, who has also won a seat in the Syrian parliament, said the new cabinet represents a glimmer of hope for Syria to come out of the crisis safely.

Jamil stressed the importance of moving forward towards forming a national unity government, saying the recent government is "a crisis-solving or an emergency government" suitable for the time being in order to hammer out an exit to the crisis.

He noted that the current circumstances didn't allow this government to be a national unity one, hinting that the new government should represent wider spectra of the society.

For his side, Ali Haidar, who took the ministry of national reconciliation, stressed that the new government is a step toward achieving a forthcoming national unity government.

He said the government could have involved wider representations.

Meanwhile, George Gabbou, a political analyst and an ex- parliamentarian, told Xinhua that having opponents in the government is "remarkable," hoping that the new government would be conducive in leapfrogging the obstacles and the hurdles facing the countries in these fateful moments.

Gabbour noted that the most important ministry is the ministry of national reconciliation given its importance in crafting a suitable solution.

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