President Assad Appoints Adel Safar
In order to help calm the violent atmosphere among protesters against the rule of President Bashar Assad of Syria, the president appointed Adel Safar, a former minister of agriculture, to put together a new government. This move is part of several attempts at reform on the part of Assad which he hopes will send a message to his detractors that he is serious about change.
Safar Viewed as Honest Broker
Many people have a genuine respect for Mr. Safar, and his choice as the man to form a new cabinet, in the wake of the dissolution of the previous cabinet last week, is clearly a step on Assad’s part towards his opposition.
In addition to dismissing en masse his entire government last week, Assad also set up committees to investigate civilian deaths which have occurred during the past two weeks of protests and demonstrations against what many view as one of the Middle East’s most repressive and authoritarian regimes. There has also been a call to disband the “state-of emergency” laws that have been in force for decades.
Adel Safar is 58 years old and was educated in France at the French polytechnic center where he received a doctorate in agricultural sciences. Mr. Safar is the director of the Arab Center for Dry and Arid Lands, and was the dean of the agricultural faculty at Damascus University from 1997 until 2000.
Civil Unrest Threatening Assad’s Rule
The recent civil unrest has proved to be the most serious challenge to the 40-year-plus rule of the Assad family in Syria. The spark that set off this most recent round of demonstrations was the arrest of a number of teens who had written anti-government slogans on walls in the impecunious and drought- stricken southern city of Daraa.
President Assad had not recognized the force of the citizens unhappy with his rule, and has often blamed “foreign conspirators” for the protest movement surging in Syria. Protesters have said that the reforms so far instituted by Assad are simply not far-reaching enough to satisfy their demand for a real, effective change.