[QODLink]
Archive
Shake-up in Syrian cabinet
Faruq al-Shara, Syria's long-serving foreign minister, has been named as vice president, state news agency Sana reported, replacing Abdul Halim Khaddam, branded a traitor by Damascus.
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2006 16:46 GMT
Muallem (L) replaces Shara (R) as foreign minister
Faruq al-Shara, Syria's long-serving foreign minister, has been named as vice president, state news agency Sana reported, replacing Abdul Halim Khaddam, branded a traitor by Damascus.

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, replaced Shara with Walid Muallem, currently deputy foreign minister, in a cabinet shake-up that left the key posts of prime minister and defence minister unchanged.

Bassam Abdelmajid was named interior minister.

He replaces Ghazi Kanaan, the former Syrian intelligence chief in neighbouring Lebanon, who committed suicide in October.

Shara, 68, has been foreign minister since 1984 and has been a fierce critic of Israel and its occupation of the Golan Heights.

Khaddam, a hardline Baath party member, quit last year and has since  accused Damascus of involvement in the murder a year ago of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.

Syria's official daily Ath-Thawra said in January that Khaddam, now in exile in Paris, would be tried for high treason.

He would also be investigated for corruption and his assets seized. Al-Shara is seen as a pragmatic but tough negotiator.

French protection

Abdul Halim Khaddam would be
tried for treason, reports say

Al-Shara enjoyed the confidence of the current president's father, Hafez al-Assad, who entrusted him with secret negotiations launched in 1991 with Israel.

Elegant and speaking perfect English, Shara was born in 1938 in Deraa district, 100km south of Damascus.

He received a degree in English literature at Damascus University in 1963 and headed the Syrian Airlines office in Britain from that year until 1976.

During his time in Britain he also studied and obtained a degree in international law at London University.

Shara joined the diplomatic corps in 1977 as ambassador to Rome, a post he held for three years before becoming minister of state for foreign affairs.

In 1983 he briefly took over as acting information minister before being appointed foreign minister the following year.

Khaddam, 73, a leading hardliner in the Syrian hierarchy, was a Baath Party official in the 1960s and became foreign minister and deputy prime minister in the 1970s.

He took the post of vice president in 1984.

UN probe

Al-Assad is accused of
threatening Rafiq al-Hariri

Now living under police protection in France, Khaddam has accused al-Assad of personally threatening al-Hariri a few months before his assassination on 14 February last year.
 
The popular five-time prime minister was killed in a bomb blast in Beirut for which a UN probe has implicated Syrian intelligence.

"I know the facts because I myself heard Bashar al-Assad. But the assessment of the weight of these threats and whether Bashar al-Assad was involved or not [in al-Hariri's murder] is a matter for the investigators," Khaddam told French radio RTL.
  
"One day Bashar called in Rafiq Hariri in the presence of security officers and gave him a hard time. He accused him of acting against Syria and for the election in Lebanon of an anti-Syrian president. He said it was he who made the decisions and added: 'Anyone who goes against my decisions, I liquidate him'."

Source:
AFP
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.