Assad Appoints New PM; Geithner to Warn Regime
According to reports, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has appointed a new Prime Minister. Riyad Farid Hijab, the former agriculture minister, will assume the position and has been taskedwith forming a new administration. Hijab was a member of a previous cabinet and will replaces Adel Safar, who was appointed in April last year shortly after the unrest began. Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi confirmed the report on Twitter. The appointment came a day after agreed to allow the United Nations administer humanitarian aid to four cities.
Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner plans to deliver remarks indicating that, unless Syria demonstrates “meaningful compliance” with current U.N. efforts to end the violence, the U.S. and other countries will “soon join in taking appropriate actions against the Syrian regime, including, if necessary, Chapter 7 action in the U.N. Security Council.” Chapter 7 actions authorize actions that may lead to the use of military force, but this will only be an option after exerting “maximum financial pressure” through sanctions on Syria.
The uprising in Syria has also led to an increase in draft-dodging by young Syrians who had otherwise planned to join the army. One defector stated “I couldn’t go because the army is supposed to protect people, but all this army does is protect Assad.” Finally, Bassel Shahade, an aspiring Syrian filmmaker, was killed last week in Homs while filming the ongoing violence.