Egypt’s president will swear in new cabinet Thursday

Egypt’s new cabinet will be announced and sworn in today after a partial list of ministers was released on Wednesday. The cabinet will be the first for President Mohamed Morsi, a senior Muslim Brotherhood official, who was elected in June. Morsi tasked his recently appointed Prime Minister, Hisham Qandil, a little-known former irrigation minister, with ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Egypt's new cabinet will be announced and sworn in today after a partial list of ministers was released on Wednesday. The cabinet will be the first for President Mohamed Morsi, a senior Muslim Brotherhood official, who was elected in June. Morsi tasked his recently appointed Prime Minister, Hisham Qandil, a little-known former irrigation minister, with forming the new cabinet. State media released the names of 20 appointees, which suggests Qandil's government will be mainly technocrats. Muslim Brotherhood members will fill the posts of higher education and the housing ministries. The finance minister and foreign minister from the SCAF transition cabinet will keep their posts, and the current assistant interior minister, Major General Ahmed Jamal al-Din, was asked to be interior minister. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will be allowed to select the defense minister, which is set to be SCAF head, Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. The justice minister will be former appeal court judge Ahmed Mekky, who had been vocal against vote rigging during the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak. Another prominent position, the post of minister of religious endowments, will go to the president of al-Azhar University, Osama al-Abd, despite speculation that an ultraconservative Salafist cleric would be appointed. The Salafi al Nour Party claimed it was promised three prominent posts, in addition to the vice presidency. Having only been offered the position of environmental minister, al Nour has decided to boycott the new government.   

Syria

Syrian government forces killed an estimated 70 people in door-to-door raids near Damascus. Syrian television reported, "dozens of terrorists surrendered or were killed in operations," while opposition activists claim people were summarily executed. The accusations came a day after opposition fighters appeared to be conducting similar execution style killings in videos. Meanwhile, opposition commanders said they captured a Syrian army tank and attacked the Menagh airbase, believed to be used as a staging area for army reinforcements. The base is located between Aleppo and an opposition held town near the border with Turkey. Though the opposition reportedly retreated, this would be one of the first known instances of the opposition's use of heavy weaponry. Fierce clashes continue in Aleppo, with a government bombardment of Salahedinne. However the army has not made a widespread push for the city, and the opposition maintains concentrated control of various regions. The United States has agreed to a more direct role in the conflict as President Barack Obama signed a secret order authorizing support for the Syrian opposition fighters. The order will allow the CIA and other U.S. agencies to offer assistance that could help the opposition in their efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Egypt’s new cabinet will be announced and sworn in today after a partial list of ministers was released on Wednesday. The cabinet will be the first for President Mohamed Morsi, a senior Muslim Brotherhood official, who was elected in June. Morsi tasked his recently appointed Prime Minister, Hisham Qandil, a little-known former irrigation minister, with forming the new cabinet. State media released the names of 20 appointees, which suggests Qandil’s government will be mainly technocrats. Muslim Brotherhood members will fill the posts of higher education and the housing ministries. The finance minister and foreign minister from the SCAF transition cabinet will keep their posts, and the current assistant interior minister, Major General Ahmed Jamal al-Din, was asked to be interior minister. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will be allowed to select the defense minister, which is set to be SCAF head, Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. The justice minister will be former appeal court judge Ahmed Mekky, who had been vocal against vote rigging during the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak. Another prominent position, the post of minister of religious endowments, will go to the president of al-Azhar University, Osama al-Abd, despite speculation that an ultraconservative Salafist cleric would be appointed. The Salafi al Nour Party claimed it was promised three prominent posts, in addition to the vice presidency. Having only been offered the position of environmental minister, al Nour has decided to boycott the new government.   

Syria

Syrian government forces killed an estimated 70 people in door-to-door raids near Damascus. Syrian television reported, "dozens of terrorists surrendered or were killed in operations," while opposition activists claim people were summarily executed. The accusations came a day after opposition fighters appeared to be conducting similar execution style killings in videos. Meanwhile, opposition commanders said they captured a Syrian army tank and attacked the Menagh airbase, believed to be used as a staging area for army reinforcements. The base is located between Aleppo and an opposition held town near the border with Turkey. Though the opposition reportedly retreated, this would be one of the first known instances of the opposition’s use of heavy weaponry. Fierce clashes continue in Aleppo, with a government bombardment of Salahedinne. However the army has not made a widespread push for the city, and the opposition maintains concentrated control of various regions. The United States has agreed to a more direct role in the conflict as President Barack Obama signed a secret order authorizing support for the Syrian opposition fighters. The order will allow the CIA and other U.S. agencies to offer assistance that could help the opposition in their efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Headlines  

  • Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy warned if he were Iranian he "would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks" after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met with Israeli leaders over heightened concerns Israel is planning a strike on Iran.
  • At least 16 people have died in clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in the Egyptian town of Dahshur after a Muslim mob attempted to set a church on fire.

Arguments & Analysis 

Syrian Paradox: The Regime Gets Stronger, Even as It Loses Its Grip‘ (Tony Karon, Time Magazine)

"Not only has the Assad regime survived an unprecedented assault, the ICG argues, but it also is no longer the Assad regime of February 2011 – and the rebellion challenging it also may have morphed into something quite different from the uprising that began last year. As a result, stakeholders looking to end the crisis are in urgent need of some thinking that goes beyond speculating whether Assad will go the way of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, or any other autocrat felled during the past year’s Arab rebellion. Syria’s trajectory will be very different."

A Crass and Consequential Error‘ (Roger Cohen, New York Review of Books)

"Muhammad Mossadegh, the Iranian prime minister overthrown by US and British agents in 1953, was a man who declined a salary, returned gifts, and collected tax arrears from his beloved mother. Frugality was allied to punctiliousness in this droopy-nosed aristocrat who enraged the West by insisting that Iran, not Britain, should own, sell, and profit from Iranian oil. A member of the princely Qajar family, he retained a noblesse-oblige gentility even as he became the symbol of postwar Iranian assertiveness. He fainted, he swooned-and was often pajama-clad. When he saw a hole, he had an irrepressible inclination to dig deeper. High principle trumped judicious compromise too often for Mossadegh to be a successful politician."

Kill or Capture‘ (Steve Coll, The New Yorker)

"On September 30, 2011, in a northern province of Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and a senior figure in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, finished his breakfast and walked with several companions to vehicles parked nearby. Before he could drive away, a missile fired from a drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency struck the group and killed Awlaki, as well as a second American citizen, of Pakistani origin, whom the drone operators did not realize was present."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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