As part of the resignation of the Syrian government cabinet, President Bashar al-Assad has named outgoing Prime Minister Muhammad Naji Otari as caretaker prime minister until a new government is named, the state-controlled Syrian news agency stated.
Meanwhile, Assad himself (who is not expected to resign), will appoint a new government within 24 hours and spell out some changes in policy, including lifting the emergency laws that Syria has been under for 48 years and perhaps legalize other political parties.
According to a BBC correspondent in Damascus, the proposed changed will be “beyond expectations.”
However, skeptics point out that the Syrian government has little real power and cabinet reshuffles have frequently occurred. For example, since the time Otari has been prime minister (September 2003), the cabinet has been changed four times.
The real power is with Assad, his family and the feared state security forces.
Moreover, Damascus is witnessing raucous pro-government rallies in support of Assad.
However, tensions against the government are boiling over in cities like Deraa and Latakia, where state security forces have shot and killed dozens of protesters. Reportedly, anti-Assad forces plan more demonstrations on Friday.
About a dozen people died in unrest over the weekend and at least 60 have been killed since the anti-government protests began.
Syria has been ruled by the Baath Party since 1963 when it imposed emergence laws. These laws effectively suspend constitutional and civil rights and give the state security and police extraordinary powers to arrest and detain people.
The government has long explained that emergency laws were needed because of the threats posed by terrorists, militants as well as the official ”state of war” with Israel.