Tunisia’s PM reshuffles cabinet to tackle economic crisis

Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed speaks at the Assembly of People's Representatives in Tunis, Tunisia November 18, 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Tunisia’s PM reshuffles cabinet to tackle economic crisis

  • Chahed will make changes to at least six portfolios, including Tourism, Energy, Health and Transport, one of the sources said

TUNIS: Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed named 10 new ministers on Monday in a cabinet reshuffle he hopes will inject fresh blood into his government which has been widely criticised for failing to fix an economic crisis.
Key portfolios such as finance, foreign and the interior ministries were kept unchanged.
Since the toppling of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia’s economy has been in crisis and nine cabinets have failed to resolve economic problems, including high inflation and unemployment.
Chahed named businessman Jewish Rene Trabelsi as minister of tourism, only the third member of the small minority of 2,000 Jews to enter a cabinet since Tunisia's independence in 1956.
A former foreign minister under Ben Ali, Kamel Morjan, became minister in charge of the public service, the country's main employer.
"This reshuffle is to make the work of government more effective and to put an end to the political and economic crisis," Chahed said in a statement.
Impatience has been rising among lenders such as the International Monetary Fund, which have kept the country afloat with billions of dollars in loans.
The reshuffle came amid a political crisis as the president's son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, who is leader of the ruling party Nidaa Tounes, called for the dismissal of Chahed because of his government’s failure to revive the economy.
In a sign of the distrust inside the ruling party, President Beji Caid Essebsi rejected the resuffle as he had been informed too late about it without prior consultation, his spokeswoman Saida Garrach said.
Essebsi cannot stop the reshuffle. It needs to be approved by parliament where Chahed has assembled a majority of lawmakers backing him.
Nidaa Tounes rules with moderates who have backed Chahed.
Its demand has been supported by the powerful UGTT union which has also opposed Chahed's plans to overhaul loss-making public companies.
Tunisia has been hailed for its democratic transition since 2011 but the North African country has been hit by economic crisis and militant attacks since then.


Iran vows to keep military forces in Syria despite Israeli threats

Updated 17 January 2019
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Iran vows to keep military forces in Syria despite Israeli threats

  • Israel says it has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guards’ top commander called Israeli PM Netanyahu’s threats “a joke”

LONDON: Iran will keep military forces in Syria, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday, defying Israeli threats that they might be targeted if they do not leave the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israeli forces would continue to attack Iranians in Syria and warned them “to get out of there fast, because we will continue with our resolute policy.”

Rebuffing the threats, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guards’ top commander, was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency that “the Islamic Republic of Iran will keep all its military and revolutionary advisers and its weapons in Syria.”

Jafari called Netanyahu’s threats “a joke,” and warned that the Israeli government “was playing with (a) lion’s tail.”

“You should be afraid of the day that our precision-guided missiles roar and fall on your head,” he said.

Iran and Russia have both backed Syria’s Bashar Assad in a seven-year war against opposition and militants, and have sent thousands of soldiers to the country.

Israel, increasingly concerned that its enemy Iran may establish a long-term military presence in neighboring Syria, says it has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israeli warplanes carried out an attack on what he called an Iranian arms cache in Syria.