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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
10DAMASCUS68 2010-01-20 03:28:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Damascus
Cable title:  

ONE NEW FACE IN ASAD'S CHOICES FOR STATE PLANNING

Tags:   ECON EFIN EINV KPAO PGOV PREL SOCI SY 
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VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0068 0200328
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 200328Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7268
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0866
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0820
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
					C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 000068 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ELA, NEA/FO, EEB/EX, EEB/ESC/TFS, L/EB
COMMERCE FOR BIS/SONDERMAN/CHRISTINO
NSC FOR SHAPIRO/MCDERMOTT
TREASURY FOR HAJJAR/CURTIN
PARIS FOR NOBLES
LONDON FOR LORD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/19/2020
TAGS: ECON EFIN EINV KPAO PGOV PREL SOCI SY
SUBJECT: ONE NEW FACE IN ASAD'S CHOICES FOR STATE PLANNING
COMMISSION, MINISTRY OF ECONOMY

REF: DAMASCUS 037

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Chuck Hunter for reasons 1.4(b,d)

-------
Summary
-------



1. (C) In a move to rapidly fill a gap at the State Planning
Commission (SPC) following the ouster of SPC Head Dr. Taysir
Raddawi (reftel), President Bashar al-Asad appointed on
January 18 the current Minister of Economy and Trade, Amer
Hosni Lutfi, as head of the SPC. Asad also selected Syria's
Ambassador to Malaysia, Lamia al-Assi, to replace Lutfi as
Minister of Economy and Trade. Lutfi assumes control of the
SPC at a critical time in the development cycle of the
eleventh Five-year Plan that will take effect on January 1,


2011. These moves are seen as a victory for economic
conservatives in the SARG. End Summary.



--------------------------


New Focus at SPC, Ministry of Economy


--------------------------





2. (SBU) The SARG announced on January 18 that President
al-Asad had chosen Amer Hosni Lutfi, the current Minister of
Economy and Trade, to head the State Planning Commission and
had selected Syria's Ambassador to Malaysia, Lamia al-Assi,
to replace Lutfi as Minister of Economy and Trade. Lutfi, a
Christian from Homs, is a trained economist who received his
Ph.D. in Economics in Brussels. A Ba'ath party member, he
has been Minister of Economy and Trade since October 2004.



3. (SBU) Assi has served as the Syrian Ambassador to Malaysia
since 2004. Prior to her posting to Malaysia she was the
Deputy Minister of Finance for IT Affairs from 2002 until


2004. Assi, one of three women in the cabinet, will be the
first woman to serve as the Minister of Economy and Trade.



--------------------------


Win for Ba'athists


--------------------------





4. (SBU) Local media reported that Lutfi was expected to be
less critical of Deputy PM for Economic Affairs Abdullah
al-Dardari than Dardari's archrival Raddawi because the new
team's economic philosophies were market-based like
Dardari's. However, observers noted it may be difficult for
Lutfi, a dedicated Ba'athist, fully to support Dardari's
economic agenda for opening up the economy to more private
business and increased foreign investment. Assi's
appointment as Minister of Economy and Trade is viewed by
observers here as a win for conservative Minister of Finance
Mohammed al-Hussein since Assi had served as his deputy
minister for two years. (Note: Underscoring his conservative
credentials, Hussein is also head of Economic Affairs in the
Ba'ath Party. End note.)



5. (C) Comment: Following Asad's appointment of Dardari as
provisional head of the SPC after Raddawi's ouster, reftel
noted that whether Dardari served in the position on a
temporary basis or took control permanently would serve as a
barometer of whether the SARG had truly accepted Dardari's
liberal economic agenda. Lutfi's appointment to replace
Dardari now appears to be a win for the non-reformists and a
vote against a more liberal economic plan. An embassy
contact well acquainted with all the players told us that
Lutfi was a quiet, non-confrontational person who was not a
fighter and was more apt to toe the party line. Lutfi's
Ba'ath Party ties, coupled with Minister of Finance Hussein's
strong ties to the party, foretell a more conservative 11th
Five-year Plan less likely to rely heavily on foreign
investment.
HUNTER