Assad sacks Syrian regime prime minister following protests
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sacked his prime minister, Imad Khamis, a statement from the Syrian regime's presidency account stated on Thursday.
"President Assad issues decree number 143 for year 2020 which relieves the prime minister Imad Muhammad Dib Khamis of his position," the statement said.
Syria is suffering from a major economic crisis and the value of the country’s currency has plummeted to unprecedented levels.
The black market exchange rate is now around 3,000 Syrian pounds to the dollar, while an estimated 80 percent of Syrians live in poverty.
Protests have broken out in several regime-controlled areas on a level not seen for several years, notably in Suweida in southern Syria.
Hundreds of anti-regime demonstrators have taken to the streets over the past five days, chanting slogans against Bashar al-Assad.
The regime has blamed US sanctions, passed under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, for the economic crisis.
The sanctions were imposed in response to atrocities committed against political detainees and other civilians and target anyone providing significant material or financial support to the regime.
However, analysts have noted that the Syrian regime's main foreign backers, Iran and Russia, have been unable to provide it with financial support recently.
They have also blamed corruption and in-fighting within the regime for the crisis.
Assad has fallen out with his cousin, Rami Makhlouf, over control of Syria’s assets.
Makhlouf previously ran a business empire in the country based on a system of alleged patronage and corruption, controlling significant stakes in Syria's telecommunications, oil, and hospitality industries. He is now rumoured to have fled abroad.
In April, the Russian news agency FAN-RIA, which is close to President Vladimir Putin published a series of reports criticising corruption within the regime and Assad’s inability to stop it.
Imad Khamis was singled out for criticism and FAN-RIA said that he presided over a corrupt government which made it impossible for Russian firms to operate in the country. The articles were later deleted from the agency's website.