News

Latest News

Imprisoning Democracy

Have your say


Newspaper


Back to index

Syrian opposition split over new prime minister

20-03-2013

DW.DE:

After agonizing debate, the Syrian opposition has agreed on a transitional prime minister. He has been tasked with building a "new Syria" in the regions controlled by the anti-government rebels.


Dozens of representatives from the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) elected Ghassan Hitto (pictured above) the new prime minister of the anti-Assad rebels on Tuesday in Istanbul, despite strong opposition to his candidacy in some quarters of the SNC.

The 50-year-old Hitto received 35 out of 49 votes. The computer expert is a naturalized American citizen who lived in the United States for decades. He faces the difficult task of building government institutions in the regions of northern and eastern Syrian under rebel control, in pre

Dozens of representatives from the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) elected Ghassan Hitto (pictured above) the new prime minister of the anti-Assad rebels on Tuesday in Istanbul, despite strong opposition to his candidacy in some quarters of the SNC.

The 50-year-old Hitto received 35 out of 49 votes. The computer expert is a naturalized American citizen who lived in the United States for decades. He faces the difficult task of building government institutions in the regions of northern and eastern Syria under rebel control, in preparation for a possible regime change in Damascus.

“He really has a lot to do,” former Syrian agricultural minister Assad Asseq Mustafa, who lost to Hitto in the vote, told DW.

Syrian premier with US passport

Some factions within the SNC doubt that Hitto will be able to master the problems facing the opposition. Some delegates tried to postpone the election, while others simply left the meeting before the vote occurred.

Hitto has never led a government institution, let alone in the middle of a civil war. He also has no military experience, although he is now the commander-in-chief of the armed rebel groups fighting against President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria.

Some SNC delegates called for the vote to be postponed, while others simply left before the election

Some critics are uneasy with the fact that the Damascus-born Hitto lived in the US for decades, has an American passport and gave up a managerial position in Texas as recently as last year to devote himself to the fight against the Assad regime.

“Some people have a problem with it,” a delegate said. But in the end, Hitto – described as a pious Muslim – was able to win the vote due to the support of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood. Faruk Tayfur, a leading member of the Brotherhood, praised Hitto’s election as a “very good step.”

SNC plays down divisions

Halit Hoca, a SNC representative in Turkey, played down the internal dissent. Hoca said that for the first time in recent Syrian history, a democratic election took place. He argued that Hitto’s critics were simply having a “democratic reaction” to the vote. And according to Hoca, Hitto’s team will be made up of experienced people who have direct on-the-ground experience in Syria.

The new prime minister will need experienced advisors, since he is largely unknown within Syria. But SNC representatives emphasized that during his time in the US, Hitto regularly traveled to Syria and members of his family remain in the country. His son Obaida is currently fighting with the rebels. Nevertheless, some delegates expressed reservations about Hitto’s lack of experience.

Need to show unity

Despite the criticism within the SNC, Hitto will need to project an image of unity to the rest of the world, in order to improve the reputation of a hopelessly divided opposition. In recent months, many efforts to build a transitional government have failed. The meeting that took place in Istanbul on Tuesday had been postponed twice.

Hitto is aware of the doubts about the Syrian opposition in the Western and Arab worlds. In his inaugural speech, he demanded more support from the international community, while taking a clear stance against extremism. He emphasized that all Syrians are equal, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, sex or regional heritage. Now he will have to prove that he can implement those values in the “liberated regions.”

“He really has a lot to do,” former Syrian agricultural minister Assad Asseq Mustafa, who lost to Hitto in the vote, told DW.

Syrian premier with US passport

Some factions within the SNC doubt that Hitto will be able to master the problems facing the opposition. Some delegates tried to postpone the election, while others simply left the meeting before the vote occurred.

Hitto has never led a government institution, let alone in the middle of a civil war. He also has no military experience, although he is now the commander-in-chief of the armed rebel groups fighting against President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria.

Some critics are uneasy with the fact that the Damascus-born Hitto lived in the US for decades, has an American passport and gave up a managerial position in Texas as recently as last year to devote himself to the fight against the Assad regime.

“Some people have a problem with it,” a delegate said. But in the end, Hitto – described as a pious Muslim – was able to win the vote due to the support of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood. Faruk Tayfur, a leading member of the Brotherhood, praised Hitto’s election as a “very good step.”

SNC plays down divisions

Halit Hoca, a SNC representative in Turkey, played down the internal dissent. Hoca said that for the first time in recent Syrian history, a democratic election took place. He argued that Hitto’s critics were simply having a “democratic reaction” to the vote. And according to Hoca, Hitto’s team will be made up of experienced people who have direct on-the-ground experience in Syria.

The new prime minister will need experienced advisors, since he is largely unknown within Syria. But SNC representatives emphasized that during his time in the US, Hitto regularly traveled to Syria and members of his family remain in the country. His son Obaida is currently fighting with the rebels. Nevertheless, some delegates expressed reservations about Hitto’s lack of experience.

Need to show unity

Despite the criticism within the SNC, Hitto will need to project an image of unity to the rest of the world, in order to improve the reputation of a hopelessly divided opposition. In recent months, many efforts to build a transitional government have failed. The meeting that took place in Istanbul on Tuesday had been postponed twice.

Hitto is aware of the doubts about the Syrian opposition in the Western and Arab worlds. In his inaugural speech, he demanded more support from the international community, while taking a clear stance against extremism. He emphasized that all Syrians are equal, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, sex or regional heritage. Now he will have to prove that he can implement those values in the “liberated regions


http://www.dw.de/syrian-opposition-split-over-new-prime-minister/a-16684658

Email this story to a friend | Printable Version

 

Latest News


Other News from Middle East section


Palestine   Advertise Here
  Prayer Times

News and Views of Muslims in the United Kingdom