News / Middle East

Syrian Liberals Boycott Opposition Coalition over PM Choice

Syrian communications executive Ghassan Hitto (L), is congratulated late on March 18, 2013 in Istanbul after Syria's main opposition National Council elected him as prime minister.Syrian communications executive Ghassan Hitto (L), is congratulated late on March 18, 2013 in Istanbul after Syria's main opposition National Council elected him as prime minister.
x
Syrian communications executive Ghassan Hitto (L), is congratulated late on March 18, 2013 in Istanbul after Syria's main opposition National Council elected him as prime minister.
Syrian communications executive Ghassan Hitto (L), is congratulated late on March 18, 2013 in Istanbul after Syria's main opposition National Council elected him as prime minister.
Reuters
Nine people suspended their membership in the Syrian National Coalition, the main political grouping opposing President Bashar al-Assad, on Wednesday, one day after it named an Islamist-backed candidate as provisional prime minister.
 
The coalition was formed with Western and Gulf Arab backing in Qatar last year to bring together Assad's disparate political foes and build an alternative government structure to replace his rule. But after a brief period of harmony, divisions have racked the group.
 
Its liberal minority accused the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, who include a handful of Christians, of assuming control of the coalition.
 
After a meeting in Istanbul, the coalition on Tuesday chose Western-educated exile Ghassan Hitto, little known in Syria, as provisional prime minister. Hitto easily defeated Asaad Mustafa, a former agriculture minister, who was thought to be favored by Saudi Arabia.
 
Hitto was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood and coalition Secretary General Mustafa Sabbagh, who has strong links with Gulf Arab states, according to sources at the meeting.
 
With Islamists dominating the coalition, the West has been lukewarm about it forming an opposition “government”; instead, the main outside push for the idea has come from Qatar, according to diplomats and sources in the opposition.
 
“The Muslim Brotherhood, with the backing of Qatar, have imposed their prime minister candidate. We will keep away if the coalition does not reconsider its choice,” veteran opposition campaigner Walid al-Bunni told Reuters.
 
Hitto could not be reached for comment.
 
Bunni is a senior figure in the group of nine, which also includes coalition Vice President Suhair al-Atassi, and opposition campaigner Rima Fuleihan, two of the three women in the 62-member coalition.
 
The group said in a statement the coalition's decisions were becoming dictated from outside and that democratic principles were not being honored. Atassi said she did not accept being what she termed a proxy for foreign powers.
 
Politburo
 
On Wednesday, the coalition chose an 11-member politburo to replace a previous body that had functioned in a temporary capacity.
 
The new politburo, still headed by coalition President Moaz Alkhatib, a moderate Islamist cleric, contains several little known figures, according to coalition sources.
A rivalry between Alkhatib and Hitto will be hard to avoid, opposition sources say, as Hitto aims to form a cabinet by the end of this month that would include a foreign minister, a role Alkhatib had carried out as head of the coalition.
 
“After Hitto forms a government, the coalition will be finished,” said one source in the coalition.
 
If Alkhatib is undermined, the uprising could lose an influential advocate for moderation untainted by association with outside powers, his supporters say.
 
In February, Alkhatib said he would be prepared to negotiate with certain members of the Assad government, a move that upset many parts of the coalition. Hitto said on Tuesday there would be “no dialogue with the Assadist regime.”
 
In a speech to the coalition on Tuesday, Alkhatib condemned countries he did not name for funding what he described as extremist groups fighting in Syria.
 
“Syria has become scene of a regional bone crunching,” Alkhatib said. “We tell everyone to get out of our land and the Syrian people will find its way by itself.”

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid