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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid