News / Middle East

    Syrian Opposition Elects Interim 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.
    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.
    VOA News
    The opposition Syrian National Coalition has chosen U.S.-educated former businessman Ghassan Hitto as provisional prime minister to administer the areas rebels have seized from Syrian government forces.   

    Shortly after being elected, the American-educated IT manager and Islamic activist outlined his plans at a news conference.

    He said our top priority is to use all conceivable means to topple the Assad regime, and to provide basic necessities and services to provide dignified life to our people in Syria.

    The new opposition prime minister is working on creating an interim government, which he says will operate inside rebel-controlled areas of Syria.

    Hitto promised the new government would be committed to defending the diverse social fabric of Syria. He also is looking to the international community for official recognition as the legitimate authority for Syria.

    "I call on the international community to live up to its responsibilities," he said, "starting with granting the interim government of its seat in the United Nations and other international organizations, whereby the interim government can take control of Syria's embassies."

    More than 100 countries have recognized the opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, including the United States, Britain, France and Turkey.

    Hitto also called for an unfreezing of Syrian assets, now blocked by a number of Western sanctions, and their transfer to the interim government.

    Several opposition factions involved in actual fighting inside Syria are reported to have boycotted the vote that elected Hitto, criticizing him for lack of military experience.

    But the head of the Free Syrian Army, General Salim Idris, said that force would respect the legitimacy of the new prime minister.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday reiterated his call for a political solution "while there is still time to prevent Syria's complete destruction."

    Hitto was born in Damascus, the Syrian capital. Little known in Syria, Hitto has lived in the United States for more than two decades, most recently in Texas. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

    • Gas cylinders are displayed for sale on a street in Aleppo, March 24, 2013.
    • A man sells clothes in Aleppo March 24, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters carry weapons while walking down a debris-filled street in Aleppo March 19, 2013.
    • This citizen journalism image provided by the Aleppo Media Center shows Syrians searching for dead bodies in the rubble of buildings hit by Syrian airstrikes, Aleppo, March 20, 2013.
    • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma visit families of students killed during clashes between forces loyal to him and their opponents in Damascus in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA on March 20, 2013.
    • Residents and medics transport a Syrian Army soldier, wounded in what they said was a chemical weapon attack near Aleppo, to a hospital, March 19, 2013.
    • People wounded in what the Syrian government said was a chemical weapons attack breathe through oxygen masks as they are treated at a hospital in Aleppo, March 19, 2013.
    • Girls paint their faces with colors of the Syrian revolutionary flag during a fesitval, in Aleppo, Syria, March 20, 2013.
    • A citizen journalism image of black smoke rising from a building hit by Syrian government shelling, Aleppo, March 19, 2013.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Michael from: USA
    March 19, 2013 8:20 AM
    The opposition council is among those involved in decisions about offensive attack operations, which by necessity informs any chance at a truce as it glances at a future filled with war. Contingently, on the other hand, would be directed to studying how to prevent further civilian deaths by avoiding those areas where inhabitants exist

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora