News / Middle East

Leader of Syria's Fragmented Opposition to Resign

Burhan Ghalioun, head of the opposition Syrian National Council, speaks during a news conference with Italy's Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata in Rome, May 13, 2012. Burhan Ghalioun, head of the opposition Syrian National Council, speaks during a news conference with Italy's Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata in Rome, May 13, 2012.
x
Burhan Ghalioun, head of the opposition Syrian National Council, speaks during a news conference with Italy's Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata in Rome, May 13, 2012.
Burhan Ghalioun, head of the opposition Syrian National Council, speaks during a news conference with Italy's Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata in Rome, May 13, 2012.

Syria's fragmented opposition has suffered a further setback, with the newly re-elected head of the main exiled coalition offering to resign due to criticism of his leadership and infighting that has plagued groups trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

 

Syrian National Council chief Burhan Ghalioun said Thursday he does not want to be a cause of division in the opposition coalition and will step down as soon as a replacement is chosen through consensus or election. 

 

The Paris-based secular academic has served as SNC leader since its formation last year and was elected Tuesday to another three-month term by a majority of SNC members who attended a meeting in Rome.  Ghalioun promised to stay active in the group after his resignation. 

 



The SNC's Paris-based head of foreign relations Bassma Kodmani told VOA that leaders of the body planned to meet later on Thursday to make a quick decision about how to elect a new council president. 

 

Leadership Crisis: Shortcoming or Opportunity

 

Analysts say the SNC's leadership dispute highlights a major shortcoming of the Syrian opposition movement: a continued lack of unity in its battle to end Mr. Assad's 11-year rule.  But, in a phone interview with VOA, Kodmani said the leadership transition is an "opportunity" for the SNC to refocus its efforts on what she called its original purpose of serving the activists at the front line of the uprising inside Syria. 

 

Western and Arab nations supporting the uprising have long urged the SNC to heal its divisions and present a credible alternative to the Assad government.  But a series of prominent dissidents has quit the SNC in recent months, with some complaining that Islamists hold too much influence over the group. 

 

Kodmani said the SNC will try to limit the influence of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood by finding a balance in its membership that reflects Syria's political, religious and ethnic diversity. 

 

Activist Network Demands Reform

 

Earlier Thursday, a faction of the SNC threatened to quit unless the organization restructures itself.  The Local Coordination Committees accused SNC leaders of failing to cooperate with revolutionaries inside Syria and marginalizing young members of the organization.  The LCC is an activist network whose members are mostly Syria-based. 

 

The Local Coordination Committees' representative to the SNC told VOA that Ghalioun's offer to resign is a "step in the right direction" of reforming the opposition coalition.  Speaking by phone from Berlin, Hozan Ibrahim said the SNC also should channel more money to youths and revolutionaries engaged in relief work and protests inside Syria. 

 

Ibrahim said the LCC suspended its involvement in SNC meetings last month and will withdraw completely if reforms are not implemented.  But, he downplayed the significance of such a move, saying the LCC has a limited interest in politics and could still support the organization from the outside. 

 

The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have been killed in violence related to the anti-government uprising that erupted more than a year ago. 


Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous from: America
May 17, 2012 9:45 PM
The change in format should make articles more accessible to readers across the world.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid