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

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.
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.
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