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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs