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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
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 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.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid