News / Middle East

Syrians Postpone Selection of Opposition Prime Minister

Syria opposition still not settled on when and how to establish a transitional government to replace Assad regime.

Progress in rebel efforts to create alternative government has been stalled by some in Syrian National Coalition who believe another route to peace may be achieved by UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, shown here with Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Mouallem. on September 13, 2012. (AP)Progress in rebel efforts to create alternative government has been stalled by some in Syrian National Coalition who believe another route to peace may be achieved by UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, shown here with Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Mouallem. on September 13, 2012. (AP)
x
Progress in rebel efforts to create alternative government has been stalled by some in Syrian National Coalition who believe another route to peace may be achieved by UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, shown here with Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Mouallem. on September 13, 2012. (AP)
Progress in rebel efforts to create alternative government has been stalled by some in Syrian National Coalition who believe another route to peace may be achieved by UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, shown here with Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Mouallem. on September 13, 2012. (AP)
David Arnold
The Syrian opposition has once again postponed choosing a prime minister to lead a provisional government that would replace the 42-year-old regime headed by incumbent president, Bashar al-Assad.
 
Officials said the Syrian National Coalition postponed the vote, scheduled for Tuesday, because opposition factions in Qatar and Turkey were still debating the timing of creating a transitional administration.
 
“We postponed the meeting because we need more discussion,” the coalition’s spokesman, Walid al-Bunni, told VOA Monday. He said the election to choose a prime minister will now be held no later than March 20. 
 
The major point of disagreement is whether to choose a new government now or wait to see if U.N. negotiations can offer a political solution. “That’s the main problem,” Bunni said.
 
Faction hopes for UN negotiation
 
Some opposition leaders have argued that a quick decision was needed to prevent the two-year civil war from turning Syria into a failed state with separate regions ruled by rival military factions. Other opposition factions have been looking for a political solution to come from the negotiations led by the U.N.-Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi.
 
The prospect of a political solution to the civil war has been an ongoing undercurrent in opposition politics. The chairman of the opposition coalition, Moaz Al-Khatib, made his own unilateral offer to negotiate with the Assad regime in January, but he was criticized by other coalition leaders.
 
Brahimi, who has shuttled between Damascus, Moscow and other world capitals pushing for a negotiated settlement over the past six months, praised Khatib’s initiative.
 
However, previous efforts to draw Assad into negotiations have failed. Assad has agreed to three ceasefires -- two with the U.N. and one with the Arab League -- but no ceasefire has resulted.
 
The elephant in the room that nobody talks about is who’s going to fund it?
The opposition inside Syria has been highly critical of the U.N. efforts, claiming that the failed ceasefires have only given the regime more time to prosecute the war with air and armored attacks on rebel-held regions. The U.N. estimates the past two years of fighting have killed more than 70,000, forced about a million refugees into neighboring countries and left more than 2 million displaced inside Syria.
 
Follow the money
 
Despite their differences with the U.N. effort and each other, all the Syrian opposition factions insist that any transitional government and its prime minister will need major financial backing if it is to succeed.
 
“The elephant in the room that nobody talks about is who’s going to fund it,” said Amr al-Azm, a professor of Middle East history in Ohio who stays in close touch with the opposition leadership in his native Syria.
 
“You put a government together and it’s got to have money,” says Azm. “Whoever gets selected as the next government body entity, are they going to have access to proper funds or not? If they don’t have access to those funds, then it’s nonsense.”
 
Funding questions also stymied the first of Syria’s umbrella of opposition forces, the Syrian National Council. The Council’s leaders were reluctant to form an opposition government unless they had major support from the international community.
 
Recently, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been singled out as potential financial backers for a replacement government in Damascus.
 
The Council is now part of the overall Syrian National Coalition and has close ties to Turkey. The link to Qatar, according to Azm, is through the Coalition’s secretary-general, Mustafa Sabbagh.
 
His (Khatib's) constituency is actually outside on the ground which makes him quite valuable
“And then you have Moaz al-Khatib floating on top of all of that, with no real constituency within the coalition,” Azm said. As a Damascus cleric who left Syria just over a year ago, Khatib, now the Coalition’s chairman, remains a major force in the coalition.
 
“His constituency is actually outside on the ground which makes him quite valuable,” Azm says of Khatib’s support from the demonstrators who initiated the protests for reform that turned into an armed rebellion.
 
Names being discussed for prime minister
 
Coalition rules prohibit members from running for prime minister, but several potential candidates began campaigning when a front-runner, Syria’s former foreign minister, Riad Hijab, withdrew from the race.
 
Salem al-Moslet, 55, is one of three potential candidates for prime minister from among the old Syria National Council grouping. Moslet served as the council’s leader of Syria’s tribal groups. The other two Council candidates are Burhan Ghalioun and Osama Al-Qadi.
 
Ghalioun, now a sociology professor at the University of Paris, was a president of the Council until forced to resign in a dispute with other Council factions.
 
Qadi, a native of Aleppo, is now president of Concordia College of Canada and founded a non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
March 12, 2013 7:59 PM
UN Negotiations with Bashar al Assad??? He is a criminal, who has killed thousands of Syrians with aerial bombardments, tanks, and snipers. There should be no dealing with Bashar al Assad, he should be arrested and held accountable to the New Syrian judicial system which would likely serve him several thousand death penalties for the thousands and thousands he has killed.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More