A temporary SNC govt, but leadership still disputed

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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“He has Kurdish origins and was born in Damascus; this allow him to create good relations with all Syrian communities... He could become the best mediator in resolving unsettled issues because he belongs to more than one community,” says President of the Syrian National Coalition Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib, describing the bloc’s newly-elected interim Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto.

We do not expect from the Syrian opposition in exile to quarrel between each of its parties but we do not expected from it as well, to help the regime and expand the conflict

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Khatib’s opinion of him is optimistic and retorts criticisms against him. A number of coalition leaders resigned in protest against the election of Hitto. This perhaps reinforces the idea, which Syrian authorities have been prompting, that the opposition’s sole interest is power, and that the bloc will fight for it.

The members have disagreed on the hierarchy and authority of positions at the SNC. They have also disagreed over the presidency of the National Council that emerged from the National Coalition, which in turn led to the interim government. They then disputed Hitto’s election. There were other attempts for similar entities such as the “Revolution’s Board of Trustees,” which announced a transitional government that soon died, a day after the announcement.

Inside the Syrian opposition

Within the coalition that represents all the Syrian opposition’s groups, there are sixteen teams representing the Syrians communities and groups; some of them are under the boards and unions. This gives us a clearer picture of the difficulties in the management of the Syrian opposition as it raises concerns about the future of Syria after toppling Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Those who have followed up with the history of countries that have witnessed similar stages of unrest will find the Syrian crisis pictured under the usual scenario. The Syrian regime has marginalized all sides in the country for forty years, and when they re-emerged after the start of the revolution, it was normal to see that they are now competing against each other.

I draw parallels with Iraq, because during the period between the defeat of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from 1991 until 2003, just before the U.S.-led war on Iraq began, the country’s opposition encountered disputes that lasted for twelve years.

We do not expect from the Syrian opposition in exile to quarrel between each of its parties but we do not expected from it as well, to help the regime and expand the conflict. The most important issue is to work on a political regime that is fair and that abides to the Syrian people in order to choose the president and officials, and this is not the time for it yet.

I do not know if Ghassan Hitto as the president of the Syrian interim government, is really the right choice or not; it is too early to judge him before he performs his responsibilities for a few months. We must remember that if any other Syrian candidate was chosen, he would have faced vetoes and withdrawals! Since there is no fair mechanism to represent the Syrian people in the coalition’s election, and since it is impossible under the current circumstances, those who have faith in the rebellious Syrian people’s cause must accept the majority’s choice that voted for Hitto that day.

It is a symbolic choice that shows that the future Syria is able to embrace all its citizens regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliation. This choice is a message to the sectarian Syrians who are loyal to the revolution, as well as to the Syrians who are against the revolution. It is a message to the world, reacting to those who do not believe in the people's demands to overthrow Assad but rather consider it a Sunni movement against Alawite governors and terrorist groups. It is an image that diminishes the reality behind the Syrian revolution that is waged against a brutal regime that has ruled the country for 40 years with an iron fist.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 23, 2013.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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