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Tue Mar 19, 2013, 12:54 AM

US Citizen Is Picked as Syria Opposition's Prime Minister

Source: New York Times

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria’s main exile opposition coalition elected a naturalized Syrian-born American citizen early Tuesday to be the first prime minister of an interim Syrian government, charged with funneling aid to rebels inside Syria and offering an alternative to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr. Hitto, a relative unknown in opposition politics who rose to prominence recently through efforts to improve the delivery of humanitarian aid, was far from a unanimous choice. After a day of maneuvering and voting on Monday that lasted into early Tuesday, he won 35 votes, just three more than Assad Mustafa, a former agricultural minister under Mr. Assad’s father and predecessor, Hafez al-Assad.

Born in Damascus, Mr. Hitto left Syria in the early 1980s and received an M.B.A. at Indiana Wesleyan University. He is of Kurdish descent, which the council may have seen as a plus since it has been criticized for not reaching out more to Syria’s minorities.

Some council members said Mr. Hitto was the choice of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has long been banned and persecuted under the Assad family’s government and that plays a powerful role in the coalition. That could give him credibility among some in the Sunni Muslim-dominated uprising, but it also concerns some opposition members who feel the Brotherhood already wields disproportionate sway. Brotherhood leaders say they seek a civil, not an Islamic, state, but some in the opposition worry that it will impose a religious agenda.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/19/world/middleeast/syria-warplanes-hit-lebanon-for-first-time.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

10 replies, 1831 views

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply US Citizen Is Picked as Syria Opposition's Prime Minister (Original post)
cqo_000 Mar 2013 OP
azurnoir Mar 2013 #1
Jazzgirl Mar 2013 #2
tammywammy Mar 2013 #10
Arctic Dave Mar 2013 #3
kelliekat44 Mar 2013 #6
daleo Mar 2013 #4
fujiyama Mar 2013 #5
cqo_000 Mar 2013 #7
malaise Mar 2013 #8
cqo_000 Mar 2013 #9

Response to cqo_000 (Original post)

Tue Mar 19, 2013, 04:57 AM

1. well isn't this guy just a bit of radiance, seems like he has it all universal appeal

an American citizen and the choice of MB in Syria, and Kurdish too, so everyone's happy, right

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Response to cqo_000 (Original post)

Tue Mar 19, 2013, 11:33 AM

2. I have been searching for information on Hitto's background.

The only thing I can find is he was an executive with an IT firm here in Texas and his wife is a teacher. He has an M.B.A. but I couldn't find out what it's in. Information about his background is extremely vague to non-existent. That to me is probably the thing that stands out the most. Who is this guy??

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Response to Jazzgirl (Reply #2)

Mon Mar 25, 2013, 12:09 AM

10. A MBA isn't necessarily "in" anything

It's a Masters of Business Administration. Though some choose to concentrate their elective courses in specific topics, it's not necessary.


edited to add: Here's more of his background

Hitto was born in Syria’s capital of Damascus in 1963 and moved to the United States as a young man, where he earned double bachelors’ degrees from Purdue University and an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University, according to the coalition.

He worked for IT companies and advocated for a number of Muslim causes. After 9/11, he helped found the Muslim Legal Fund of America, which provides legal support to Arabs, Muslims and Asians. He also helped run an Islamic private school in Garland, Texas. Its website describes it as a place “where knowledge, faith, academics and character meet!”

Hitto is a member of Syria’s Kurdish ethnic minority, though he is not considered a representative of the community, which has not joined the coalition.

He is married to a teacher and has four children.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/meet-ghassan-hitto-the-syrian-rebels-leader/

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Response to cqo_000 (Original post)

Tue Mar 19, 2013, 09:51 PM

3. The new Chalebi?

 

I'm sure he will be met with flowers.

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Response to Arctic Dave (Reply #3)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 11:11 AM

6. My thoughts exactly! The word "picked" says it all. Not one single American should agree to go

to war for this stuff in the ME again.

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Response to cqo_000 (Original post)

Tue Mar 19, 2013, 11:55 PM

4. Isn't this similar to Kharzi, as well?

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Response to cqo_000 (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:18 AM

5. My only concern is that the Islamist groups are probably more unified

than the secular groups. A lot of Al Qaeda fighters from Iraq have crossed into Syria and have made considerable territorial progress. As it is the civil war has costed some 70-80,000 lives, so I have no idea how a country so divided will unify under what will be undoubtedly painted as "CIA/Zionist plant". Even if Assad falls, the aftermath could be worse than Egypt under the Brotherhood. Morsi thus far has been a willing tool in the Brotherhood's goal of pushing for an Islamist state with all minorities and women as second class citizens. There is no reason to believe that Syria will turn out any better - it could possibly even fall into further chaos, like Iraq after Saddam with Sunni-Shiite divide. Another question is the role Hezbollah will play as this goes forward. They're big backers of Assad.

It is too bad these anti-Assad groups aren't more unified. Assad certainly needs to go as he's been absolutely ruthless - much worse than Ghaddafi and possibly even Saddam for that matter. But simply handing out weapons to relatively unknown groups may not solve anything. Obama has been wise to tread cautiously in this regard.

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Response to cqo_000 (Original post)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 03:46 AM

7. Liberals boycott Syria opposition coalition over PM choice

(Reuters) - Nine people suspended their membership in the Syrian National Coalition, the main political grouping opposing President Bashar al-Assad, on Wednesday, one day after it named an Islamist-backed candidate as provisional prime minister.

"The Muslim Brotherhood, with the backing of Qatar, have imposed their prime minister candidate. We will keep away if the coalition does not reconsider its choice," veteran opposition campaigner Walid al-Bunni told Reuters.

Bunni is a senior figure in the group of nine, which also includes coalition Vice President Suhair al-Atassi, and opposition campaigner Rima Fuleihan, two of the three women in the 62-member coalition.

The group said in a statement the coalition's decisions were becoming dictated from outside and that democratic principles were not being honored. Atassi said she did not accept being what she termed a proxy for foreign powers.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/20/us-syria-crisis-opposition-idUSBRE92J0SH20130320

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Response to cqo_000 (Original post)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 05:15 AM

8. Surprised!!!!

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Response to cqo_000 (Original post)

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 11:40 PM

9. Syrian opposition military leader rejects new PM

24 March 2013 /AP, BEIRUT

The head of the Syrian opposition coalition's military branch has refused to recognize the body's new prime minister, saying he was not properly elected.

Louay Almokdad, aide to Gen. Salim Idris, told The Associated Press by phone Sunday that the rebel Free Syrian Army would not recognize the U.S.-educated IT expert chosen last week to head a rebel interim government.

Almokdad said Ghassan Hitto was elected without the support of prominent Syrian opposition figures and that a recognized prime minister must have broad support.

Hitto received 35 out of 48 votes cast by the 63 active members of the opposition Syrian National Coalition last week.

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-310642-syrian-opposition-military-leader-rejects-new-pm.html

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