“Syria’s opposition coalition early Tuesday elected a little-known American-educated IT manager and Islamic activist to head an interim government to administer the areas seized by rebel forces from the forces of President Bashar Assad.
Ghassan Hitto received 35 votes out of 48 ballots cast by the opposition Syrian National Coalition’s 63 active members during a meeting in Istanbul. The results were read aloud by coalition member Hisham Marwa to applause from a few dozen of his colleagues. …
“I miss my wife and children and I look forward to seeing them soon,” said Hitto, who has lived in the United States for decades and recently moved from Texas to Turkey to help coordinate aid to rebel-held areas.
When asked what his interim government’s first priority would be, Hitto said he planned to give a speech later Tuesday outlining his plans.
“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 rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
By choosing Ghassan Hitto, 50, an information technology executive who lived in Texas until recently, the Syrian Opposition Coalition concluded months of contentious efforts to unite behind a leader, under pressure from the United States and its allies, which demanded that the opposition set up clear chains of command as a condition of increasing aid to the rebels.
Mr. Hitto faces formidable challenges in his quest to to establish administrative authority over areas of northern Syria that have been secured by rebels.