Syria’s provisional premier

Two years into the deadly conflict in Syria, the leading opposition coalition of the country, Syrian National Coalition, has finally elected a prime minister to govern the rebel-held territory.

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Published: Wed 20 Mar 2013, 8:35 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:47 AM

Ghassan Hitto, a 50-year-old Damascus-born IT expert, who has spent decades in the US, was elected with a clear majority of 35 votes out of 48, in a vote that has been described by coalition leaders as “transparent and democratic”. The election took place in Istanbul, Turkey, and the newly elected premier is expected to take control of large swathes of lands in Syria’s north, which have been haphazardly governed by rebels and local councils since months.

However, will this move actually give a semblance of order to Syria’s fragment and unruly rebellion? Not really- — at least not in the near future. Hitto, who only recently returned from Texas to help coordinate aid in rebel-governed territory, neither has sufficient local knowledge nor any military background to organise the rebellion and effectively govern in war-torn territory. While the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, Gen Selim Idriss, has agreed to work under Hitto’s leadership, it’s difficult to imagine that the independent rebel groups will submit to the new premier’s authority. After all, it’s the rebels who have been fiercely contesting Assad’s regime on ground. To expect these battle-hardy men to suddenly start following rules laid by a technocrat is too idealistic a notion. In fact, Hitto’s lack of military experience is the reason why some members of the SNC did not partake in the voting.

But even if the idea of a US-returned individual governing tracts of Syrian territory sounds impractical, it’s worth a shot at least. Politically, the Syrians have nothing to lose at the moment, so any idea or suggestion that at least shows that the opposition is making concerted decisions — rather than being torn in disagreement — is a hopeful sign.

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