Syria Opposition's New PM Comes From ... Texas

US citizen Ghassan Hitto new leader in rebel-held areas

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 19, 2013 2:06 AM CDT

(Newser) – Syria's main opposition council has elected American citizen Ghassan Hitto to be prime minister of a new interim government responsible for overseeing refugees and rebel-held areas. Hitto, 50, was born in Damascus but has lived in the US for decades. He abruptly quit his job at a Texas electronics firm last fall to move to Turkey to help coordinate the funneling of aid to rebel-held areas, Al Jazeera reports. Hitto emerged as winner with 35 out of 48 votes after a full day of closed-door meetings among coalition members.

Hitto, who opposes talks with Bashar al-Assad, says an interim government is necessary to unite rebel forces and keep Syria from becoming even more chaotic, the New York Times reports. "There is always a possibility that this regime might fall suddenly," he says. "And we can’t avoid a political vacuum in the country and the ensuing chaos unless there is a transitional government." Hitto says he decided to get more involved with the Syrian opposition after his 25-year-old American-born son sneaked off to join rebel fighters last year.

Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces members meet in Istanbul, Turkey.   (AP Photo)
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