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