From Abroad, Trying to Mold a Post-Assad Syria
Emad ad-Din al-Rashid, a former assistant dean at the Islamic law college of Damascus University, opened his MacBook Air laptop and flipped through spreadsheets detailing the unmet needs of seemingly every besieged neighborhood across Syria.
Riyad Shaqfa, the current head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, has been in exile for 30 years. He is guiding the Brotherhood’s effort to rebuild a political base in Syria.
From his spare office in a fifth-floor walk-up on a drab Istanbul street, Mr. Rashid spends eight hours a day calling into Syria, mostly to lobby hundreds of his former theology students to join his new Syria National Movement, patiently building a network that he hopes will one day become the Islamist movement’s power base.
While opposition groups are mostly concentrating on ending the brutish rule of President Bashar al-Assad, they are also positioning themselves for the longer-term question of who will rule in a post-Assad era. For that, they know from watching what happened in other Arab countries like Tunisia and Egypt that they need a good ground game.