Facing Dissent, Syrian Exile Leader Changes Tack
Re-elected, somewhat grudgingly, as leader of Syria’s opposition coalition, Burhan Ghalioun says he is determined to break with a year of failure and to rally fellow exiles and their allies behind a new strategy of arming the rebels inside the country.
The 67-year-old sociology professor from Paris’s Sorbonne cut a sometimes lonely figure during an animated gathering of the Syrian National Council in Rome, but he won a three-month extension to his mandate on Tuesday, as a president who can satisfy both powerful Islamists and the SNC’s Western backers.
“It is true that we had a weak performance and we admit that, and that is why we are restructuring now and we hope by this we will have a better performance,” Ghalioun told Reuters shortly before delegates re-elected him.
“We are trying more and more to take political control or supervision of the rebels and reorganize them so we can create a new political strategy,” he added, saying more groups within Syria which share the goal of ousting President Bashar al-Assad would be brought under the SNC umbrella this week.