Syrian Opposition Elects Kurd to Top Role
SYRIAN FORCES yesterday shelled rebel strongholds across the country as the expatriate opposition Syrian National Council, meeting in Istanbul, elected as its leader Abdelbasset Sieda, who promised to unite all external and internal factions under the council umbrella.
Declaring the “regime is on its last legs”, Mr Sieda, a Kurd who has lived for many years in Sweden, said “multiplying massacres and shellings show that [the government] is struggling”. He pledged to reform and restructure the council, which has been sharply criticised by the international community and by Syrians in the country for factionalism and ineffectiveness.
Mr Sieda took over from Burhan Ghalioun, an academic teaching in Paris who headed the body since its establishment last September. By appointing a Kurd, the council hopes to reassure members of Syria’s minority communities they will not suffer if the secular regime is ousted. The Kurds have been divided over the council’s activities, and those who had joined the council withdrew.
Many Syrians are wary of the council, on which the Muslim Brotherhood has strong representation.