Syrian opposition head offers to resign | AP
By Zeina Karam
Syria’s main opposition council is crumbling under the weight of infighting and divisions over issues that cut to the heart of the revolution, including accusations that the movement is becoming as autocratic as the regime it wants to drive out.
The slow disintegration of the Syrian National Council, which has become the international face of the uprising, could complicate Western efforts to bolster the opposition, just as President Bashar Assad’s regime gathers momentum in its crackdown on dissent.
On Thursday, SNC leader Burhan Ghalioun said he was ready to step down once a replacement is found, amid mounting criticism of his leadership.
The decision came just days after he was re-elected for a third, three month term during a council vote held in Rome. The council has said it would rotate the presidency every three months, so Ghalioun’s repeated appointments rankled some who wanted a new face.
“I will not accept under any circumstances to be a divisive candidate, and I am not after any post,” said Ghalioun, an exiled Syrian and professor at the Sorbonne in Paris. “I will resign as soon as a new candidate is picked, either by consensus or new elections.”
Ghalioun, a secular Sunni Muslim academic who has led the council since its formation in September, has been criticized by some opposition figures of being too close to the Muslim Brotherhood and of trying to monopolize power.
Fifteen months into the uprising, Syria’s opposition is still struggling to overcome internal rivalries and power struggles that prevent the movement from gaining the traction it needs to present a credible alternative to Assad. Its international backers have repeatedly appealed for the movement to pull together and work as one unit.
But as the conflict becomes more violent, with rebel fighters and others taking up arms, attempts to operate under a single umbrella have become increasingly difficult.
“Although it (the SNC) was conceptualized as a formation designed to represent society as a whole, it has played a very polarizing role. By mishandling personality issues, it has alienated more prominent opposition figures than necessary,” said Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group think tank.
Photo: Tonemgub2010/Wikimedia Commons