Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Nibali joins elite group with Tour de France win

    Read more

  • Boko Haram kidnap Cameroon minister's wife in deadly attack

    Read more

  • France calls on its nationals to leave Libya as violence escalates

    Read more

  • Netanyahu says Hamas 'violating its own ceasefire'

    Read more

  • Muslims prepare for Eid al-Fitr festival

    Read more

  • ‘Irresponsible’ American dad tries to scale Mont Blanc with children

    Read more

  • Ukraine fighting prevents observers from accessing MH17 crash site

    Read more

  • In pictures: Crowds flock to enjoy the Tour de France show

    Read more

  • Video: At the scene of the Air Algérie crash in Mali

    Read more

  • Costa Concordia arrives in port of Genoa to be scrapped

    Read more

  • In pictures: Youths clash with police at banned Gaza protest

    Read more

  • Russia lashes out at new EU sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • Bodies of all Air Algérie crash victims to be brought to France

    Read more

  • Syrian army and ISIS both claim advances

    Read more

  • Briton kidnapped in Yemen freed after five months

    Read more

  • Nibali rides serenely toward a place in Tour history

    Read more

  • Germany's Tony Martin wins 20th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • New round of Gaza ceasefire talks takes place in Paris

    Read more

Middle east

Syrian opposition leader al-Khatib stands down

© AFP

Video by Laurence CUVILLIER

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-03-24

The head of the Syrian National Coalition, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, on Sunday announced his resignation from the body, saying he wants more freedom. His resignation comes just days after Syria’s opposition chose a prime minister, Ghassan Hitto.

The head of Syria’s main opposition group resigned on Sunday, in a blow to a diminishing moderate wing of the two-year uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

Moaz Alkhatib, a former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus who had offered Assad a negotiated exit, was picked to head the Western and Gulf-backed National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in November after leaving Syria following persecution and several stays in jail.

Al-Khatib’s resignation came after the coalition berated him for offering Assad a deal and after the group went ahead, despite his objections, with steps to form a provisional government that would have further diminished his authority.

“I had promised the great Syrian people and promised God that I would resign if matters reached some red lines,” Alkhatib said in a statement on his official Facebook page, without explaining exactly what had prompted his resignation.

“Now I am fulfilling my promise and announcing my resignation from the National Coalition in order to be able to work with freedom that cannot be available within the official institutions,” he said.

A spokesman for Alkhatib confirmed his resignation.

Last week, the coalition chose Islamist leaning technocrat Ghassan Hitto as a provisional prime minister to form a government to fill a power vacuum in Syria arising from the two-year-old revolt that has killed more than 70,000 people.

Alkhatib, who had argued insufficient groundwork had been done to start forming a government, was weakened considerably, along with a moderate wing of the revolution as Jihadist salafists play a bigger role on the battlefield.

France 24's Lucy Fielder on al-Khatib's resignation

Hitto, whose cabinet is supposed to govern rebel-held areas currently ruled by hundreds of brigades and emerging warlords, was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood and coalition Secretary General Mustafa Sabbagh, who has strong links with Qatar.

“Basically Qatar and the Brotherhood forced Alkhatib out. In Alkhatib they had a figure who was gaining popularity inside Syria but he acted too independently for their taste,” said Fawaz Tello, an independent opposition campaigner.

“They brought in Hitto. The position of Alkhatib as leader became untenable.”

The appointment of Hitto prompted nine people to suspend their membership in the 62 member body, saying that promises to reform the coalition and respect consensus have been discarded.

Earlier this year, Alkhatib floated an initiative for the opposition to talk to Assad’s administration about a political transition, but said the Damascus government did not respond.

In his statement, Alkhatib added: “We will follow the path with our brothers who aim for the freedom of our people.”

He said official positions were “means to serve noble objectives” and not an aim in themselves.

Moaz al-Shami, a leading activist in Damascus, said Alkhatib’s resignation deprived the coalition, which consists mostly of exiles, of the figure best known inside Syria, but that Alkhatib still could still play a major role in the revolt.

“The opposition does not deserve Sheikh Moaz. He is a moderate and a non-sectarian figure who was acting like the statesman Syria should have. A lot of people did not agree with his peace offer to Assad but they respected him,” Shami said.

Syrian opposition leaders are due to attend an Arab League summit this week, Qatar said earlier on Sunday, looking for more support for their armed uprising.

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-03-24

  • SYRIA

    Syria opposition PM rules out talks with Damascus

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Syria marks two-year anniversary of crisis amid arms push

    Read more

  • SYRIA - FRANCE

    France and UK ready to arm Syrian rebels

    Read more

COMMENT(S)