Cleric Ahmed Moaz al-Khatab chosen to lead Syrian opposition
After marathon talks in Doha, 52-year-old cleric Ahmed Moaz al-Khatab, has been named the new leader of the Syrian coalition.
The Syrian National Council, who has come under intense scrutiny from the US, finally agreed to a wider, more representative body to lead the opposition against the Assad regime.
Although the factions are deeply divided, Western leaders have hailed the move to elect a moderate cleric as a positive step towards peace.
UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said the move was an “important milestone in forming a broad and representative opposition that reflects the full diversity of the Syrian people”.
The former Damascus imam left Syria for Cairo in July, after several periods of detention by the current Assad regime. His deputies will be prominent dissident Riad Seif ‒ who has previously led attempts to unify the opposition ‒ and female activist, Suhair Attasi.
The move comes amid concerns over the Syrian conflict spilling across its borders, after Israel fired warning shots over the UN-monitored ceasefire zone, when mortar fire hit the Golan Heights.
There are also fears that the break-up of Syria could lead to the conflict crossing over into countries such as Iraq and Lebanon.
On a basic level the new coalition is a portal for diplomatic communication. The 12-point agreement also states that they will form a military council, which will unify opposition fighting forces.
National Judicial Commissions will also be set up in rebel-held areas. The coalition will work to overthrow the government, while ruling out any contact with the Assad regime.
Al-Khatab has urged the international community to “fulfil its pledges”, and is now seeking full recognition for the group.