ISTANBUL – Syria’s Western-backed political opposition group, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, has elected a new presidential committee and a president widely seen as not tied to any of the body’s international sponsors.
Despite having tenuous links with fighters on the ground and seen as out of touch with ordinary Syrians, the National Coalition remains one of the main parties in international discussions to find solutions to the almost 4-year-old civil war.
Khaled Khoja takes over as president from Hadi al-Bahra, who is considered to have close links with Saudi Arabia. Al-Bahra served for one term and did not run for a second but will be on the political committee.
Khoja, a 49-year old Damascus-born doctor and businessman, won 56 votes out of 106 votes cast at a closed meeting in Istanbul on Sunday. The 111-member body also elected a new secretary-general and vice presidents.
The role of the vice president reserved for a Kurdish member had not yet been filled, as the Kurdish bloc had not yet presented a new nominee, the National Coalition said.