Saving Syria's Revolution: The Most Likely New Candidate For This Post Is Ahmad Tohme
31 May 2013
By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
All eyes are on the Syrian people who are set to
choose a leader for the Syrian National Coalition next
week. The process began approximately two months ago
when members of the opposition disagreed over Ghassan
Hitto's appointment. A prospective choice who was not
popular among Syrians, Hitto failed to establish a
satisfactory government during the period following
The most likely new candidate for this post is Ahmad
Tohme. Contrary to Hitto, Tohme is a well-known face
among the Syrians, an Islamist, and is based in Syria.
Hitto is well known among the opposition since he
participated in the "Damascus Declaration," a
statement of unity issued in October 2005, alongside
key opposition figures such as Fayez Sara.
For the last eight years, the opposition has been
calling for gradual change in Syria. Unlike Hitto—who
previously resided in the United States and for this
reason, is rejected by some—Tohme was born in Deir
ez-Zor, in eastern Syria.
In his own words: "I've lived in Syria for most of my
life except for the give years I spent in the Bisha
province of Saudi Arabia where my father worked as a
teacher between 1974 and 1979."
Similar to the previous coalition president, Moaz Al-Khatib,
Ahmad Tohme worked as a preacher in a mosque and
specialized in Islamic studies. He calls for change
and believes in "reconsidering our Muslim intellectual
heritage and correcting a number of misunderstanding
that resulted from the backwardness of our
civilization." Tohme is also a pacifist who believes
in fighting peacefully for rights.
Those who know Tohme say he is a moderate person and
represents the essential element for a post-Assad
Syria, which requires someone who advocates
co-existence between religions, sects and ideologies.
The chosen head of the new government will have to
fulfill several idealistic requirements. He will
initially have to save the revolution and its leaders
who remain tormented by internal chaos.
If Tohme succeeds, he will also have to visits the
world's major cities to convince the international
community of the integrity and unity of the
opposition, as well as the fact that it represents all
the Syrian people. Despite their integral influence,
lack of arms and regional interventions in favor of
Assad's regime are not the main issues of concern
The real danger facing the success of the Syrian
revolution is on behalf of the revolutionaries
themselves, their leaders, and their internal
division. It is the absence of a unified leadership to
convince the Syrian peoples, first and foremost, and
then the rest of the world, that an alternative option
to the Syrian regime exists, and that it is active,
responsible, and popular.
The question is whether Tohme will be able to handle
the situation at a time when internal and external
forces are conspiring against the Syrian people and
their revolution? It has been suggested that he should
not accept the position if he cannot handle it; this
national duty is dangerous, difficult, and historical.
Meanwhile, the peace conference is a Russian-Iranian
initiative that aims to convince the world to accept
Bashar Al-Assad as president until next year, and then
for life. Those who support the "Geneva 2" conference
claim that the opposition has no leaders, the
revolutionaries do not have a united body, and that
the revolution is no better than the regime it aims to
This image is being propagated by the Assad regime
through individual manipulations and forged videos. An
example of this would be the video allegedly showing
revolutionaries eating the heart of a soldier after
killing him. The Bolivian ambassador stated that this
video prompted him to oppose a U.N. General Assembly
resolution against the Assad regime a few days ago.
It is crucial that the opposition forms a government,
chooses a leader, and maintains the openness of a
coalition that rises above differences and
unreasonable allegiances; these duties are as
important as the use of weapons and self-sacrifice.
Al Rashed is the
general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also
the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and
the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is
also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al
Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree
in mass communications. He has been a guest on many TV
current affairs programs. He is currently based in