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Last stop Dallas, next stop Damascus? Ghassan Hitto - the IT executive who wants to govern Syria
by Loveday Morris
Just last year Ghassan Hitto was an IT executive in Dallas whose focus was probably lines of code or how to deliver a project on time. But today he was giving a speech in Istanbul in which he insisted his new priority was to utilise "all conceivable means" to topple President Bashar al-Assad and provide desperately-needed aid to the beleaguered people of Syria.
The bespectacled 50-year-old, who was elected the new head of the opposition transitional government in the early hours of Tuesday, now has the daunting task of building legitimacy for his fledgling administration, despite lacking the support of many high-profile members of his own coalition.
As he addressed the meeting in Istanbul, he admitted the duties facing the Syrian National Coalition as it attempts to form a government in rebel-held areas were "huge". He was voted in by 35 of the 49 coalition members who cast ballots, but another 15 members were not present – with several walking out in protest at Mr Hitto's perceived links to the Muslim Brotherhood and its backers in Qatar.
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