How a North Texas Man Became the Leader of the Syrian Opposition Government

This weekend, the New York Times ran a fascinating story about how a director of operations at a North Texas-based telecommunications company became–for a few months anyway–the interim prime minister of an alternative government opposing the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war.

Ghassan Hitto grew up in Syria, in a Kurdish family. His older brother was imprisoned for 14 years for voicing opposition to the government of Bashar al-Assad’s father. At 19, Hitto moved to America, married a midwestern woman, and had four children, at least one of which played varsity football in high school.

A year into the conflict, Hitto’s oldest son, then 24, moved to Syria. Hitto started his involvement by volunteering to work on humanitarian aid projects in the fall of 2012. One thing led to another and soon his name was being floated by a group of expatriates forming a shadow Syrian government in Istanbul, where the family lives now. He made an urgent call to his wife, still living in Murphy at the time, telling her to hire a lawyer. It went something like this:

“Two things may happen next week. First, I am likely to become the prime minister of Syria. And then, there is a chance, I may be assassinated.”

The task was too much for Hitto, though. As the Times story says, “persuading the disparate members of his pseudo-government to agree on anything — while trying to win over rebel leaders who were skeptical of his background in the United States — proved to be impossible.” He resigned after less than four months.

 

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