The Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition organization fighting against the government in Syria, elected Ahmad Jarba as president following a run-off vote held in Istanbul on Saturday, Xinhua reported.

A senior SNC official Adib Shishakly told Reuters, “A change was needed,” adding, “the old leadership of the coalition had failed to offer the Syrian people anything substantial and was preoccupied with internal politics. Ahmad Jarba is willing to work with everybody.”


Jarba, a tribal figure from the eastern Hasaka province, has close connection with Saudi Arabia. He beat businessman Mustafa Sabbagh who is supported by Qatar.

The announcement was made by the opposition at a press conference in Gonen Hotel, outside Istanbul.

The 3-day meeting also elected three vice presidents: Mohammed Farouk Taifour, Suheir Attasi and Salim Muslit, as well as a secretary general, Badr Jamous.

The Syrian opposition has long been divided by the conflicting views of the Saudi-backed bloc, the Muslim Brotherhood bloc and members backed by Qatar, according to local observers.

The former leader of the coalition quit months ago over disagreement on potential talks with the Assad government.

The Syrian civil war began in March of 2011, with more than 90,000 dead so far.