Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Syrian National Coalition, the main Syrian opposition umbrella group, is preparing to elect new defense and interior ministers to the Western-backed interim opposition government.
The cabinet reshuffle comes two days after a senior member of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood resigned from the Coalition over its support of newly elected Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. As the country’s then-defense minister, Sisi took the decision in July 2013 to oust former president and Brotherhood member, Mohamed Mursi, with Egypt’s interim authorities subsequently designating the Brotherhood an outlawed terrorist organization.
The Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)—the armed wing of the Syrian National Coalition—has the right to put forward ministerial candidates to lead the interim government’s defense and interior ministries.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Council announced its nomination of Brig. Abdulaziz Al-Shallal as minister of defense and Gen. Awad Ahmed Ali and Gen. Adib Ahmed Al-Shallaf for the post of interior minister.
Shallal, who is widely expected to win the vote for the defense minister position, was “unanimously nominated by the council,” senior FSA figure Abu Ahmed Al-Asmi told Asharq Al-Awsat. Asmi highlighted the candidate’s “familiarity with the situation on the ground.”
The new defense minister will replace As’ad Mustafa who resigned in late April over the “lack of support” for the military opposition.
“The Ministry of Defense is of high importance to the Supreme Military Council, particularly during the exceptional conditions the revolution is going through,” Asmi added.
In another sign of the growing disputes within Syria’s political opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood—a key bloc within the Coalition—said it would investigate the circumstances surrounding the congratulatory letter that coalition president Ahmed Al-Jarba sent to Egypt’s newly elected president.
Earlier this week the former general guide of the Syrian Brotherhood, Ali Sadreddine Al-Bayanuni, resigned from the Coalition in protest against Jarba’s letter.
In an open letter addressed to the Coalition’s general authority on Tuesday, Bayanuni expressed surprise at Jarba congratulating “the putschists in Egypt on their successful hijacking of the Egyptian people’s revolution.”