A Texas man has been named to a key foreign diplomacy position.

 

Collin Country, TX resident Ghassan Hitto was named to the post of Prime Minister of Syria by representitives of the Syrian Opposition Coalition. | Agence France-Presse/YouTube

Hitto, age 50, is a naturalized American citizen who left Syria in 1983. He graduated from Purdue University in 1989 with degrees in mathematics and computer sciences before moving to North Texas. There he worked as director of operations at Integrated Telecom Solutions of Dallas.

Hitto moved to Turkey in 2012 to help provide aid for the Syrian opposition. He followed his 25-year-old son, Obaida, who in June of last year went overseas to join the Syrian revolution as a videographer and photographer for opposition media services. When the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was created in late 2012, the elder Hitto partnered with Suhair Atassi – a democracy advocate and co-chair of the organization – to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid from the United States and allies to rebel-held areas of Syria.

Hitto was elected interim prime minister with 35 votes from the Coalition, narrowly defeating a former Syrian minister of agriculture who received 32 votes. Hitto, who has ruled out negotiations with the Assad regime in Damascus, is now charged with setting up a provisional government – including a cabinet – to help extend emergency relief services to opposition forces, as well as to provide financial assistance to governing councils already emerging in rebel-held areas.

Critics of Hitto’s election wonder if he is out of touch withSyriaafter having left at such a young age. Hitto is a member ofSyria’s Kurdish minority, and though he is not considered a representative of that community, the fact that the Kurds have not joined the coalition could incite further criticism.

Still, others have expressed admiration for Hitto’s having left a successful tech career in theUnited Statesto aid in the formation of a stable Syrian government post-revolution.

Hitto owns a home in Murphy,Texasjust north of Dallas. He is married to a former Garland school teacher and has four children.