A moderate Muslim preacher who suffered as a freedom fighter in Syria has been chosen as opposition leader to Assad. Now, Moaz al-Khatib must unite a people torn by civil war and religion.
Historians often haggle over whether leaders drive events or ideas do. And scholars will certainly do so again regarding Moaz al-Khatib of Syria.
He is a moderate Islamic preacher and well-respected activist for freedom who was chosen last week to lead a grand coalition of opponents to the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad.
He has been all but anointed by most Arab nations, France, and Turkey – and perhaps soon by the Obama administration – as a legitimate successor to Mr. Assad. For now, though, he serves as a potential galvanizing leader for a revolution mired in extreme violence and drifting away from its democratic roots and toward jihadist terrorists.
Mr. Khatib is a unique creature of his culture, much like Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar (Burma) and the late Corazon Aquino in the Philippines. He carries the credibility of being a victim of repression, having been jailed many times for his pro-democracy views and injured by a bomb. Yet he carries few grudges as he clings to a higher view of humanity as redeemable and reconcilable.