“What makes this project successful here in Aleppo is that most of Aleppo is liberated,” says Rafat Rifai, a freelance journalist who works as a consultant for the Transitional Revolutionary Council. Still, he adds, “the main financial resources are still with the regime so if the new assembly tries to take on the same role of the [Assad] government, it will need the same budget.”
The assembly has only limited funding. It comes from a mix of sources including Syrian expatriates and local businessmen, and the new Syrian opposition coalition formed in Doha last month is said to be considering offering assistance. The modest budget will force the group to prioritize its efforts on essentials such as repairing the electric grid and addressing bread shortages.
Throughout opposition-controlled areas in Aleppo province, citizens have formed a variety of ad hoc councils to manage their villages and neighborhoods in the absence of a central government, but the Grand Assembly is the first attempt to create a representative body that can begin to operate more like a traditional government body.