Ghassan Hitto was elected prime minister of the Syrian transitional government in a March 18, 2013, meeting of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in Istanbul.
Born in Damascus in 1963, Hitto is an ethnic Kurd. He emigrated to the United States in the early 1980s and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He received a BS in computer science and mathematics from Purdue University and an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.
After working for nearly two decades as an information technology executive in Texas, Hitto moved to Istanbul in late 2012 to help with the Syrian humanitarian aid effort. He began working with the Shaam Relief Foundation, a U.S. nongovernmental organization, and served as the vice president of the Coalition for Free Syria, a U.S. organization based in Dallas, Texas, and an active member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a U.S.-based civil rights organization advocating for Muslim Americans.
Hitto was elected narrowly with 35 votes, just three more than runner-up Assad Mustafa, a minister of agriculture under former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, in an election that included twelve candidates. After the election, Hitto noted that his main goals were overthrowing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, returning the refugees to their homes, and not negotiating with the regime. He has called for a government of institutions and rule of law. The Muslim Brotherhood supported his candidacy, although he is not a member of the group.