Syria geared up for ‘farcical’ presidential election as war rages on


assad runs for re election

Syria geared up Monday for an election expected to keep Bashar al-Assad as president but derided as a “farce” and only staged in regime-held parts of the war-ravaged country.

Officially, 15 million people are eligible to vote in a country bled dry by the three-year conflict that flared from a brutal crackdown on a peaceful protests calling for democratic reforms.

Tuesday’s election can only be held in areas under the regime’s control, far from clashes between forces loyal to Assad and the rebels fighting to topple him.

A “security plan” has reportedly been put in place in Syrian cities since Sunday, aimed at protecting voters and polling stations against possible attacks.

“Military and security forces are on maximum alert to ensure the security of Syrians who wish to vote,” Al-Watan, a pro-regime newspaper, reported on Monday.

More than 9,000 polling stations had been “secured” across the country, the daily said, advising voters not to be concerned about their safety on election day.

For some time, rumours have swirled that polling places in Damascus would be targeted by rebels positioned in the nearby countryside.

On Monday, a bomb-laden truck reportedly killed at least 10 people when it exploded in Haraqi, a regime-held village in Homs province populated mainly by people from Assad’s Alawite community. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights meanwhile reported that at least 50 people were killed at the weekend in rebel mortar and rocket fire targeting regime-controlled zones of divided Aleppo city.

syria factionsThe Baath party, which has ruled Syria with an iron fist for half a century, as well as other parties and religious officials tolerated by the regime have called on voters to choose Assad, who is widely expected to sweep back to power.

“Tomorrow, Syrians will speak their minds. They will choose a leader who will restore security and preserve sovereignty,” said official daily Al-Thawra.

Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi, in a television interview on Sunday, said: “The presidential election is a genuine occasion for all Syrians to express… their personal opinion, in a totally transparent way“.

Assad faces two virtual unknown candidates in the vote, which is Syria’s first election in 50 years after the president and his father Hafez before him maintained power after a string of referendums.

Posters glorifying Bashar al-Assad have gone up in Damascus, while some portraits showed his competitors Maher al-Hajjar and Hassan al-Nuri, until they began to be removed Monday at the end of the campaigning period.

assad  re election posterRebels seeking Assad’s overthrow and their Western and Arab backers have watched powerless as the preparations have come to a close, after the army secured a series of military advances on the ground, especially around Homs and Damascus.

Opposition activists have branded the vote a “blood election” that is being held amid a war that is estimated to have killed 162,000 people.

Rebels have called on voters to boycott the election, which excludes any anti-regime candidates from running.

A civil servant in Damascus told AFP that he would vote.

“I have to, because there is a voting station in the building where I work. I can’t escape,” he said.

Syria saw a peaceful, Arab Spring-inspired revolt break out in March 2011, demanding political change.

The movement later morphed into an insurgency, after the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.

The conflict that ensued evolved into a complex, multi-front war that drew in thousands of foreign jihadists, as large swathes of Syria’s territory fell out of government control.

“Years from now our grandkids will ask how we could’ve failed to bring justice to people living in hell on earth,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power tweeted
“Years from now our grandkids will ask how we could’ve failed to bring justice to people living in hell on earth,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power tweeted last Thursday after Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Syria.

The election is aimed at reinforcing Assad’s position in the war, as the army backed by Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement and Damascus’ allies in Russia and Iran battle divided rebels who are also fighting the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Observers from countries allied to the regime — North Korea, Brazil, Russia and Iran — have arrived in Damascus to monitor the vote, said state news agency SANA.

The vote has been slammed as a “farce” by the opposition and as a “parody of democracy” by the United States.

Refugees in Lebanon who fled the Syrian war held protests on Sunday to denounce the election.

“Vote for the man who killed 200,000 Syrians!” read one poster held by a protester in Lebanon’s northern Kusha village, as demonstrators marched waving flags of the Syrian opposition.

Polling stations will be open for 12 hours from 7:00 am (0400 GMT) on Tuesday.




31 responses to “Syria geared up for ‘farcical’ presidential election as war rages on”

  1. master09 Avatar

    No comment.

  2. Fauzia45 Avatar

    Questions have been asked ,are being asked now ,^not in years from now ^,and will be asked!!!If justice had been brought to all the people of the Middle East ,there would not have been so many wars,so many deaths and so much suffering and destruction!Dictators have reigned for decades !!People s rights ,dignity and welfare was not and is not a concern for those struggling for power in the region!Devastating wars brought up grievances that have caused social unrest across the region !A surge of extreme religious fanatical groups took advantage and are taking advantage of the chaos,for those behind them have always dreamed of a ^totalitarian Islamic State^!In the name of religion .atrocities are being committed and all are in danger!!

  3. The real lebanese Avatar
    The real lebanese

    Assad forgot to set up polls for the other 90% of Syrians who dont support him. Not like any of the other two candidates were good anyways.

    1. Farq2 Avatar

      We get it Real. If they are not a Jew they are not good enough.

      1. The real lebanese Avatar
        The real lebanese

        The 90% of Syrians not being able to vote arent Jews. Please keep your blatant comments to yourself.

        I guess everyone who doesn’t support your political views are zionists right? This just shows the ignorance many M8 supporters have.

        1. Farq2 Avatar

          Who said anything about Zionist?

          1. The real lebanese Avatar
            The real lebanese

            We all know what you’re implying. You like to accuse everyone against your political views that they live Jews and are zionists. Stop playing stupid…

          2. Pedro Rabaçal Avatar
            Pedro Rabaçal

            PLAYING stupid?…

          3. Farq2 Avatar

            You say I can play stupid, However it’s better than being plan stupid.

          4. Pedro Rabaçal Avatar
            Pedro Rabaçal

            Judging by your very poor grammar and your gullibility at ASSad´s popularity (propaganda), guess you are not playing…

          5. Farq2 Avatar

            So all the proof which shows how popular he really is, is what you call propaganda. His followers who happen to be in the millions not only in Syria but also around the world are hitting the streets everyday. Are you people really that blind. Or is it your way of living in denial. I have said it from the the beginning of the fake revolution, if the people of syria wanted him gone, he would have been gone long ago. Even reports from nato in the past claimed that 70 percent of the people still support Assad. But I guess those reports from nato are also propaganda.

          6. The real lebanese Avatar
            The real lebanese

            Those reports are taken in Damascus, not by NATO . Of course the majority will support him there. And he would’ve been gone had it not been for Iran’s orders. And while he has followers in the millions around the world, he has people who want him out in the billions.

          7. Farq2 Avatar

            Yes, but the billions you speak of are irrelevant. Its the millions in the country and abroad that count. I’m not going to try and convince you anymore Real. You have nothing to prove me wrong. Only what you read in the main stream media. It’s quite sad actually. Oh, and thank for correcting my grammar. At least you got one thing rite.

          8. The real lebanese Avatar
            The real lebanese

            You also dont seem to know which reports come from where either. Lol.

          9. Pedro Rabaçal Avatar
            Pedro Rabaçal

            Lots of claims,no evidence.
            Sounds propaganda to me!
            Specialy the ridiculous claims about a mosnter like ASSad having million of supporters. lol
            Thenwhy iranians & Hezbollah are saving ASSad´s sorry a§§?…

          10. AkhouManUki Avatar

            Sorry, I think I missed all of that proof that you speak of. Claiming to have proof, yet everything you present is so one sided. Stop believing all of the lies you read, and stop spreading them. I know you have a conscience ya Farqrallah.

          11. Farq2 Avatar

            So live footage of people protesting in the streets not just in Syria, but around the world in favor of Assad is what you call me being one sided. WOW,

          12. AkhouManUki Avatar

            When you’re not presenting both sides, by definition that is one sided.

          13. The real lebanese Avatar
            The real lebanese

            Plain* lol.

    2. Farq2 Avatar

      Oh and BTW, where the hell did you get the 90% from. Just curious to know whether they are facts or more wind blowing from you part.

      1. The real lebanese Avatar
        The real lebanese

        Referring to the map above. The gov. doesnt control that much, only the Damascus area and Latakia. That means the rest of Syria wont be able to vote.

        1. Farq2 Avatar

          So they are your facts, the map above. LOL. So what you are telling me is I show you live footage and you try and find a spin on it. However you believe what the map tells you. You really are shallow, aren’t you.

          1. The real lebanese Avatar
            The real lebanese

            Assad has no other strongholds. You can deny this all you want its up to you.

          2. Farq2 Avatar

            My friend Real, you are the one living in denial. I have given you live footage of how much people support Assad. You on the other hand keep referring to what you read in the main stream media. So the question really is, who is really in denial.

          3. The real lebanese Avatar
            The real lebanese

            You gave me footage in the beginning of the war before Assad used airstrikes on his people and gassed them. I understand people will always still support him, but I promise you you wont see another protest like that in Aleppo even if it was free of any terrorist attack. But if you say so.

  4. nagy_michael2 Avatar

    And those who don’t vote for him they get their tents burned in Lebanon. I can’t believe supporters here still love this guy. he is the modern takfiris and a big terrorist. anyone supports him is no different than a thug..

  5. Leborigine Avatar

    Good, I hope assad wins. Which means that the war will wage for at least another 10 years and bring more destruction to syria. Hehe, where is Mekenseh, buy me some popcorn as well!

  6. Btru2u Avatar

    Why do dictators love elections? It’s an old question in the Middle East, but it needs answering yet again when Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is going to win the Egyptian presidential election this month and when President Bashar al-Assad is going to be re-elected in Syria next month. Will they get 90 per cent of the vote, or will they keep safely in the 80s like sick old Abdelaziz Bouteflika who picked up a measly 81.5 per cent in Algeria?
    Surely, Sisi will have to be awarded at least 82 per cent in order to show that he is no Bouteflika. As for Assad, the high 90s might be predicted although – given the 2.5 million Syrian refugees now living outside the country – that might be pushing credibility a bit far. Yet he’s got only two competitors, both MPs in the current parliament, and who really expects Assad family rule to end in June after 44 years? So no cliffhangers in Cairo or Damascus.

    The truth, of course, is that Sisi and Assad are not standing because they need electoral support. Egypt’s former field marshal – he officially left the army in order to stand in elections at the end of this month – needs to protect the Egyptian military’s huge economic empire and the investment of his fellow generals in energy, bottled water companies, real estate, shopping malls and furniture stores.

    That’s why Sisi believes it would be “inappropriate” for civilians to have control over the army’s budget – and why he wants a new clause in the Egyptian constitution to that effect.

    Assad, on the other hand, wants to ensure that the Geneva “peace” talks – supposedly aimed at the creation of a “transitional” government in Damascus – are dead in the water. If he is re-elected President next month – and there really is no “if” about it – how can a “transitional” government be created? And since new electoral laws in Syria state that presidential candidates have to have lived in Syria for 10 years prior to the election, none of Assad’s external critics can stand. So no surprises if 90 per cent becomes flavour of the day.

    After all, Assad’s forces are winning the civil war in Syria in which perhaps 150,000 men, women and children have died – although that statistic might be as dodgy as election results. Cynicism usually accompanies Arab elections – but it’s always possible to underestimate the popularity of the patriarchal figures who come to power. Millions of Egyptians do support Sisi and equally supported his military coup against the country’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, whose own 51.7 per cent election victory was – by dictator standards – pretty pathetic.

    Sisi has also effectively ensured that the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi belonged, is now banned in Egypt as a “terrorist organisation”. In fact, both Sisi and Assad claim they are – like Bush, Blair and other worthy historical figures from our recent past – fighting “a war on terror”.

    Thus do our own Western fantasies come to the aid of Middle Eastern regimes. For it’s not by chance that Tony Blair himself – still chuntering away on the dangers of Islamist “fundamentalism” – has given his wholehearted support to Sisi’s coup and future presidency, and even shown mild enthusiasm for Assad who might be permitted to remain in power during “some kind of peaceful transition to a new constitution”. To have Blair’s backing might be regarded as a grave political setback for any politician – but not, perhaps, in parts of the Arab world.

    Nor must we forget our own little hypocrisies. John Kerry, whose condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Crimea is matched only by silence in the face of Israel’s annexation of Golan and appropriation of stolen land, believes it is farcical for Assad to hold an election during a war – but essential that Ukraine holds elections when its eastern cities have fallen totally outside government control. And an American President who could congratulate President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan on his last fraudulent election victory can hardly fail to give his good wishes to Sisi once he wins in Egypt – a message that will, be sure, arrive wrapped up in much enthusiasm for Sisi’s role in “transitioning” his country back to “democracy”.

    Sisi, and perhaps Assad too, are assured of our covert Western support if they protect – or do not challenge – Israeli power. Which is one reason why our diplomats are talking about the possible “necessity” of Assad’s continued presidency. The fact that Sisi has morphed the Brotherhood into al-Qa’ida and “terror” – without the slightest evidence – has gone unchallenged in the West.

    Nor has anyone been complaining when the diplomats of Beirut slip across to Damascus – quietly, of course – in the hope of renewing old friendships with Assad’s regime. It’s worth remembering that not so long ago, this same regime was receiving “renditioned” prisoners for the Americans and subjecting them to a bit of rough stuff in the cells while interrogating them about their anti-American “terrorism”. Also worth recalling, perhaps, are the congratulations Sisi received after staging his coup against Morsi last year – which arrived post-haste from Assad himself.

    Eighty-two per cent for Sisi, 90 per cent for Assad – that’s to cut out and keep. And then we’ll see how the “real” figures match up.

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