Iran claims victory before Syria vote

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Election observers from North Korea, Iran and  Russia  have arrived in Syria to monitor the poll, which has been branded as a farce by opponents Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2646477/A-nation-divided-As-Syria-goes-polls-expected-Assad-landslide-victory-bombs-no-sign-ceasing.html#ixzz33ZRGaa8f  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Election observers from North Korea, Iran and Russia have arrived in Syria to monitor the poll, which has been branded as a farce by opponents

With Syrian President Bashar al-Assad poised to win a third term in office in an election denounced as a sham by the West, his chief ally, Iran, is trumpeting his anticipated victory as its own.

Recent days have seen a flurry of declarations by top Iranian officials celebrating not only the affirmation of Assad’s continued hold on power that the vote represents but also the defeat it appears to signal for three years of U.S. policy in Syria, which has as its stated goal Assad’s fall.

The United States has repeatedly dismissed the election taking place Tuesday as a “parody” because the outcome is guaranteed by rules written by the Assad regime. There are no serious contenders challenging Assad’s bid to be reelected for a third seven-year term in office, there will be no independent observers, and many parts of the country are either controlled by rebels or engulfed in fighting.

Iran, however, dispatched a team of monitors Monday to observe the voting, part of an extensive effort to mirror failed U.S. policies in Syria with initiatives asserting ownership of the crisis.

“Foreign powers should give up their illusions about fulfilling their personal desires and strategies through military methods in Syria,” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told a Friends of Syria conference in Tehran over the weekend. The choice of name seemed intended as a deliberate jab at the U.S.-backed Friends of Syria alliance created to support the Syrian opposition.

“They should admit that there is no way to solve the crisis of Syria other than the willpower of the Syrian people, which will be shown at the ballot box,” Zarif told the gathering, reportedly attended by representatives of 30 countries friendly to Iran.

The military adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, more bluntly expressed the sense of triumph.

“The strategy of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and European countries to overthrow Bashar al-Assad has failed,” Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi said in comments quoted last month by the government-run Press TV. “This is a strategic failure for the Western, Arab and Zionist front and a big victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The election seems to offer a vindication of Iran’s steadfast support for the Syrian regime, which has served as the linchpin for Tehran’s projection of power into the Arab world since the birth of the Islamic republic in 1979.

Iran vowed early in the conflict that it would not permit Assad to fall, and it has so far delivered on its word, pumping billions of dollars into the Syrian economy and providing weapons and training to loyalist forces. Shiite militias from Iraq, funded and trained by Iran, have provided much-needed manpower to supplement weary government forces. Iran also backs the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement, which played a crucial role in turning back Syrian rebel advances over the past year.

Although Iran has frequently denied sending military personnel to fight in Syria, Iranian media widely reported the funeral Sunday of a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Gen. Abdollah Eskandari had been captured and beheaded by rebels on one of the most contested front lines in the province of Hama, suggesting that Iran also is more extensively involved in the fighting on the ground than it is prepared to admit.

That Assad is holding an election three years after the uprising against him began is testimony as much to the lukewarm support the West has given to the Syrian opposition as it is to the endurance of his allies, including Russia as well as Iran, analysts say.

President Obama last week announced an unspecified increase in assistance for the rebels but also acknowledged in an interview with NPR that the program is still in its infancy and could take time to implement.

A top Iranian official mocked Obama’s new offer of help.

“In Syria, America is building castles in the air,” said Maj. Gen. Hasan Firuzabadi, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, according to comments reported by the semiofficial Fars News Agency. “The Syrian opposition has been defeated.”

Western diplomats say they hope that Iran’s entanglement in Syria will prove unsustainable over time and that Tehran will find its resources stretched by the burden of having to continue to back Assad in what is likely to be a long fight against a persistent insurgency.

In the meantime, however, Iran is likely to press ahead with its own version of a peace plan, which counters the proposals backed by the United States at failed talks in Geneva this year, said Ibrahim Hamidi, a senior correspondent with the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, who is Syrian. The plan envisages Assad’s reelection being followed by limited measures to include approved opposition members and localized cease-fires.

The election represents “a victory from the Iranian perspective,” Hamidi said. “They succeeded to prevent the regime falling, and also they succeeded to prevent Syria falling from one axis to the other.”

Meanwhile, Iran is translating Assad’s military gains against the rebels into diplomatic overtures to the Sunni Arab countries that back the opposition. The emir of Kuwait met with Khamenei on Monday, the second day of a groundbreaking visit aimed at easing tensions. Kuwait has close ties with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s archenemy, which has also expressed a tentative willingness to engage in talks with Iran.

Iran’s interior minister boasted last week that the rush by foreign countries to talk to Tehran contrasts with the diminished influence in the region of Iran’s “enemies.”

“They are desperately entangled in their self-made crises and have been forced to withdraw from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria,” he said, without directly naming the enemies.

Meanwhile, Syrians were braced for a feared surge in violence after several rebel groups threatened to attack during Tuesday’s voting. In Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, more than 50 people were killed in the past two days in rebel shelling of regime-held areas, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least 10 died in government airstrikes against the rebel-held portion of the city.

Washington Post

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5 responses to “Iran claims victory before Syria vote”

  1. Btru2u Avatar

    Last week U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Syrian president Bashar al-Assad a “terrorist” criminal and called Assad’s electoral plans a “farce”. “Assad’s is making partnership with terrorist elements, attracting terrorists and engaging in terrorist activities against his own people.” Assad’s planned presidential elections are “staged elections [that] are a farce. They’re an insult. They are a fraud on democracy, on the Syrian people and on the world.”

    I do not doubt that Assad is a scourge on the Syrian people and one of the top five criminals against humanity in the Twenty-First Century. In May 2007, in a single-candidate referendum, Bashar was “elected” president for a second seven-year term “winning” 97.6 percent of the votes. At that time, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “The United States is concerned by reports that the Syrian regime has used intimidation to restrict the candidate pool and threats of reprisal to discourage political dissent. President al-Assad is again denying the right of the Syrian people to an open, transparent and fully participatory political environment.” There is nothing new about Assad’s “farcical staged elections”.

    In March 2011, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the bloodthirsty Assad (who massacred thousands of Syrian civilians using chemical weapons at least 14 times since last October). “There is a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.” In less than three years, Assad the “reformer” had morphed into Assad the “terrorist” and genocider.

    Kerry’s condemnatory words against Assad raise parallel questions in my mind. Could it be reasonably said that the Obama Administration’s human rights policy is diplomatically “staged” and a “farce”? Is it a “fraud [perpetrated] on the world”? Is it “an insult to humanity” and human rights? Does the Obama Administration practice human rights diplomacy by hypocrisy or “diplocrisy”, (a neologism I coined to describe the barefaced hypocrisy of the Administration’s global human rights policy)? One should be careful pointing an accusatory index finger at others unmindful that three fingers are pointing at him.

    In April 2013, Secretary Kerry dismissed the election of Nicolás Maduro as president of Venezuela. Maduro won that election by a razor thin margin of 50.66 percent of the votes. When opposition leader Henrique Capriles demanded a recount, Kerry chimed in. “We think there ought to be a recount… Obviously, if there are huge irregularities, we are going to have serious questions about the viability of that [Maduro] government.” White House spokesman Jay Carney also issued a statement calling for a recount of all the votes.

    When Zimbabwe held its presidential election in August 2013, Kerry said, “Make no mistake: in light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results announced today represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people… The balance of evidence indicates that today’s announcement was the culmination of a deeply flawed process.” Mugabe “won” that “election” by 61 percent of the votes.

    In May 2010 when the late Meles Zenawi claimed 99.6 percent victory in the parliamentary elections, the U.S. brushed it off with the obligatory expression of “concern” and “disappointment”. White House National Security Spokesman Mike Hammer said, “We are concerned that international observers found that the elections fell short of international commitments. We are disappointed that U.S. Embassy officials were denied accreditation and the opportunity to travel outside of the capital on Election Day to observe the voting. The limitation of independent observation and the harassment of independent media representatives are deeply troubling. An environment conducive to free and fair elections was not in place even before Election Day…” Was the 2010 “parliamentary election” in Ethiopia a “staged election that was a farce”? Was it “an insult and a fraud on democracy, on the Ethiopian people and on the world”?

    I admit that there could be no beauty contest among warthogs but it is noteworthy that the U.S. condemned Bashar for “winning” the presidency by 97.6 percent of the votes in a single-candidate referendum while turning a blind eye to Meles Zenawi’s parliamentary electoral victory by 99.6 percent in a “multiparty election”.

    Understanding the Obama human rights doctrine

    The Obama doctrine on human rights seems pretty straightforward. Human rights policy making is essentially a choice between the lesser of two (d)evils. The world is full of nasty “S.O.Bs” like Assad, Mugabe and Maduro who commit crimes against humanity. Then there are nice “S.O.Bs” like Egypt’s el-Sisi, Uganda’s Museveni, Rwanda’s Kagame and the late Meles Zenawi who commit crimes against humanity as a pastime. The difference between the two sets of (d)evils is that the latter are our “S.O.B.s”. They do our bidding. IN return, they get free passes. We give them billions of dollars in handouts every year.

  2. The real lebanese Avatar
    The real lebanese

    50 people died in Aleppo in just two days of regime bombing. You call that ‘life as usual’ Farq? I sure dont want to live knowing if the next one will drop on me.

  3. Iran claiming victory in a Syrian election is like North Korea claiming a democratic election for its fearless leader. Iran’s claim and the election results are meaningless given the civil war Syria is embroiled in. A civil war that Iran has helped prolong with its overt support with funds, weapons and fighters. In fact, Iranian news sources announced the death of former high ranking Iranian military official in Syria after battling rebel groups. So far, over 60 Iranian fighters have been killed in fighting there, causing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to reveal it had been trolling Afghan refugees camps seeking to recruit people to fight in the place of Iranians for the bargain basement price of $500. Syria is just one small example of the reach and ambition of Iran in controlling the actions of
    its neighbors with its own unique brand of radicalized Islam and serves as a
    lesson to the need to curb Iran’s aims.

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