05.06.2014 Author: Alexander Orlov

Presidential Election in Syria: the West has Lost its Game

66345On June 3 the people of Syria, despite the numerous attempts made by the West to disrupt or obstruct the election, despite countless terrorist attacks of the armed opposition, have finally got a chance to get their say on today’s Syrian policy. On this day they had to elect Syria’s president choosing from three candidates. The leader of the campaign – Bashar Assad, whose term in office expires on July 17, a Communist from Aleppo, a member of the the Popular Front for Liberation and Change party, Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar and a former state minister who now heads the National Initiative for Reform, Hassan Abdel Illyahi en-Nuri.

According to the new constitution, that came into effect in February of 2012, a new president is to obtain his mandate by direct popular election for a term of 7 years and has the right to be re-elected only once. And Bashar al-Assad, that has become a symbol of nation’s resistance to foreign aggression for more than three years, has won with 88% of ballots cast in his favour. The Syrian conflict sponsored by the Arabian monarchies, and supported by the United States and several NATO countries, like France to topple Assad has not reached its goal. According to most experts, today there is no real alternative to Assad in Syria.

Unfortunately, Syrian refugees were not able to exercise their constitutional rights. Authorities in Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Germany, France and the US, along with a number of the Arab States of the Gulf, have effectively banned Syrians from voting. Additionally the polling was not held in those areas of Syria controlled by militants and foreign Islamist mercenaries. A total of registered voters has reached the number of 15.8 million people (while in 2012 the official population of Syria amounted to 22.4 million people).

Internal non-parliamentary opposition has called for a boycott of the election. The National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change stated that before any elections can be held there must be a cease-fire agreement in place, after which they would form a national unity government and revise the Constitution. Nevertheless, early in the morning on 3 July tens of thousands of Syrians rushed to the polling stations in a belief that this presidential election will help stabilize the situation in the country and put an end to bloodshed.

Nevertheless, even on a day like this war continued in the Syrian Arab Republic, the clashes were initiated by the armed opposition groups. A total of 30 mortar shells and homemade rockets rained the western parts of Aleppo, leaving more than 11 people killed and 47 wounded. However a city cut in two by a front line provided 800 fully operational polling stations, which allowed more than 200 thousand people to make a difference in their country’s fate.

Yet, there’s an important observation to be made, the voting was allowed only in those parts of Syria controlled by the Assad regime which is mostly in the north and east of the country. Despite a number of successful advances of the government troops, the armed opposition still remains in control of certain areas of Syria even on the outskirts of Damascus. But in any case, the majority of Syrians, even those who were not able to vote, would prefer Assad to Islamic radicals on most any day of the week. They have lost all trust in the corrupted pro-Western liberals, dwelling in exile, awaiting for a chance to take power in Syria in their hands.

To date, according to various estimates, from 110 thousand to 230 thousand of Syrians fell in this conflict, more than 5 million people have become refugees . The war has cast a serious blow to the country’s economy: GDP fell by half, around 8 million are living in striking poverty, the unemployment has nearly reached 50%. Schools, hospitals and other institutions in many areas are operating with interruptions. But before these issues are to be addressed the revolt, that had been organized and funded from outside Syria, must be suppressed. And only then one could be able to carry out any political or economic reforms. All the more if one is to consider the fact that The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, supported by the US and Saudi Arabia has sabotaged reconciliation process launched by Moscow in Geneva. What other choice did Assad had except for holding elections campaign without the external opposition. And now, when the election is over, he has a wide range of challenges to address from the restoration of stability in the country to the reestablishment of good relations with Syrian neighbors.

Today there’s a few people in the West that will willingly admit that the Syrian conflict was staged by the NATO – GCC. Thus, once allowing Syrian political refugees and radical Islamists to seek protection in Turkey, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has provoked a chain of terrorist attacks in Syria and in Turkey. Jordan is also under the pressure of Washington, the latter demands that this country would allow the Syrian opposition members and the CIA instructors to operate on its soil, building militants training camps on the border with Syria.

Since the beginning of the conflict Syria has found itself isolated in the Arab League, now it’s an instrument in the hands of the Wahhabi Gulf monarchies , which decided that Syria, as an ally of Iran, would be of more use for them in ruins. But Damascus is supported by Tehran, the “Hezbollah” movement in Lebanon, a number of political forces in Algeria, and by the Shia groups in Iraq. So, even under the present circumstances, Syria has proven to be extremely successful in its foreign policy. And nobody is asking how much time is left for Assad anymore: Syria has shown its viability to the world. And the latest presidential election — is nothing more than a celebration of Assad and his regime and all those Syrians who had refused to establish a puppet Sharia regime in Damascus.

But why Washington is so afraid of the presidential elections in Syria as to label them “illegitimate” even before they start? After all, the recent presidential elections in Ukraine enjoyed full US and NATO support, even despite the fact that they were organized by illegitimate authorities? As for the authorities in Damascus they have maintained official relations with the US and a number of EU for years and no one can seriously call them “illegitimate” Everything is clear here- a regime that could be beneficial to Washington would always be labeled “legitimate”, even if it’s a radical nationalist regime, the fascist type. Should we follow Washington’s logic, we would call radical Islamists of Al-Qaeda in the Middle East and the Bandera coalition that has been killing civilians with cluster bombs and burning people alive – “democratic forces.” Apparently, soon we would be forced to recognize cannibals and organ traders as “democrats”, those we have already seen before in the armed opposition ranks last year. It seems that then even the West has shuddered in disgust, but apparently it was forced to forget about such “peculiarities” under the pressure from the White House.

It should be noted that Russia had been following those elections closely, Russian observers attended a number of polling stations all across Syria. After all Syria is not just a mere partner to Russia — it’s an outpost. It is possible that that wave of Islamist terror that has swept the Middle East , may soon be spreading across Russia’s vast territory. Thereby by supporting Syria, Russia is protecting its national interests . If the Assad regime falls, the next stop for this jihad madness is Iran, and then the North Caucasus and, consequently, Russia. One can be pretty sure that Moscow will be supporting the legitimate government of Damascus.

It is clear then why the NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has made a statement that: “the Syrian presidential election – is a farce” and the vote “does not fulfil international standards for free, fair and transparent elections and I am sure no (NATO) ally will recognise the outcome of these so-called elections.” Washington authorities, too, believe that the Syrian election of June 3 is a simple “farce” and it would be a waste of time to observe the voting process. On June 2 Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the United States Department of State has made an announcement that “such a process is inconceivable in Syria today, where the regime has crushed political dissent and nearly half the population is displaced by war, including millions scattered outside of the country in refugee camps and host communities”. This words were mimicked by a number of Western countries , and even the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that such elections could derail the reconciliation process, and the head of the EU diplomacy, Catherine Ashton stated that the presidential elections in Syria under the current circumstances are irrelevant.

Moreover, the Americans are planning to extend their military support to the rebels in order to re-inflame the situation in Syria. In Ukraine, Washington succeeded in promoting bloodshed, so now the United States have turned their attention back to Damascus. This “special attention” implies the growth in the number of American training instructors along with the amount of small arms to sold to militants dwelling in Jordan, at the very Syrian border . In addition, the upcoming “training” process may be joined by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE and France.

So the struggle for Syria continues. West would launch an offensive against anyone who does not want to obey to its will. In many ways, the course of this confrontation will be determined by how things go in the Ukraine. If US puppets in Kiev will not take any cohesive actions to stabilize the situation in the country, their defeat will be yet another costly defeat for the West. And then it is possible that the US and NATO will try to “get things even” in Syria and then in Iran. Washington has virtually declared a “jihad” against Russia, since it has desperately trying to maintain its positions in Europe and in the Middle East. At the same time US authorities are forgetting that today in a region that is much more important to their critical interests – East Asia, China has been advancing politically and economically.

Alexander Orlov, political scientist, expert in Oriental Studies, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.