Portuguese / Spanish / English

Middle East Near You

Assad won the election but has no legitimacy

The language and statistics being used to fabricate Bashar Al-Assad's presidential victory expose his administration's true intent. It is highly unlikely, for example, that 11 million Syrians would participate in the poll in the midst of a total war being waged by the president against his people for three years.

As expected, Assad won the election because he prepared, produced and directed this poorly-orchestrated comedy himself. It was sponsored by his alliance with the Iranians and Russians but despite his "victory", Assad will never regain any legitimacy; he lost that after waging war against the activists of the Syrian Revolution and their social structures.

It is an understatement to say that the election was fabricated. In fact, it was a farce from beginning to end. Moreover, the official statistics that were presented as the poll's official results attest to the fact that it was staged. The outcome of this election was known before it even took place.

If we take a simple look at the statistics that were declared by the "head of the parliament", Fouad Al-Laham, we find that the fabrication is evident. He placed the individuals who allegedly voted for Assad in a predicament before the official announcement of the election's results.

Al-Laham claimed that 11,634,412 voters, both inside and outside of Syria, participated in the vote out of a total of 15,845,575 voters who were eligible to participate. This means that Assad won 88.7 per cent of the vote and that 73.42 per cent of the Syrian people participated, according to Al-Laham.

A closer inspection of these figures reveals that Assad won the elections by an 88.7 per cent majority based on 10,319,723 valid votes. Yet, based on Al-Laham's claims, Assad won the vote by a majority that exceeds 92 per cent based on valid votes and 88.7 based on valid and invalid votes combined.

The fabricated nature of the election is revealed further by other statistics that were announced by the regime and those that were published by the official news agency, SANA, which claimed, "The number of Syrian citizens that were of age and eligible to vote as outlined by the constitution was 15,845,575 within the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic and abroad." That figure is around 70 per cent of the total population of 22.5 million, based on 2012 statistics.

In 2011, however, the Central Bureau of Statistics published data which grouped the population by age; approximately 37 per cent of the population was aged 15 or under. If we add this number to the number of citizens that the regime claims was eligible to vote we find that the government increased Syria's total population by approximately 40 per cent. This means that according to the figures published by the regime, Syria's population exceeds 22.5 million. Furthermore, the areas of Syria still controlled by the regime do not have 11 million citizens within them. This figure does not take into account the millions of Syrians displaced by the war.

Human rights organisations report that more than 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes and areas of origin and approximately 3.5 million are refugees. Approximately 40 per cent of the Syrian population lives in areas that are outside of the regime's control and as such they did not vote for the regime or participate in the election in any way. This means that at least 8 million Syrians did not participate in Assad's presidential vote, which many activists in those areas have dubbed "the blood election".

The Assad regime coerced state employees and officials, as well as university students, into being present on the day of the election. In addition, it is alleged that the regime stole ID cards and voted on behalf of their legitimate owners. It also forced dissenters to become "prisoners of war" in areas under regime control, it is claimed, and take part in the vote. Checkpoints on the Syria-Lebanon border were turned into voting booths and anyone crossing was forced to vote before being allowed to pass.

Among the absurdities of this election is that the high electoral committee allegedly placed 64 polling stations in the Mezze 86 neighbourhood, an area with a population not exceeding five thousand people at most. Despite their unshakeable support for the regime, the residents of this neighbourhood were surprised to find such a number of polling stations for them to use.

What is even more absurd is that the expatriate vote was monitored by representatives and officials from Russia and Iran in countries like Uganda, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Venezuela, the Philippines and Tajikistan, none of which are known for having a genuine democratic culture.

It comes as no surprise that this delegation of spectators from Iran was headed by the Deputy Foreign Minister for the Arab World and Africa, Hussein Amir Abdul, who is known for having been extremely hostile to the Green Revolution that was suppressed by the Iranian government. Similarly, the Russian monitors were headed by Sergei Gavrilov, the Chairman of the Duma's Security Council who was praised among Assad's supporters at the polls, but certainly not for his integrity or impartiality.

If the regime's goal in holding the election was to restore some sense of lost legitimacy, then it must be said that it has failed to do so. The main reason for this is that the entire Syrian opposition boycotted the vote and refused to nominate or allow any opposition candidate to stand, not least because the results were pre-determined. More importantly, all opposition and revolutionary parties inside the country agreed to unite on this front, despite their differing political agendas, in their unanimous efforts to overthrow the regime.

Perhaps Bashar Al-Assad is proud of this election and the fact that he will continue to be the president of a republic that is built on the skulls, lives and livelihood of his own people. He is proud to continue the legacy of his father, Hafez Al-Assad, who destroyed the city of Hama and suppressed Aleppo. The indescribable violence that took place under the direction of the president's uncle, Rifaat Al-Assad, led to many widespread massacres that were directed primarily at political prisoners.

Much like his son, Hafez Al-Assad claimed to win the presidential election following these massacres with a 99.9 to 100 per cent majority. Yet, eventually, the allegiance that he claimed to possess soon turned into a fait accompli, a trademark of Assad's republic of fear. The constitution was changed within a matter of five minutes so that the Syrian democratic republic could be turned into a hereditary republic, one where Bashar Al-Assad could inherit his father's rule in dictatorial style. This was unprecedented in Syria's modern history.

There is not a single sane person in this world who would not condemn the regime's unrivalled audacity to even attempt to turn this blood election into a "national celebration" that truly is the result of nothing more than Iran and Russia's attempt to incorporate Syria into their sphere of influence. The election was a sham which sought to regain the regime's semblance of legitimacy, which it lost on a domestic level on the first day of the revolution. The regime would later lose its international legitimacy as well. It has turned into a systematic killer because this is the only tool it has to prove its legitimacy or justify its existence.

In his alleged presidential victory, Bashar Al-Assad believes that he has won his war against the Syrian people. He even went so far as to create a new slogan to use in the face of Syrian revolutionaries: "Al-Assad [for President] or no one."

With the regime's barbaric practices comes a new slogan: "We will destroy the country if it means preserving Assad's Syria." In his struggle to cling to power, Assad has no qualms about continuing his father's violent legacy, which is destroying Syria's people, history, culture and livelihood, so that Syria may remain Assad's Syria. This is nothing new. Assad's father had no qualms about killing any of his friends or colleagues in the government and military if it meant that he would maintain the authority he gained when he rose to power through a military coup on 16 November 1970. The latest "election" changes nothing.

The message is that the regime will continue despite everything that is happening in Syria and despite the will of the majority of the Syrian people. The regime wants to reinforce the message that it will remain in power regardless of the countless documented and undocumented crimes that have been committed against the people. Even so, it will never gain the sense of legitimacy that it craves and this will be Assad's nightmare until the day that his regime falls.

Translated from Al Jazeera net, 6 June 2014

 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

Categories
ArticleMiddle EastSyria
Show Comments
Order your copy of our latest book - Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas's Foreign Policy - Palestine
Show Comments