Polls amid war

June 02, 2014 - 1:18:15 am

The Syrian election is nothing but a state-enforced farce.

It’s rarely that elections are held during civil war. And when they are held, they have a certain predictability and elements of farce built into it – as in Syria, where President Bashar Al Assad is predicted to win. That Assad should be holding an election now when swathes of the country are still out of government control speaks of the desperation of a leader determined to move on. This is an election whose outcome is already known and where no western observers will be present to check its fairness. But Iran said that delegations from nine countries will monitor the election, including from regime allies Russia and Iran. Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi said he would travel today to Damascus along with MPs from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Venezuela, Tajikistan and the Philippines to link up with Russian and Lebanese teams.

The election will be held tomorrow, the campaigning for which ended yesterday. Interestingly, there are three candidates in the fray including Assad. His opponents, or rather token rivals, are MP Maher Al Hajjar and businessman Hassan Al Nouri, both of whom are little known and are contesting to lose.

Assad’s main objective is to show the world that Syria is returning to normalcy and the situation on the ground is conducive for holding the poll. He is telling the international community that as far as he is concerned, the war has come to an end and it’s time to move on with governance. As expected, the divided opposition has chosen to boycott the election and urged the voters to boycott too.  They have called the election a parody of democracy but will not be able to disrupt the poll process in areas where Assad is still in power.

It’s difficult to gauge what benefits Assad will derive from the poll as the international community has already taken a stand on the Syrian issue. The election will not bring more countries to his side, and those Syrians who are on his side don’t need an election to reiterate their support for him. France, Germany and Belgium have barred the election from taking place on their territory, as did several Arab countries.

As Assad returns for a third seven-year term while the army makes advances on the battlefield, millions of Syrians will only be able to weep at how their revolution has failed. The west has chosen to leave Syrians to their fate, and Arab countries, which are keen to help their brethren in Syria, are stuck in a cul-de-sac, unable to find a way forward. And the opposition remains fragmented, pulling in different directions and sometimes fighting each other.

In such a bleak and hopeless scenario, an election is nothing but a state-enforced farce.