July 28, 2021

In Syria, the scene of a presidential election played out in advance

In the script, it is a race for power between three candidates that was played out, Wednesday, May 26, with the presidential election in Syria. But the portraits of the Syrian head of state, at the head of the country for more than twenty years, omnipresent in Damascus, are accompanied by unequivocal slogans: “We choose the future. We choose Bashar Al-Assad. “ The results were not known on Thursday morning, but the outcome is without suspense: the two competitors selected for form, Abdallah Salloum Abdallah, a former minister, and Mahmoud Ahmed Mareï, an interior opponent, have no chance to win. At best they can hope for a jump seat in a future government. Bashar Al-Assad will begin a fourth term of seven years.

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How many Syrians will have voted in the crumbling country, where hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, and millions displaced or exiled, in ten years of conflict? – with as its starting point the bloody repression by the pro-regime forces of the popular revolt, which turned into a rapidly internationalized war. The closure of polling stations, on two-thirds of the territory under loyalist control, had been postponed to midnight on Wednesday, due “Strong influx”.

But in the Daraa region, cradle of the Syrian uprising, in the south, where the unrest has not ceased since the “reconciliation” sealed under Russian aegis in 2018 between the insurgents and the regime, calls for boycott – “Do not elect the criminal of our time” – ruined the high mass. In the Kurdish regions of the northeast, under American protection, the vote did not take place. No more than in the part of the province of Idlib, in the north-west, under Turkish influence and held by jihadist and rebel groups: the « farce » electoral campaign was mocked.

An election “neither free nor fair”

Bashar Al-Assad chose a symbolic place to vote: Douma, in the suburbs of Damascus, a former rebel stronghold, reconquered militarily in 2018. As if it were to underline, in the midst of the destruction, that the regime has survived war and that all uprising is a thing of the past. The opposition in exile is very weak, and was excluded from the ballot.

The city of Douma is a place of dispute between the West and Syria: a chlorine attack was carried out there during the 2018 offensive. The West then accused the regime’s forces of having perpetrated it before, in retaliation, of carrying out attacks. strikes on Syrian military installations. French, German, Italian, British and American foreign ministers condemned an election on Tuesday “Neither free nor fair. “. Bashar Al-Assad answered them from Douma: “The value of your opinions is zero. “

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