Everyone knows that the Syrian presidential ‘elections’ on 3 June 2014 are a farce. But it may be useful to remember why, and to consider the message the Iranian regime is sending to the world via these elections.
First, there have never been free and fair elections in Syria since Hafez al-Assad, the father of the current president, Bashar al-Assad, took power in an internal military coup in 1970. Presidential ‘elections’ during Hafez’s rein were called “renewing the pledge” (تجديدالبيعة).
Second, Bashar al-Assad literally inherited the presidency from his father in 2000. Bashar was brought back from the UK after his father fell ill and his elder brother Basil died in a car accident in 1994. Basil was supposed to succeed Hafez. So, in 2000, Bashar al-Assad was appointed as president by the ruling inner circle after the constitution was hastily changed in 2000 so as to lower the minimum age for presidency candidates from 40 to 34, which was his age at the time.
Third, two other candidates alongside Bashar al-Assad are also running for presidency on 3 June 3 2014: ‘Independent’ Member of Parliament Maher al-Hajjar and Hassan al-Nouri, a businessman who was part of the ‘tolerated Syrian opposition’. Both were hand-picked by the Pasdaran to pretend the elections were free and fair.
Fourth, no real opposition candidate was allowed to run against Bashar al-Assad because the election law does not allow Syrians in exile to stand for election. Many opposition leaders had been forced into exile as a result of the regime clampdown against them. Moreover, every candidate had to have the support of at least 35 Members of Parliament in order to be nominated, but everyone knows that the Syrian parliament is totally controlled by the regime.
Fifth, in theory, every Syrian over the age of 18 can vote, including some seven million internally displaced people. The regime-controlled Constitutional Court said the elections would take place in “all cities” other than al-Raqqa, which is controlled by the al-Qaeda-linked militia the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS). In reality, there will be no elections in vast regions controlled by the rebels, including many suburbs and rural areas around the country as well as large parts of big cities such as Aleppo and Deir al-Zzor. French news agency AFP reported that elections will be held in about 40% of the Syrian territory (see http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/869528/la-presidentielle-syrienne-en-6-points.html).
Sixth, only 200,000 of the three million Syrian refugees living abroad were registered as voters at 39 Syrian embassies around the world.
Seventh, the Syrian elections are ‘monitored’ by a delegation from the Iranian regime. The aim is obviously to monitor any possible dissent and repress it straight away. That’s what Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Sepah Pasdaran and the Basij did in Iran after the 2009 elections, and that’s what they will do in Syria if things do not go their way. See http://www.naameshaam.org/en/iranian-regime-to-monitor-syrian-presidential-elections/
Like many Syrians, we at Naame Shaam believe that the elections on 3 June are nothing but a cruel joke but with a clear message the shadow puppet master to Western powers, Sepah Pasdaran General Qassem Soleimani:
– Accept it: Syria and Lebanon, where our Hezbollah foot soldiers control large parts of the country and most of its institutions, are still effective cards in our hands. Iraq’s government is a card in our hands, too.
– Face it: I am de facto ruler of Syria and Lebanon, and Bashar al-Assad is nothing but a puppet in my hands.
– Swallow it: Accept our dream of becoming a regional power with a nuclear bomb.
– No escape from it: You have to negotiate with us seriously about our nuclear plans and scrap all economic sanctions against Iran, or else Hezbollah will rain Israel with our missiles and we will export violence from Syria to the rest of the world.
Gen Soleimani is the chief of Sepah Qods, a division of Sepah Pasdaran which fully controls the armed forces of the Assad regime, as well as its policies and economy. Sepah Pasdaran’s foot soldiers, Hezbollah Lebanon and Iraqi militias, have been fighting all major battles in Syria.
This is why Naame Shaam had launched a mock ‘election campaign’ to vote Gen Soleimani as president of Syria, and Bashar al-Assad as his deputy. See http://www.naameshaam.org/en/naame-shaam-launches-new-election-campaign-vote-for-iranian-gen-qassem-soleimani-as-president-of-syria-and-bashar-al-assad-as-his-deputy/
See also our “election rally” in front of the Iranian embassy in London on 2 June 2014: http://www.naameshaam.org/en/iranian-activists-stage-mock-syrian-election-rally-outside-london-embassy-to-highlight-irans-interference-in-syrian-conflict/