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Why Bashar al-Assad’s elections are a ‘cruel joke’

Qatt_2014_electionsAs the Syrian regime announced its plans to hold presidential elections in June 2014, the Huffington Post published a good summary of why this is “another cruel joke played on Syria’s suffering population.” The five reasons listed by Eline Gordts’ article, which was published on 21 April 2014, include:

1. Who will dare to run against al-Assad?
2. How will the millions of refugees vote?
3. Polls will only be organised in those parts of the country under regime control.
4. Would you risk being hit by a bomb or an improvised explosive device in order to go vote?
5. The elections will likely torpedo the teeny, tiny bit of hope that’s left for peace talks.

Source: Huffington Post
The caricature is by Syrian cartoonist Mwafaq Qatt. Source:


Remember these points next time you hear Iranian officials talking about a “peaceful solution” and “free and democratic elections” in Syria, like president Rouhani did earlier this year (see

Ayatollah Khamenei is trying hard to see his man in Syria win the ‘elections’, as he did with past ‘free and democratic elections’ in Iran, which he controlled by force with the help of the Guardian Council.
But Bashar Al-Assad has lost all legitimacy, not least since the start of the Syrian revolution in March 2011. In fact, he has never been a legitimate president. After his father Hafez al-Assad died in 2000, the constitution was hastily changed to fit him so he could inherit the crown. Since then, not a single election in Syria has been free and democratic.

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