Syrians went to polling stations Tuesday for the country’s first multicandidate presidential election, sending out a resounding “message of victory.”
Syrian officials were keen to declare that President Bashar Assad’s re-election marked the beginning of a new phase, one that would lead to a political settlement to end the war. The signs of compromise were clear on election day, as airstrikes and bombs continued to target the many areas that have slipped out of the regime’s control.
The leadership was insistent that the polls proceed, even though hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or wounded, millions have been displaced or forced to flee the country and an entire generation has lost any hope of leading a normal, prosperous life.
As for the “democratic credentials” of the new leadership, buoyed by Tuesday’s popular mandate, these were bolstered by the presence of observers and “guests” from a range of countries that have pioneered “democratic practices” in recent years: Russia, Iran, North Korea, Uganda, Tajikistan and Zimbabwe, to name just a few.
Meanwhile, the many countries backing the opposition have been consistent as well – issuing harsh words about the polls being conducted by the regime, which, as everyone knows, fears nothing as much as verbal condemnations.
As for those who enthused about Tuesday’s vote being an expression of democratic choice, and danced and celebrated while their countrymen lay dying, judgment of their actions should take place elsewhere.
In the end, the vote was a clear-cut victory, one directed squarely against Syria and the Syrian people.