Thousands of Syrians queued at polling stations in government controlled areas on Tuesday to cast their ballots for the country’s next president. Current President Bashar al-Asad will almost certainly win the election in a process seen as illegitimate by rebels and the international community alike.
Voting started at 7am across the county in areas currently held by the Syrian government. Damascus remained under a tight security presence for most of the day, with troops searching cars at checkpoints throughout the city.
Asad supporters planting posters. (Photo: AFP)
While Assad technically faces two challengers in the election, the race was designed to show support for Asad, not provide a meaningful choice for Syrians. Both opponents are relatively unknowns who were approved by the Assad-controlled “parliament” to run. Additionally, polling was conducted in areas that have some of his most ardent supporters, such as Alawites and other minority Christian groups.
Tuesday election comes amid Asad’s third year of fighting against fractious rebel groups. The regime has recently made advances in major cities such as Homs and Aleppo. As the government’s momentum continues, Assad’s forces continue to commit war crimes through the use of barrel bombs and chlorine gas.
The poll also highlights the failure of the international community to remove Assad from power. Even after waging warfare against his own people, Western countries are still willing to let him remain in command. Today, former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford explained that he resigned from the U.S. government because he could no longer support the Obama Administration’s policy of inaction.