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Syria’s Presidential Elections after Years of War

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The Syrian Parliament announced that presidential elections will be held next month. In a move likely to keep power in the hands of President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad is not expected to face serious competition, despite the continuing armed conflict and worsening economic crisis plaguing the country.

After 10 years of fighting, the government controls most of Syria’s major population centers.

Some 400,000 people were killed in the armed conflict. More than half of the population displaced due to this conflict.

The duration of presidency

The speaker of the Parliament, Hamouda Sabbagh, announced that the process of electing a president for a new 7-year period would take place on 26 May.

Syrians living abroad are scheduled to cast their votes at embassies on May 20.

Presidential elections

This is the second presidential election since the beginning of the armed conflict.

The first elections held in 2014 and ended with Assad winning 92 % of the vote.

But the Syrian opposition called it undemocratic and illegitimate. And the United States and the European Union rejected its results as well.

The 2014 elections were the first in decades for candidates outside the Assad family. But the other two candidates then were not popularly known personalities, and they did not have much publicity.

Assad is running for a new presidential term

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad submitted his candidacy papers for a new term in elections scheduled for May 26.

The speaker of the Syrian parliament told state media. Washington and the opposition denounced the ballot as a” farce aimed at entrenching Assad’s rule.

President Bashar al-Assad is expected to remain in office. Assad, who took office in 2000 to succeed his father Hafez al-Assad, has not yet officially declared his candidacy.

He won the last presidential election in June 2014, by more than 88 percent.

Syrian opposition: presidential elections is a play

Syrian opposition has considered the presidential elections in Syria as a “play

Nasr Hariri, head of the” National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and opposition forces”, which forms the backbone of the Riyadh platform and the High Commission for negotiations, said via Twitter:

“The announcement by the Assad regime of the date of the election will be supervision by the security services, as usual, confirms the misery of this regime and its continued separation from the reality of the Syrian people.”

Hariri accused Assad of being a “war criminal”, saying that Syrians are waiting for them during his rule “more killing, destruction, displacement, displacement, begging, poverty, unemployment, hunger, disease and occupation.

Furthermore, the head of the Political Bureau of the Syrian National Army, Mustafa Seger, said:

“We in the opposition and the forces of the Syrian Revolution are not concerned with this declaration, and we consider Assad’s Parliament to be illegitimate, and his call is invalid”

Closing the door to opponents

Those who wish to apply for the elections must have resided in Syria continuously for the past ten years, closing the door to the possibility of any opposition resident abroad.

Not only that, but to accept his nomination, a candidate needs the approval of at least 35 members of the parliament, which the Al-Assad government controls.

Unlike in 2014, the presidential elections are taking place today with support from the Russian forces. Which retook large areas following massive attacks against opposition factions, and now control about 2/3 of the country.

Washington and European countries are calling for a boycott.

During a UN Security Council meeting last month, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that “these elections will be neither free nor fair”.

The Assad regime will gain no legitimacy, and does not meet the criteria of Resolution 2254, which requires to conduct it under UN supervision or under a new constitution.”

No hope in sight

there is no glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, where there is no hope for Syrian Salvation

Indeed. The regional situation has also changed. The rapprochement between Israel and the Gulf states means Syria is now less of a priority

As the world struggles with the social and economic impacts of coronavirus, President Bashar al-Assad is preparing to run for a third presidential term that will keep him in power for another seven years.

There is a generation of children born during the war, some born in Syria, others in Europe, and in refugee camps.

Unless there is a renewed international commitment, the real change in Syria may not happen as long as he’s alive.

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Children

Children in Syria with no Future

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Source: The Guardian

As per UNICEF, more than 90% of children in Syria, that is 6.5 million children need urgent humanitarian assistance. As many as 2 million could not get life-saving assistance due to difficulty in reaching some areas or areas under siege. It is the highest number since the onset of war in 2011.

For the last 11 years, children in Syria have known nothing but hunger, violence, abuse, war, strikes, explosions, filth, death and loss of family members. They do not know about education, development and happiness. They all need their safety of themselves from war and hunger.

They are living with permanent scars of physical and psychological torment.

UNICEF reported that children in Syria are unable to live with basic amenities and are facing violence and displacement. Around 13000 children have been officially reported to be killed due to landmines, unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants. Millions are displaced. 

Related Article: Let’s Get to Know the Wrecked Childhood of Syrian Children

At such a tender age they are not just facing deaths but losing their dear ones each day and hence, are bearing mental health issues like depression, anxiety, sadness, fatigue and loss of sleep. 

Thousands of children become disabled and are living in more aggrieved situations.

A boy on crutches in Syria
Source: UNICEF/ A boy on crutches in Syria

Families in poverty-stricken Syria could not arrange for the bare minimum food and health necessities due to skyrocketing food prices, rampant unemployment and overall economic degradation. The Ukrainian war crisis also makes the hunger situation worse as the strained grain supply from Russia and Ukraine limits the food grains availability and fuels the food prices further.

It does not seem near possible for Syria to come out of poverty and hardship for continuing political instability and fragility.

Related Article: The suffering of Syrian refugee

In such a scenario, funding for assistance is fast dwindling, says UNICEF. UNICEF reported receiving only half of the funds they need for assistance. An International organisation Care found in its survey that funds are fast running out to support Syrian refugees. We need more funds, political resolutions and will from every party concerned to restore basic systems to provide adequate food and nutrition, clean water, health, safety and education. The international community can not wait to bring peace in Syria.

For the last decade children in Syria are suffering from innumerable open fronts- war, poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Average food basket prices have escalated by about 230%.

Children under the age of five are suffering from the worst form of malnutrition that results in stunting.

Deliberate attacks and destruction of education facilities are one such feature of the Syrian war.

More than 2.4 million children in Syria get out of school and it constitutes 40% of girls. Schools are being destroyed. Many schools are now being used as shelter houses or for military purposes. It is the worst human rights violation by the armed forces to attack schools, teachers and children as their military strategy.

Children are increasingly being recruited into the armed forces causing a security threat.

Medical facilities and educational institutions along with dedicated personnel are attacked.

Living conditions are particularly harsh in northwest Syria where millions of children are displaced.  Life in tents, shelters and broken buildings is very difficult due to harsh climatic conditions like severely cold winters, torrential rains and snow.

Children are languishing in armed and detention camps, especially in northeast Syria. They need repatriation and reintegration with society.

Children in Syria playing near their tent for those who are displaced by the war
Source: Photo by Rodi Said/Reuters/ children in Syria playing near their tent for those who are displaced by the war.

Children are forced to flee their places and become refugees in neighbouring countries. Children along with their parents and sometimes alone make precarious journeys in the Mediterranean sea to reach safe places in Europe.

Related Article: Syrian Refugees at Crossroads in Denmark

Due to extreme poverty or the death of earning members of the family, children are entering the Labour market. Families are giving priority to food over education for their children. The Care in its assessment reports that boys between the age of 13 and 17 are engaging in labour to support their family income. Most refugee households are run by women as their husbands either remain in Syria or are being killed. Such families have no income support. Children are forced to support their mothers in such a financial crisis.

Additionally, sexual violence has become a characteristic of the Syrian conflict. For this reason, the mobility of girls is restricted and they are not allowed to attend school and remain at home.

Parties involved in war must refrain from attacking children and basic life-saving infrastructures like hospitals, clinics, schools, water points, and assistance centres.

Those who are engaged in war must realise that losing or winning a war is useless when it kills humanity and its innocent children. They must come to the peace table to engage in constructive talk and diplomacy instead of the cycle of deaths and endless destitution of people.

Related Article: Syria after Nine Years of War

The international community can come together to put pressure on political parties in Syria and others who are fueling the war sentiments to establish peace and construction in the country.

Individual interests and gains must be drained to bring out peace and tranquillity for all.

Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa praised the perseverance and resolve of the children and young people of Syria. He admired the ability of children to learn, fight the odds, and determination to build a better future.

This generation of innocent children might remain in a perpetual cycle of poverty and hardships with no education, skills, or health at this point in time. Right to education, health and safety are the basics for each and every child in any kind of situation. They should not be denied their rights. It is not just the responsibility of parents but the governments and international communities to come together and provide care and support to each child.

Like all children, children in Syria need care and nurturing.

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Europe

Syria: A Growing Humanitarian Crisis Amid the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

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Condition in Syria

While the world is focused on the Ukraine war and its effect on the Ukrainian people, another country has been slightly forgotten. Syria, a country that has been drenched in a war for the past 11 years has been deeply affected by the Russia Ukraine war.

Already living in poverty, the war has resulted in food insecurity for 60% of the Syrian population. This whopping percentage of Syrians is not able to regularly bring food to the table for their families. This is a country where, according to some figures, 90% of the population lives in poverty. The last thing needed by the Syrian people is to be affected by another conflict while they have yet to recover from their own.  

Rising Food Prices 

The Russia-Ukraine war continues to result in an increase in food and fuel prices that have affected countries around the world. While more wealthy western countries face higher food and fuel prices, it is the war stricken countries who are suffering the most. And as the war continues to rage, the situation is likely to get worse and worse for Syrians. 

Also Read: The suffering of Syrian refugee

The only recent initiative taken by the international community is at the sixth annual Brussels conference, where international donors pledged $6.7bn to Syria and the neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Jordan which are hosting millions of Syrian refugees. 

” Even before the war in Ukraine, 90 per cent of Syria’s population lived in poverty, two-thirds were dependent on humanitarian aid and 55 per cent were food insecure. In December 2021, the UN Food and Agri­culture Organization warned of the risk of famine against the backdrop of severe drought and a steep decline in Syria’s wheat harvest. “

https://www.swp-berlin.org/en/publication/the-war-in-ukraine-and-its-impact-on-syria

In addition to the aforementioned, at the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia announced that it would cancel its commitment to providing wheat to certain areas of Syria that were still controlled by the regime.  For this reason, most of Northwest Syria is suffering a food shortage due to it’s dependency on wheat from Ukraine and Russia. 

Another dire issue affecting the Syrian people is that the World Food Program is highly dependent on Ukrainian wheat and the food supply. Due to the war, rising prices and more people in need of it’s aid around the world, the World Food Program will have to do some drastic changes to it’s system. 

Starting May 2022, it will have to reduce life-saving food assistance to some 1.35 million people in northwestern Syria. While the Syrian regime has adopted austerity measures such as rationing, price controls and export restrictions, it has not been successful in preventing the spiralling of food and energy prices.

The War in Ukraine and Its Impact on Syria

Media Coverage

Another factor in how this war affects Syria is the media coverage. Most of the media coverage is related to the correlation between Russia’s involvement in Syria and it’s tactics of war in Ukraine. Another point that is commonly discussed during media coverage is the fact that Russia may recruit Syrians to fight in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

What needs to be discussed in more detail is the plight of the Syrian people whose basic human needs are not being met. What is commonly not covered in the media is the effect this war is having on the already suffering Syrian people. 

Humanitarian Aid Accessibility

But what is worth noting is that the political focus on the international level on the Ukraine war will likely cause disruption to the process of providing and delivering humanitarian aid to Syria. This is because a lot of the humanitarian assistance is dependent on the existence of the United States and Russian dialogue. But due to the war, this dialogue is almost non-existent. 

Also Read: Children in Syria with no Future

What is also likely to be an issue for Syria in the escalation of the war in Ukraine is that it becomes a battlefield between the West (NATO) and Russia. For this reason, it is required that Europeans ensure that the Bab Al-Hawa crossing of Northwest Syria is accessible for humanitarian aid. This should be done by combining efforts with Turkey and the United States to place pressure on Russia in keeping that crossing open and accessible. 

It is important that we bring attention to the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria. A country that has been drenched in a war for the past 11 years should not suffer any more due to another war.

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Fascism

Is America embracing dictatorship in the Arab world?

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Arab world and America

When Syria’s sectarian tyrant Bashar Assad was facing a hard time, as rebel forces were marching toward Damascus, Israeli War Minister Ehud Barak flew hastily to Washington to warn the Obama administration that the Assad regime must not fall down under all circumstances.

Barak, who became Israel’s 10th Prime Minister, told his interlocutors from the Pentagon and the CIA  that the survival of the Alawite regime was of utmost strategic importance to Israel and that its downfall would be a black day for the Jewish state.

Upon hearing these ominous words, the Obama administration, which had considered supplying the rebels with potent anti-aircraft weapons, Changed its mind abruptly regarding the overthrowing of the repressive regime whose soldiers and death squads were murdering an average of 100-150 Syrian men, women and children per day.

Also Read: The suffering of Syrian refugee

When Syrian opposition leader Moath al-Khatib met the astute Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the top Russian diplomat looked al-Khatib in the eyes and said: Look my friend, America and Israel are even more opposed to ending the Assad regime. Surprisingly, Lavrov was telling the truth, as indicated by a largely ambivalent US policy in Syria whereby the US adamantly refused to allow some Gulf Arab states to provide more advanced varieties of weapons to opposition forces. This attitude was balanced out by vitriolic but innocuous verbal attacks on the autocratic regime. Interestingly, this outrageous policy of hypocrisy and betrayal by Washington toward the virtually helpless Syrian people remains unchanged.

Also Read: Syria: A Growing Humanitarian Crisis Amid the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

  Today, more than a decade after the so-called Arab Spring, when Arab masses sought to extricate themselves and their countries from repressive military regimes and corrupt dynastic rules, the US is shamelessly continuing to consolidate utterly undemocratic  Arab regimes politically and strengthen their security apparatuses. The tacit but candid American message to Arab despots, especially under the Trump administration,  read like this: You are free to treat your own people as you deem fit and necessary for your security and stability, we are not the policeman of the world, We have no intention to interfere with your internal affairs.

 The utterly illegitimate police-state regimes in most Arab countries interpreted the US message as granting them carte blanch to go wild in abusing and further tormenting their respective citizens.

 Hence, the intelligence and security services in these countries  saw  the American message as a green, or at least, yellow light to pursue their critics and other non-conformist voices with an iron hand and “not give a damn about  annoying reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.” Moreover, the interior ministers of the notoriously ineffective organization called the Arab League decided to wage a venomous propaganda campaign, demonizing and criminalizing any person or group demanding human rights and civil liberties as well as a credible justice system to which people with legitimate grievances could appeal.

Also Read: A history of lies: Lying deliberately is Israel’s modus operandi in the West Bank

  In Egypt,  the country’s justice system, paralyzed by years of favoritism nepotism, cronyism, and interference by the state intelligence services,  passed hundreds of death penalties on basically innocent people who wouldn’t even spend a single day in jail in any democratic country that respects itself. Their “crime” was nothing other than their erstwhile political support for former President Muhammed Morsi and the now-outlawed movement of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi died during trial on 17 June 2019 amid credible claims that he was being denied appropriate medical care while in custody. A UN committee described his death as a state-sanctioned crime.

Moreover, the Sisi-appointed parliament passed draconian laws incriminating any person subscribing to the teachings of the  Muslim Brotherhood as “being a member of a terrorist organization” as a crime punishable by death or imprisonment for life.

In Saudi Arabia, the crown prince Muhammed Bin Salman (MBS), is the de facto king Welcomed Trump’s “uncompromising” stance against “terrorism”, and embarked on a rabid campaign of repression against non-conformist voices in the kingdom.

MBS also issued a plethora of decrees, encouraging liberal lifestyles, including mixing of men and women as well as seriously relaxing previous restrictions related to modesty and Hijab.

Ulema who venture to practice “Amr-Bilmaaruf and Nahy Anil-Munkar,” (propagation of virtue and prohibition of vice)  like Salman al Oudeh, is thrown into jail indefinitely until they recant or die.

Moreover, the Saudi Mukhabarat (intelligence) instructed bloggers and internet surfers throughout the kingdom to shower praise on Jews and Israelis while cursing and abusing  Palestinians. I remember a blogger arguing that the Aqsa Mosque belonged to Jews, not to Muslims and that Muslims were actually usurpers and invaders of the land of Israel.

UA

Like the autocrat of Saudi Arabia, the  Emirati leader, a man with very little formal education, apart from the numerous honorary Ph.Ds he either purchased, or were bestowed on him by sycophants, or money-hungry educational institutions fell in love with Israel and everything Jewish.

Also Read: Abrahams Accord: Peace Deal Between UAE and Israel

Muhammed Bin Zayed (MBZ)  launched a witch-hunt campaign against all free voices, promoting human rights and civil liberties. He also promoted a strain of Salafism, known as Madakhella,  teaching that obeying the leader is more important than performing  Salat and Zakat.  The discredited scholars who are following the regime’s line, also taught that invoking liberty and democracy was tantamount to blaspheme and Kufr.

MBZ opened up to Israel without limits and without borders, raising the eyebrows of many Israeli intellectuals who wondered whether MBZ had secretly embraced Talmudic Judaism.

Some of the eccentric feats he did included, were the UAE decision to rescue a bankrupt Israeli soccer Club (Betar), which is notorious for its anti-Arab racism, and building a large synagogue in Abu  Dhabi although the number of native Emirati Jews there are less than a dozen. This week, MBZ  decided to dispatch a squadron of Emirati Jet fighters to take part in Israel’s airshow marking the Palestinian Nakba, and the dispersal of millions of Palestinians to the four winds. 

One Emirati intellectual, Dr Dhabya al-Meheri, made an innocuous criticism of this clarion moral collapse. The next day, she found herself fettered in solitary confinement and shackled in solitary detention, all to appease and please Israel and her guardian- ally, the land of the First Amendment and Statue of Liberty.

Finally, we have the king of Morocco who has decided to “succumb” to Netanyahu’s glamorous solicitations by betraying the Palestinian cause.

Also Read: The so-called Abraham Accords: A vicious Zionist scheme designed to liquidate the Palestinian cause

This is the very man who carries the official title of “Amirul Mu’mineen” or Commander of the Faithfull. However, his behaviour, policies, lifestyle, foreign relations, and above all,  commitment to Islam and Islamic causes have nothing to do with true Islam or with the real commanders of the Muslim Umma, like Omar Ibn al-Khattab and Ali ibn Abi Taleb, may Allah be pleased with them.

This  king, strangely enough, insists that all Moroccans from the simple citizen from the countryside to the Prime minister must bow and kneel down once they approach the throne of “his majesty.” Even Muhammed Rasulullah, the greatest man to have ever walked on earth, didn’t do such a thing, which is a kind of Shirk!

The King of Morocco, too, opened up to Israel without borders and limits, claiming, mendaciously of course, that he did it for the benefit of the Palestinians.

So why do these unelected leaders, who are supposed to shield the Umma from any harm,  indulge in this perfidy against Islam and Muslims.?

The answer is very simple. These people are slaves of America which itself is a slave of Zionism, namely Israel.

Also Read: Religious Fascism in India & Israel: Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Needless to say,  these “venerable”  kings and emirs are first and foremost answerable to America which keeps them in power and grants them certificates of good conduct on Israel’s behalf.

Such are the rulers that Israel and America are superimposing on hundreds of millions of Arabs from Bahrain to Casablanca. And if you don’t like them then you are a murderous terrorist or Jihadi Islamist, deserving a thousand capital punishments! (end)    

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