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Syria to hold presidential election

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Syria to hold presidential election

Syrian elections
Photo: Baraa al-Halabi/ AFP/ Getty

Syrian presidential elections will be held today.

For only the second time in history, Damascus will allow for multi-party elections. Incumbent President Bashar al-Assad will run against Salloum Abdallah and Mahmoud Marei, in what is largely viewed by Western nations as an illegitimate and undemocratic election.

The opaque election process highlights both Assad’s grip on the country and the failure of UN-backed efforts at securing peace in the region through constitutional reform. On top of an election victory, the Assad regime will likely continue building rapport with Russia, Iran and China—all of whom are invited to inspect the election.

While Assad’s legitimacy as an elected leader will not grow by Western standards, courting regional competitors—such as a détente with Riyadh’s Intelligence chiefs—is expected to consolidate Assad’s clout and power in the Middle East. Expect the overwhelming election victory to validate Moscow’s military presence in the region and signal to Tehran, Beijing and other authoritative powers that regime change is not inevitable. In the short-term, expect French and US condemnation of the process to wither, particularly as attention is paid to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict.

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