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06/01/2021

Experts evaluated recent Syrian elections to UWI

Experts evaluated recent Syrian elections to UWI

Experts commented to United World International on the recent Syrian elections and the victory of current Syrian President Bashar Assad, who achieved 95.1 percent of the votes. They argued that a new era would begin in Syria. They expect steps of normalization, stating that Syria will focus on reconstruction, meanwhile the country will continue to fight against terrorism. On the international arena, various powers from Gulf to Europe will speed up their efforts to improve relations with Damascus. On the other hand, Syrian refugees in Turkey and the Syrians who are living under Turkish Arm forces controlled areas were not allowed to vote by Ankara, causing Turkey to miss an important opportunity to improve relations with Damascus.

We discussed the results of the Syrian presidential elections and their international repercussions with Mehmet Yuva, Professor at the University of Damascus and Prof. Dr. Semih Koray, Head of International Relations Bureau of the Vatan Party (Turkey).

Turkey should have placed a ballot boxes for Syrians

Prof. Dr. Mehmet Yuva started his evaluation with discussing, whether the elections in Syria were democratic or not.

‘’The elections were followed by observers from many countries of the world on the spot. Representatives from many countries such as Russia, India, China and Venezuela closely followed and reported on the election process.

The Syrian government officially invited both the United Nations Security Council and the European Union to observe the elections on the spot. The elections didn’t take place only in Syria. Syrians living outside Syria also had the right to vote. Syrians went to the ballot boxes for 3 days and voted in many countries of the world. The largest participation in the elections took place in Lebanon and Jordan. Thousands of Syrians used their right to vote in these countries. Syrians voted even in France, which stated that it wouldn’t recognize these elections. There were only few countries where ballot boxes could not be placed, among them Turkey and Germany. Russian officials diplomatically communicated with Turkish authorities to enable voting in Turkey, but unfortunately they did not succeed. Ballot boxes were also not established and voting was also impossible in territories in Syria under control of the Turkish Armed Forces, the US and YPG/PKK control.

If there are about 3.5 million Syrians living in Turkey and around 1 million in the region under the control of Turkish Armed Forces and if Ankara thinks that the elections in Syria are not democratic; then right thing to do was to put ballot boxes in those areas and enable approximate 4.5 Syrians to vote. This way we could see closely whom Syrians vote for as president. In Lebanon, for example, hundreds of thousands of Syrians, who had to emigrate because of some religious groups’ attacks, even used their rights to vote under difficult conditions. Syrians living in Kuwait and Oman also went to vote for 2 days, although they weren’t obliged to. Syrians living in Saudi Arabia received special permission and went to Kuwait to vote there. Therefore, the allegations that these elections are not democratic and they were held under pressure of the Syrian government do not reflect the truth. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians demonstrated their support to elections in Syria. We have also seen this support on televisions, which aired huge public gatherings in support for the elections.

Efforts to contacts with Damascus will accelerate

Prof. Dr. Yuva evaluated the importance of the elections for Syria and in terms of international conjuncture. Yuva stated:

Syria has shown its power to hold elections on schedule despite the war that has been going on for 10 years. The government could have postponed the elections because of the war. However, every time when elections were due, even in 2014, when the fighting was most intense, Syria showed the determination for elections and went to ballot boxes. Voting is very important for the formation of political will, as the public will can only reflected by elections. Although Germany, France, England and Italy declared that they will not recognize the election results as they consider them illegitimate, Italian government officials have since the last week been working on reopening Italian embassy in Damascus. Here, we see once again the hypocrisy of the West. The same is valid for Germany, as it is working to re-start relations with Damascus by frequently conducting diplomatic contacts with Syria. We will see that the European countries will accelerate their efforts to reestablish relations with Damascus from now on.

Saudi Arabia, which is directly involved in this war financially and by sending weapons, finally sent its intelligence chief to Damascus and said that they wanted to re-open their embassy and improve their relations with Syria last week. The process of reintegrating Syria into Arab League will accelerate from now on. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) did the same.

Anti-Syrian attitude is harming Turkey’s national interests

Yuva interpreted the election results for Turkey and emphasized that, although Saudi Arabia and UAE were Ankara’s closes ally in the Syrian war, they now have become enemies and continued as follows:

These regimes have improved their relations with Syria and sent delegations to Damascus. They are trying to prevent any recovery of relations that might happen between Damascus and Ankara.

The West is also trying to stop Turkey from reestablishing relations with Damascus by supporting these attempts of Saudi Arabia and UAE. Unfortunately, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign affairs can’t comprehend these developments correctly and objectively.

If they had interpreted the situation correctly, they would have put ballot box for Syrians to vote in these elections, as suggested by Russia, and would send important messages: ‘We are not taking sides in the elections held in Syria, Syrian people has right to choose.’

At the ballot box, Syrians would vote for either Assad or the opposition candidates. Turkey could also have sent its own observers to election sites to follow up and share the results with the public. Secondly, Turkey could have prevented the moves made by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and thus stopped Anti-Turkish propaganda towards Damascus by creating conditions to meet with Damascus.

Turkey had an opportunity to get in touch with Syria in order to prevent the US, Israeli and Western countries’ plans carried out by the PKK / YPG in the region. Ankara missed a very good opportunity in these elections. Adversity policies against Damascus are not in advantage of Turkey’s national interest. Just as Turkey’s national interests needed improving relations with Egypt, only recovering diplomatic and political relations with Syria will save Turkey from the huge domestic and international attacks it suffers currently.

Syria showed its determination to the whole world

Prof. Dr. Semih Koray head of International Relations Bureau of the Vatan Party (Turkey) evaluated the results as follows:

The electoral victory of Bashar Assad is a declaration of determination from the Syrian people to the whole world. This people have been fighting for the independence and territorial integrity of their homeland, with great self-sacrifice for ten years.

To describe the election as a ‘show’ is an effort to cover up the facts that the elections displayed to the world. Syria is today fighting against US-Israeli aggression at the forefront of humanity. While defending itself, Syria also defends all the countries of the region.

Ankara and Damascus’ cooperation will be the PKK’s nightmare

Stating that there were no other periods in history where the destinies of Turkey, Syria and countries of the region were as common as today, Koray continued as follows:

The territorial integrity of Syria means the territorial integrity of Turkey. Bringing peace and tranquility to our region depends on the partnership of the countries of region, which are facing US and Israeli pressure and threats.  It is the same sources that attack these two countries and send separatist and fanatic terrorist organizations upon them. Success depends on the cooperation of these countries, which also needs to be applied to the conflict zone. The cooperation between Damascus and Ankara will be nightmare of the US, Israel and the PKK /PYD, as the latter is used by the formers as ‘ground force’. Such cooperation has the power to change the current balances not only in the region but also in the world, without using any military and economic resources at all. The trust shown by the Syrian people, which is fighting for its homeland, to Bashar Assad in the elections should be considered as an opportunity to reestablish this cooperation.

Elif İlhamoğlu
Elif İlhamoğlu is political scientist and  journalist (Turkey). She is studying for PHD on the political science and international relations department at Istanbul University (Middle East studies). She visited Middle East countries, Syria, Lebanon, Iran several times and did interviews with the leaders as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hilal al-Hilal Secretary General of the Syrian Ba'ath Party.

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