Syria is on the cusp of entering a new era. Ballots have been cast and the turnover has been rather large. In spite of Westerners’ reaction, this election has turned out to be popular with the people and the hope for a better future is in the air once again.
While this piece is being written, Syrian presidential election is underway in full force. Throughout these past days, thousands of Syrians flocked to ballot boxes, in order to show their solidarity with the government and the candidate with whom they share their affinity. Just on Wednesday, pictures of Damascus streets and the people swarming around the polling stations amazed those sceptics who used to mock the country, claiming that no one would be going to “a sham election” but Syrians subverted all expectations. There have even been reports that a host of people from Idlib, still under the control of the opposition, have travelled to neighbouring provinces to vote in the favour of their preferred candidate. According to Syria’s interior minister Mohammad Rahmoun more than 12 thousands polling stations have been established to accommodate the 18 million Syrian who were eligible to vote.
On Wednesday, Syria’s incumbent president and this year’s frontrunner Bashar al-Assad along with his wife, Syrian First Lady Asma Assad, cast their votes in Douma, a remote city located far from the capital. Douma, believed to have been a haven for the opposition these past years, embraced Assad with open arms, showing just how much the perceptions have changed since war broke out within the region. Back in those days, Douma was fiercely involved in the war against the Syrian government, even housing high-profile figures at one point. Even so, people of Douma seemed happier than ever for after a very long time, Assad’s victory could guarantee the one thing they wished for since the beginning of war: stability.
Assad’s probable victory however is likely to be undermined by those who wished him removed from the equation. So far, they haven’t been trying to mask their displeasure either and it is unlikely for them to change their attitude in the future. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced his criticism of Syria’s 2021 election, saying that the election is “neither free nor fair”. In his tweet on Wednesday, Blinken berated the Syrian government for the circumstances surrounding the election, claiming that Assad is trying to consolidate his position by holding this year’s election which would allow him to “regain his legitimacy” in the world. Blinken further remarked that countries like the UK, France, Germany and Italy would not acknowledge the result of this election. Even so, Assad had seemingly been prepped for this moment, announcing that he couldn’t care less about the opinions of countries with “colonial history” behind them and that their statements wouldn’t matter to the government of Syria.
Although the western countries have spared no effort in delegitimizing this election in the eyes of the world using the vast media outlets at their disposal, for the people of Syria this election is about something much bigger. Whether they agree with Assad or not, the people living in Syria see him as the only viable path toward restoration. The vote they cast in the name of Bashar al-Assad is not necessarily a vote in his favour but it definitely is a vote to end the war. Right now, Bashar is the only one capable of bringing stability to land for no matter how legitimate they might appear before the international community, the rebel groups still cannot reconcile their differences and a vote in their favour or no vote at all would further tear Syria apart. This is what vexes the Westerners the most; to see that the Syrian people genuinely wish for peace instead of prolonging this war, to see their homes restored instead of being razed . Because of this new-found sense of purpose, legitimacy would soon return and that would put an end to all the plots to dismantle the Syrian government. For now at least, that future is guaranteed and that alone should be cause for celebration.