Syrian Elector plans a live around the clock coverage of the Syrian Parliamentary elections, starting Saturday evening and ending on Monday evening. Reactions by average citizens, experts, opposition figures, and academics, even US officials when possible, links to relevant articles and reports will be included. And so will your comments, if you have any to make. Your views, analyses, remembrances and/or jokes on this interesting showpiece of Baath dramatizations and on elections and reforms in Syria in general will be appreciated by one and all at Syrian Elector and will be inserted all through the ongoing commentary on events. Write in either Arabic or English, the Syrian Elector Team will take care of the translation. Direct your correspondence to: tharwacolamus @ gmail.com
Of course, and in response to Wasim’s comment below, people may choose to comment directly on the coverage, just as they do here. the Syrian Elector Team can highlight chosen comments in their ongoing commentary in the main post. Thanks for pointing the necessity of making this clarifcation, Wasim. The coverage has already begun, and should pick up steam as we go.
“…it’s ironic, isn’t it, that any time a democracy begins to take hold in the Middle East, extremist groups prevent that democracy from moving forward. One such democracy is Lebanon, a wonderful little country. And yet there is a Syrian influence — Syria uses not only their own agents inside the country, but Hezbollah, to destabilize this young democracy. And Hezbollah is funded by Iran. In other words, the Iranian regime’s current posture is to destabilize young democracies. And they’re doing so in Iraq, as well….
Now, a lot of what Baker-Hamilton talked about was — or some of what they talked about was the diplomatic initiatives. There were — they talked about a regional conference, and we’re happy to participate. They also suggested that the United States enter into bilateral negotiations with Syria, for example. And this is where I have a disagreement. As you know — as you may not know, when I was a younger lad, Jimmy Baker was in Houston and a good friend of my family’s, and in spite of my deep affection for him, I invited him into the Oval Office and said, I disagree with you. And he said, fine, I disagree with you. (Laughter.)
And the reason I do is because — now, there’s a difference between a regional conference, in my judgment, and — I’ll tell you what I hope we can gain out of it — but I do want to address why it’s — I think it would be counterproductive at this point to sit down with the Syrians, because Syria knows exactly what it takes to get better relations with the United States. It’s not as if they haven’t heard what we’re for. And we’re for making sure they leave the Lebanese democracy alone. They have undermined Lebanon’s democracy. When the United States and France worked together on a U.N. resolution, the U.N. demanded that they leave Lebanon. They did, but they’re still meddling.
Secondly, there’s a man who was assassinated, named Hariri. It’s very important that there be a full investigation of the Hariri murder. And they know we expect them to support that investigation. We believe they’re hindering that investigation right now. Thirdly, they’re providing safe haven for — I’ll just say they’ve got — Hamas and Hezbollah have got centers of influence in Damascus. That’s unacceptable to the United States. We have made it clear to them that in order for them to have better relations that they must rid their capital of these organizations, all aimed at wreaking havoc in the Middle East, and preventing, for example, the development of a peaceful Palestinian state that can live with Israel side by side in peace.
And, finally, Syria is a transit way for suicide bombers heading into Iraq. And some, they have been particularly unhelpful in achieving peace we want. What happens when people go sit down with Bashar Assad, the President of Syria, he walks out and holds a press conference, and says, look how important I am; people are coming to see me; people think I’m vital. But he hasn’t delivered on one request by the free world.
I asked our security folks, the national security folks to give me a list of all the foreign advisors and foreign secretaries of state, and all the people that have gone to see Bashar Assad. And every time they send one in there, we say, why, why are you sending somebody there, what is your intention, what have you asked them to do? They all say basically what I just said, and nothing has happened. And my attitude is, is that I think talks would be counterproductive. I’m interested not in process, I’m interested in results. I’m interested in this leader turning Syria into a positive influence for peace, not an obstructionist to peace.
MR. CARPENTER: Okay. All right. Thank you. As billed, I’m here to talk about the missed opportunity that this process that the Syrian Government calls elections represents. As you know, the Syrian Government and its ruling Baath Party periodically go through this motion of holding what they call elections, but the regime continues to use authoritarian rule as established by its emergency law, its all-powerful security forces, and its monopoly control over the legal process and framework to ensure that the election, the so-called election doesn’t in any way reflect a democratic process.
Both the Syrian constitution and the election process have heavily favored the Baath Party and the National Progressive Front, ensuring the continued domination of Syria by a single political force. The U.S. is deeply concerned about this process, given the absence — complete absence of the fundamental political reforms that Assad has repeatedly promised to his own people, including a much-needed new elections law.
The U.S. and the international community would like to see a democratizing Syrian Arab Republic, truly democratizing Syrian Arab Republic that respects human rights, is at peace with its neighbors, and is a responsible member of the international community. I think the Syrian people have the right to elect parliamentary representatives who are able and willing to represent them and to fight, effectively, corruption. We urge the Syrian Government to support the holding of free and fair elections, including allowing international monitors and nonpartisan domestic observers.
Democracy is about choice — about choice. The Syrian process does not allow any meaningful choice. Every candidate that is being put forward has to be 100 percent loyal to Bashar and the Baath Party. They have to be vetted by the Baath Party. And so it’s no wonder that turnout is expected to be extremely low because without choice, why participate?
We regret the Syrian regime’s refusal to have an open, transparent, and fully participatory political environment and process. That would include opposition voices and parties, an unfettered and independent media, and the strong participation by civil society. Syrian legislative representatives have so far failed to deliver on their responsibilities such as ensuring basic education, fighting unemployment and corruption, and even as you — as I’ve seen on Jazeera and Al-Arabiya and other news sources, this is not just the United States Government. I’ve heard of — you know, Syrians themselves kind of mocking the campaign processes, the campaign slogans, and the campaign platforms of many of these candidates who more likely come from the established elite than from people who are actually looking to address the needs of the Syrian people.
The election process itself — you know, elections are typically used to confer legitimacy. If you have a process that is open and transparent, easily observed, where there’s real political competition, then the results are deemed to give the winner legitimacy and clearly, that’s something that the Bashar Assad regime craves. This process cannot afford that sort of legitimacy because it is not open or transparent and it does not allow for true competition.
Even the ability to — right to vote; according to statistics, there are about 12 million people in Syria who would be — would have the right to vote in the country, but only 4-point-something million actually have the voter cards that will allow them to vote. This and many other instances, examples indicate just how far from a truly democratic process these elections are.