What Next For Syria's Assad As New Mandate Begins?
Muhammad Irfan 25 days ago Fri 28th May 2021 | 06:42 PM
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has won a fourth term in office with 95 percent of the vote in a ballot dismissed abroad as a "farce".
Beirut, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 28th May, 2021 ) :Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has won a fourth term in office with 95 percent of the vote in a ballot dismissed abroad as a "farce".
With the conflict mostly on hold but his country's economy in ruins, what are Assad's priorities likely to be when he kicks off his first post-war mandate? - What's in a number? - 95.1 percent.
The number of votes -- 13.5 million -- he received far exceeded what some observers had said would be a realistic total turnout, and thousands of people had gathered in public squares on Thursday, hours before the results were announced.
"95.1 percent of Syrians have spoken: Bashar al-Assad is president of the republic," was the headline on the front page of the pro-government Al-Watan daily Friday.
With less than five percent of the vote left for his two hand-picked "rivals", the election result Assad's regime announced appears to shut down any suggestion he might have used the election as an opening for more inclusive politics.
"The international diplomatic effort to reform Syria is dead, and this election with its authoritarian 95.1% of the vote for Assad is the last nail in its coffin," said Nicholas Heras, an analyst with the Newlines Institute in Washington.
Much of the international community dismissed the ballot before it even started, with the notable exception of Russia, which welcomed Assad's "decisive" victory.
For Heras, Moscow and Damascus' other key ally Tehran sent "a big signal to the United States and its partners that there is no Syrian future without Assad." - What priorities for Assad? - Immediately after results were announced late Thursday, Assad said "the work phase" for the reconstruction of Syria would begin.
His regime only controls about two thirds of the national territory and some areas are in ruins, mostly as a result of his own forces' bombardments.
Some monarchies have already reopened diplomatic representations in Damascus and Assad hopes to further upgrade relations to launch his new seven-year mandate.
Senior Assad adviser Buthaina Shaaban told a local radio station that "efforts were under way to improve ties between Damascus and Riyadh." Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad has also spoken of a thaw in relations with the region.
The rapprochement would come a decade after the start a war in which Assad once claimed he was facing rebels armed and funded by Gulf powers.
- What alternatives? - Assad's "me or chaos" mantra from those early stages of the conflict has further simplified to "me or nothing" now that fighting has largely wound up.
"But to be honest at this stage I see very few reasons for optimism," Bitar said.