Assad Engineers His Re-election

Map of Syria

Syrians dutifully went to the polls this week to vote for a president in what was anything but an exercise in free and fair democracy. The winner was predetermined and voting took place only in government-controlled areas, meaning that thousands of Syrians in rebel-held areas were unable to cast ballots. The result — no surprise here — was a third seven-year term for President Bashar al-Assad.

No one can pretend this election is consistent with a credible democratic process. Mr. Assad’s two competitors on the ballot were little known and widely understood to be pawns in his farcical game. As for the international election observers selected by Syria to validate the process, the fact that they came from North Korea, Iran and Russia, three of the world’s most undemocratic countries, speaks for itself.

The most significant, and depressing, thing about the election was its ratification of a cruel truth: Mr. Assad, whom world leaders long ago said should be gone, remains in power and is unlikely to leave anytime soon. The three-year-old civil war continues to rage, with its mounting toll of more than 160,000 people killed and millions displaced in Syria and neighboring countries. Undeterred by any sense of moral compass, Mr. Assad is flattening cities, blocking food aid from rebel-held areas and, according to Physicians for Human Rights, systematically attacking doctors and health care facilities, an especially heinous action that violates the norms of war and can constitute a crime against humanity under international law.

The full article continues at on The New York Times’ website.