Syria's Assad Family Plans to Stretch 44 Year-Power Reign in Today's Election

Syria-Election.jpgIf it was turned in as a Hollywood script, the producer might delegate it to the B folder.  But the Syrian presidential election set for Tuesday June 3 is no B scenario. It is an "A" script with big bucks involved - most of it being delivered by U.S. taxpayers.
According to official numbers from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. has provided at least $1 billion on humanitarian aid to Syria for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
For fiscal 2014, the Congress has approved an additional $195 million, on top of the total $1.01 billion delivered since the Syrian crisis began three years ago.
The ruling Assad family makes no mention of that aid to its citizens, of course.
According to the most recent United Nations count, at least 160,000 persons in Syria have been killed and millions of others displaced from their homes since the rebel uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011.
More than a million refugees have found safe haven in Lebanon, a tiny country of 4.5 million residents.  Hundreds of thousands of others are scattered across Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and elsewhere in Asia, according to UN data.
The Assad family, currently headed by eye surgeon Bashar Assad, plans to handily win the June 3 election and stretch its reign over the war-torn country of 4.5 million persons for another seven years.
The election, of course, is a farce.  No one seriously dares run against Assad who will turn 50 in September. The few who do are lightly regarded as opponents by the Assads.
Bashar's dictator father, Hafiz Assad, ran the country from 1970 to his death in 2000. Bashar then took over. To date, that is a total 44 years in power for the Assad family, making it the longest-ruling government in the Arab world.
The second-longest reign belonged to the late 69-year-old Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. He ruled oil-rich Libya for 42 years until he was shot to death by a mob on Oct. 20, 2011.
No one is speculating how many "registered" voters in Syria will turn out to vote since the balloting is only going to be done in areas of the country still controlled by the Syrian army.  Assad's spokesmen maintain he will win at least 97 percent of the vote, the same margin he supposedly garnered in the 2007 election.
Assad blames his country's turmoil on Western-backed "terrorists' and Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
During the 2011-2012 Syrian uprising, a new constitution was put to a referendum. But guess what?  Nothing changed.
The previous Syrian constitution of 1973 vested the Ba'ath Party (formally the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party) with leadership functions in the state and society and provided broad powers to the president.
The president, approved by referendum for a seven-year term, was also Secretary General of the Ba'ath Party and leader of the National Progressive Front. In other words, the president was the boss of all bosses.  Talk about Mafia-like organizations.
Besides the Assad family, the one person confident of a landslide victory June 3 is Ali Abdel-Karim Ali, Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, a tiny country now controlled by the Hezbollah party, loyal Assad supporters.  In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Ali said the election results will show the world how democratic Syria really is.
One little item, Ali.  Did you forget the United Nations and the United States continue to investigate allegations that Syrian helicopters dropped deadly chlorine gas last month on rebel forces in the Kfar Zeita region?
Democratic Syria, indeed.

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