For the past several months, the 11 remaining member states of the London Group (formerly known as the "Friends of Syria" at the time when there were 114) denounced the Syrian presidential election on June 3 as a "farce”. According to them, on the one hand it would be ludicrous to hold an election in a country plagued by a "civil war", on the other hand, the outgoing President Bashar al-Assad is a tyrant, using massive torture and bombing his own people, and therefore illegitimate. According to these 11 states, the only way out of a war that has already left "at least 160,000 dead Syrians" would be by giving way to a "transitional body" designated not by the Syrians, but by themselves, the London Group.

The major media from members of NATO and the GCC States were therefore intending to ignore this "non-election", in the words of Secretary of State John Kerry. However, early voting for Syrians living abroad having led to mass demonstrations in Lebanon and Jordan, it was obvious that almost all Syrians living inside Syria who could vote would. Henceforth, these mainstream media dispatched teams in extremis to cover the event.

Until that time, it was generally accepted, except by the Voltaire Network, that Syrians in exile opposed the Republic, and had fled the country to escape "political repression." The episodes at polls in Beirut and Amman showed that in reality, the vast majority of them had fled the exactions of foreign mercenaries who attack their country. Just as surprised as the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon, the Lebanese Interior Minister denounced the presence on his territory of alleged Syrian refugees who support their government, refusing to take into account the attack on their country and the destruction of their homes by more than 250,000 mercenaries in 3 years.

The Syrian Republic strove to meticulously follow Western standards of democracy. Parliament adopted a new electoral code which established the rights granted to candidates both for public advertising and television appearances and newspapers, as well as providing an escort ensuring their safety in this time of war.

The country, which abandoned the one-party system in favour of a multiparty system, having adopted the constitution of February 26, 2012, had two years to develop numerous parties and learn public policy debate.

The Syrian Republic, which has accepted the presence of Western journalists since November 2011, had two and a half years to learn how to meet their professional requirements. It gradually established good contacts with many of them, especially since the Geneva 2 Conference. More than 360 international media were accredited as well, with complete freedom of movement throughout the country, despite the war.

Political arguments

For the London Group, it would be impossible to hold an election in a state at war. They forget that recently, these same States welcomed the presidential elections in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

In Afghanistan, on April 5, the first round of the presidential election unfolded under the supervision of NATO troops. One voter in three fled the country, but could vote from abroad. According to the member states of the London group, it would have required 50% of votes cast to be elected in the first round (there would be a second round on June 14). In this case, given the abstention rate of 67% the president was elected by 16.5% of the electorate).

In Ukraine, the Kiev coup announced a turnout of 60% on May 25. In doing so, they did not count the voters of Crimea, although they say that this area is still part of their country. President-elect Poroshenko reaped 54% of votes cast. However, if the score included all voters across the territory it claims, it has the support of 27% of them.

One should not be surprised by the low standards of the London Group: in the last European Parliament elections (May 25), the participation rate was exceptionally low (only 13% in the Czech Republic). This election without the people was nevertheless considered "democratic" (sic).

The Bellicose Role of the Atlanticist Media 2011-2012

The war against Syria began in 2011 as a 4th generation war. That is to say that NATO intended to overthrow the government by discouraging people from defending themselves rather than through a conventional war. Major international media (Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, France24, Sky), coordinated by the Alliance were to delude the Syrians and the world into believing that their country was in the grips of a "revolution" and their government would inevitably be overthrown. The war would have peaked in early 2012 by the false substitution of Syrian channels to announce the flight of President al-Assad and the establishment of a "transitional government." However the operation was foiled and failed. In June of 2012, Russia and the United States concluded outlines of an agreement which provided both peace in Syria and sharing the region between them.

However, France, Israel and the democratic opposition in the Obama administration (Hillary Clinton, David Petraeus, James Stavridis) relaunched the war in another form. This time the method was to attack the country with non-state forces, on the model of the condottieri of the Renaissance and, more recently, the Contras in Nicaragua. During this second period, the Atlanticist and Gulf media continued their momentum to describe an imaginary revolution against a cruel dictatorship, while public opinion in Syria wound up rallying with the government. So that when the Syrian presidential campaign began, the media gave a completely different narration of the situation depending on whether they were based in NATO countries or GCC or not.

How then would the Atlantic Media deal with this election?

The Atlanticist Media Strategy of Assad Bashing in 2014

During days preceding the election, they used several arguments to discredit the electoral process.

• "The result is known in advance," they pounded. Indeed, there was no doubt that the outgoing president, Bashar al-Assad, would be elected for a third term of 7 years. This statement left the public to assume that the election would not be fair.

However, if Europeans are willing to compare what is comparable, the situation in Syria is reminiscent of Europe at the end of the Second World War. On August 26, 1944, the President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF), which was established in Algiers a few days before the invasion of Normandy, General Charles De Gaulle, went up the Champs-Elysees escorted by an innumerable crowd. There was no election then. De Gaulle’s legitimacy was indisputable because he was the first politician to refuse Collaboration in 1940 and immediately enter the Resistance. The French greeted him as a man who knew how to oppose fatalism and lead them to victory. Similarly, the Syrians see Assad in the man who was able to oppose the colonization of the country and lead them to victory.

• "The other two candidates are mere stooges" continue Atlanticist media, implying that the country was still at the single party level and that this election was staged.

However, the characteristic of a multi-party system is to be able to vote for a candidate of one’s choice. In many elections, voters do not identify with any candidate. They can then either refrain if they consider that the system is flawed; or vote blanc if they want to support the institutions, but no candidate; or vote for a fringe candidate to relativize the score of the principal candidate (the so-called "protest vote").

Therefore, even before considering the score of the candidates, what is most important is the level of participation. In the Syria war, where part of the territory is currently occupied by at least 90,000 foreign mercenaries, despite the call of the Syrian National Coalition for boycott, 73.42% of the electorate voted. By comparison, this is better than in France for all elections to the European Parliament (since 1979), better than all the elections (since 1986), but less so than the presidential election (80.34%). The difference of course, is that France is at peace.

• "The country is largely destroyed and the bombardment continues," assures the Atlanticist media. The election would therefore be an epiphenomenon, the daily reality is the pervasiveness of war. To add, AFP affirms that the government only controlled 40% of the country sheltering 60% of the population.

Participation having been greater than 60%, it should first be noted that the AFP figures are imaginary. Control by the Syrian Arab Army is much broader since it regained the coast. Mercenaries are still present at the Turkish border and in some pockets here and there. Thus, the district of Damascus is 18 000 km2, of which only 75 km2 are held by the Contras, but the AFP considers that the entire district is in the hands of the "revolutionaries". In addition, in some areas, the Syrian Arab Army is absent, but state officials are ever-present. This is the case of the Kurdish areas who themselves ensure their own safety while recognizing the Republic. Finally, most of the territory is uninhabitable desert that everyone is entitled to control. However, where the Contras try to traverse, they are shot down by the Syrian Air Force.

Also, showing pictures of Homs devastation does not mean that the government is "bombing its own people." Again, if we take the example of World War II, these images are comparable to Stalingrad as the methods of the Contras are the same as those of the Nazis: that of "mouse holes". In order not be eliminated in the streets, foreign snipers dig passages from one house to another in the side walls.

Finally, to bombard enemy positions, the Syrian Arab Army may be required to bomb civilians in the way the Allies bombed Lisieux, Vire, Le Havre, Tilly, Villers-Bocage, Saint-Lô, Caen etc. during the Normandy landings. However, when the methods of the Allies are discussed, noone thinks of accusing them of having deliberately killed 20,000 French civilians.

The Consequences of the Vote

To everyone’s surprise, the turnout was massive wherever it was possible to vote, including in the Kurdish areas, while the Atlanticist media relayed Kurdish calls for a boycott.

We must therefore conclude:

• The charges of dictatorship and torture are imaginary.

In no state in the world, have we seen the people vote for a dictator who oppressed them. The German Nazi party never got more than 43.9% of the vote (March 1933) and immediately ended multiparty elections.

The Syrians residing inside their country certainly know better what is happening at home than the Syrians of the National Coalition, most of whom have lived abroad for at least twenty years. They no longer believe the US narrative of the early events (children that police allegedly tortured in Daraa) and they never believed the current narrative (the 10,000 people tortured and starved to death in "regime" prisons).

• The Syrian National Coalition does not represent the Syrian people.

The Coalition, a body created by the French services and now controlled by Saudi Arabia after having being controlled by Qatar, was recognized as the "sole representative of the Syrian people" by the London Group. Despite the boycott, abstention is only 26.58% of registered voters, which seems to correspond primarily to those prevented from participating because of the occupation of part of the territory by the Contras.

It is also still unclear how an entity flying the green-white-black three-star flag —that is to say, the flag of French colonization of the inter-war period— could be supported by the Syrian people.

• The Collaborators of the colonial powers are discredited.

During televised debates, members of the Coalition explained the absence of a leader capable of competing with Bashar al-Assad by a long period of dictatorship stifling the country. Now, as we have seen, there is no dictatorship in Syria today.

If we make the comparison with the Second World War, the absence of a rival to Charles De Gaulle in 1944 did not mean that he had imposed a dictatorship, but that French politicians were discredited by working with Nazis. That is why none of the people who participated in the National Coalition can hope to play a political role in the future in the country.

Roger Lagassé