News / Middle East

US Rejects Syria Vote as 'Sham'

US Rejects Syria Vote as 'Sham'i
X
Scott Stearns
June 04, 2014 11:57 PM
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won re-election in a vote held in government-controlled parts of his war-torn country. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the polls mean for Assad's allies and his opponents.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won re-election in a vote held in government-controlled parts of his war-torn country.

U.S. officials dismiss his re-election as a farce. But for Assad, the vote signals a sharper confrontation to come, according to U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

"We have a Syrian regime that is going to dig in, is going to insist on its legitimacy. That view will be supported by Russia, Iran, China, other governments which have backed the Assad regime," said Heydemann. "And it means that any opportunity to try to close the gap and move the conflict toward a negotiated settlement has been significantly set back."

Iranian support for Assad in this vote included election observers.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who heads Iran's Parliamentary Committee for National Security, said, "Syrian people participated completely freely in these elections, and foreign and regional campaigns aiming at misleading the facts did not succeed in preventing Syrian people from practicing their right to choose their leadership."

Former U.S. ambassador Adam Ereli said the vote helps Iran to broaden its regional standing.

"That's why Iran is active in Syria. It is a defensive move, in other words, keep your ally in power so their opponents don't. But it also maximizes Iranian influence."

A stronger Assad is partly the result of what former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford calls a failed U.S. policy.

"We need, and we have long needed, to help moderates in the Syrian opposition with both weapons and other non-lethal assistance," said Ford. "Had we done that a couple of years ago, had we ramped it up, frankly the al-Qaida groups that have been winning adherents would have been unable to compete with the moderates."

State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the Obama administration is boosting support for the opposition.

"I think actually a lot of the frustration you’ve heard people like Ambassador Ford talk about is that the situation is incredibly complicated and there are no easy answers, and that we are constantly looking at ways to increase our support," she said. "We are constantly looking at ways to get the parties back to the table."

But Heydemann said getting Assad, with his new electoral mandate, back to the negotiating table is far harder without a credible military threat.

"If the regime feels that it has won militarily, if it feels that its survival is now ensured, if, because of Iranian support and Russian support and the participation of Hezbollah, it no longer views the opposition as a threat, then its incentives to negotiate disappear," he said.

Heydemann said the Obama administration has the opportunity to boost military support for the armed opposition, but so far has been unwilling to do so in a way that would change Assad's calculus.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs