Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is going to be “re-elected” in the upcoming presidential polls scheduled for Tuesday.
Obviously, Assad will win his third seven-year term at the end of the day – if anyone other than his friends even show up to slip the ballots into the box. It would be lethal to do so.
A few “opponents” will stand as candidates to give the appearance that the elections are actually a process rather than the farce the process really is.
One of those willing to cooperate is Hassan al-Nouri, a U.S.-educated businessman who once served as minister of administrative development. Age 54, he is the first of two people ever to run against the Syrian leader – even in a rigged election. His fellow ‘opponent,’ Maher Hajjar, is a legislator from Aleppo.
The fee for Nouri’s cooperation was massive publicity. His face has been plastered all over the country on billboards from one end of Syria to the other. A savvy businessman, Nouri understands that the price of doing business is keeping your name in the news. He is a wealthy man, but more money is always welcome, and Nouri until now has been known mostly to the Damascus-area market.
Neither are really opponents, of course. Nouri even admitted as much to The Washington Post. “I’m not opposition, a hundred percent. But I’m not part of the regime,” he said. “I’m leading the third party.” Western leaders and analysts have dismissed this and the entire election as a charade.
But more to the point, Nouri expressed a view repeatedly stated by the Assad government, more succinctly and in terms a democratic audience can more easily understand: “Millions of Syrians are the silent majority. They don’t give a damn who is the president. They want food on the table, they want peace, they want security.”
The question is, what happens the day after tomorrow?
About the Author: Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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