00:00 GMT20 June 2021
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    The US and four of its allies issued a statement on Tuesday rejecting the legitimacy May 26 presidential elections in Syria, which Syrians living in US-occupied parts of the country's east have been barred from participating in by US-aligned forces.

    The Tuesday statement, issued by the foreign ministries of the US, UK, France, Germany, and Italy, states their position that "Syria’s May 26 presidential election will neither be free nor fair."

    "We denounce the Assad regime’s decision to hold an election outside of the framework described in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and we support the voices of all Syrians, including civil society organizations and the Syrian opposition, who have condemned the electoral process as illegitimate," the five powers said.

    "As outlined in the Resolution, free and fair elections should be convened under UN supervision to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability. For an election to be credible, all Syrians should be allowed to participate, including internally displaced Syrians, refugees, and members of the diaspora, in a safe and neutral environment," the statement continues.

    "Without these elements, this fraudulent election does not represent any progress towards a political settlement. We urge the international community to unequivocally reject this attempt by the Assad regime to regain legitimacy without ending its grave human rights violations and meaningfully participating in the UN-facilitated political process to end the conflict."

    The statement cites UN Security Council Resolution 2254, a 2015 document in which the body "expresses its support for free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the United Nations, to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate."

    However, the document also calls on member states to "prevent and suppress terrorist acts" by Daesh, al-Nusra, and other al-Qaeda-aligned groups, and urges all parties to maintain a commitment to supporting "Syria's unity, independence, territorial integrity," two things the five nations issuing the statement have adamantly refused to do.

    Idlib, Kurdish Areas Refuse Part in Second Vote of Civil War

    Wednesday's election will be the country's second since the destructive civil war broke out in 2011, rending much of the country from the central government's control in Damascus, with parts of the country's north and east occupied by Turkish, American, and the Islamist rebel forces they support. Incumbent President Bashar al-Assad, who has ruled since 2000, was reelected in the 2014 elections by 88.7% of the vote.

    Assad is heavily favored by observers over the two other candidates: former state minister of parliamentary affairs Abdullah Salloum Abdullah, and Mahmoud Ahmad Marei, who heads the National Democratic Front.

    Syrians who have not lived in Syria for more than 10 consecutive years will not be eligible to vote, while the vast majority of the 6.6 million refugees who fled the civil war will not be excluded from participation. In neighboring Lebanon, where more than a million Syrian refugees have waited out the war, they have been casting early ballots for nearly a week, with local reporters noting widespread and enthusiastic participation.

    However, in many Persian Gulf and Western nations, Syrians eligible to vote likely won't be able to do so, due to those nations' governments having shuttered their Syrian embassies years ago to express their rejection of the Syrian government of Assad.

    In Idlib Governorate, which is mostly occupied by Turkish forces and Turkish-backed Islamist rebels, authorities have refused to allow participation in the election. Demonstrators in the occupied cities of Al-Bab, Idlib, and Azaz rallied against the election last week, with one demonstrator telling Turkish state media Anadolu Agency "the Syrian revolution will continue until the Assad regime is toppled."

    In eastern Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Council has similarly refused to participate in the vote, saying that areas under control of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces would not take part. Riad Dirar, the council's co-chair, told Erbil-based Bas News last month that the body “does not have a position on the Syrian presidential elections," but that disagreements over "the constitutional issue" had marred their legitimacy.

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    Tags:
    democracy, UN resolution, US, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Idlib, elections, Syria
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