Syrian Ambassador Says World Fears Vote
Syria's ambassador to Lebanon said Monday the upcoming Syrian presidential election will be the resounding answer to all those who doubt that his government will prevail in its current conflict.
Sitting in his office at the hilltop Syrian Embassy just outside the Lebanese capital, Ali Abdul Karim Ali said he expects a huge turnout for the vote scheduled to be held abroad on Wednesday and in Syria on June 3.
He said the world criticizes and opposes the Syrian election because it fears the results.
"The Syrian people will say their word in these elections, and their word is the one that counts. Not Obama's word, Cameron's or Hollande's," Ali said, referring to the American, British and French leaders who have described Syria's insistence to hold the vote amid a raging civil war as a mockery.
President Bashar Assad is all but guaranteed a victory as opposition groups are boycotting the vote and balloting will only be held in government-controlled areas of the fragmented country, where rebels hold vast territory and where entire blocks have been destroyed and emptied of their original inhabitants because of the fighting.
More than 160,000 people have been killed and millions of others displaced from their homes since the uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011, then morphed into a civil war.
Lebanon is hosting more than a million refugees. Hundreds of thousands of others are scattered across Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and beyond.
Ali said Syrian refugees in Lebanon, as in other countries, will be able to vote at the embassy Wednesday. On Monday, the embassy was packed with Syrians registering to cast their ballot.
"Western countries are trying to portray the election as a mockery but even public opinion in Europe no longer buys it," Ali said.
The ambassador, Syria's strongman in Lebanon who hails from the same minority Alawite sect as the Syrian president, has good reason to be confident.
The Syrian military has successfully advanced against rebels around the capital Damascus and in the country's central region and has pushed ahead with a crushing offensive in Syria's largest city, Aleppo. Western support for the rebels fighting to topple Assad has diminished as Islamic militants have gained more power and influence among their ranks.
Ali spoke Monday as he watched television scenes of Egyptians voting in elections that retired field Marshall Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to win easily. "Our friend al-Sisi," quipped Ali about the man who last summer ousted Egypt's Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
Ali said the world will eventually thank Syria for blocking the advance in the region of "terrorists" and Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
"Syria will earn the respect of even those who were cursing it because it prevented the victory of this terrorist axis which has become a threat to the entire world and not just Syria," he said.