AS an exercise in self-delusion, it would be hard to surpass Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad's claim of 90 per cent support in a referendum to democratise his country. This is his answer, apart from the relentless butchery of his security forces, to the year-long protests that have now cost more than 8000 lives.
The constitutional changes are a cynical attempt to extend the life of Assad's evil regime with amendments that mean if he survives until his current term ends in 2014 he'll be eligible for two more seven-year terms. The much-trumpeted ending of six decades of one-party rule by the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party is no less fraudulent, with the new Constitution providing for a strong presidency and weak parliament in which parties opposed to the dictator would be emasculated. In a country tearing itself apart, the 90 per cent voter support he claims is also nonsense _ even if not quite the 98 per cent he ludicrously claimed for himself in the 2007 presidential election. More than half the 13,000 polling stations were in government strongholds in Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia. That the referendum was a sham is as incontrovertible as the sad reality it will do nothing to end the violence or achieve the political transition urgently needed. Assad's bogus claims must be answered by a more concerted international drive to provide assistance for those seeking to end his dictatorship, or make him see sense.
Despite Russia and China's shameful support, Assad is now more isolated than ever. Even Hamas has turned on him, while delegates from 60 countries meeting in Tunis have backed the opposition and the EU has imposed stringent new sanctions, including a freeze on Syrian central bank assets. Understandably, despite the horrors, there is little appetite for military intervention like that in Libya. But measures can be taken. There is, for example, a strong case to be made for global support of a Turkish proposal to create humanitarian corridors from embattled Syrian communities to neighbouring countries, and to provide military training for opposition fighters. There's a telling malevolence in Assad's claim of electoral success when men, women and children are being mown down in droves. The tyrant must be left in no doubt the world sees the referendum for the fraudulent act of desperation that it is, and that the pressure on him will be ever more unrelenting until he halts the killing.
In: World News, Regional News, Politics, Other Middle East
Tags: Syria, Assad, referendum
Location: Damascus, Damascus Governorate, Syria (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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