Bashar Assad

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Syria: As Presidential Election Begins, Survivors of Chemical Attack Shun Vote In Disgust | International Business Times

The sounds Qusai Zakarya heard the morning of Aug. 21, 2013, in Moadimiyeh, Syria, near Damascus, were not what he was used to. The bombs, he said, sounded different — they didn’t buzz and crash in the same way they had in the slew of previous regime bombardments, and the people running for cover were holding their eyes, falling and vomiting. Those were signs that the international community and human rights organizations said were indicative of a chemical attack. Now, nearly a year later, the man behind the attack, President Bashar Assad, is standing for re-election in what’s widely seen as a sham. And Zakarya is in the U.S., working to prove to Western leaders that what he saw that day was real, and that Assad needs to be removed from power. Wednesday marked the first day Syrians living outside of the country could cast their ballot in the presidential election that no one expects Assad to lose. Tens of thousands voted, many of them at the Syrian Embassy in Beirut. According to Reuters, refugees said that pro-Assad Lebanese groups had mobilized them to go vote. Syrian state television said voting took place in 43 embassies.

Full Article: As Syria Presidential Election Begins, Survivors of Chemical Attack Shun Vote In Disgust.

Syria: Assad to seek re-election in June vote | The Washington Post

Syrian President Bashar Assad declared his candidacy Monday for a new seven-year term in June presidential elections, more than three years into a revolt against his rule that has killed more than 150,000 people, uprooted another 9 million and touched off a humanitarian crisis. At least half of the 9.5 million people displaced by the Syrian civil war are children. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, says protecting them should be a priority for the international community. While Assad had long suggested he would seek re-election, the official announcement put to rest any illusions that the man who has led Syria since 2000 has any intention of relinquishing power or finding a political solution to the conflict. Rather, he appears emboldened by a series of military victories in recent months that have strengthened his once tenuous grip on power.

Full Article: Syria’s Assad to seek re-election in June vote - The Washington Post.

Iran: Intrigue swirls as Iran prepares to choose next president | Los Angeles Times

The reform movement that took to the streets to protest alleged vote-rigging in Iran’s last presidential election has been crushed. The supreme leader has made it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated this time. But that doesn’t mean the maneuvering to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an election set for June 14 has been without intrigue. Ahmadinejad, who was reelected in the disputed 2009 balloting, is barred by law from seeking a third term and is publicly promoting a trusted aide to replace him. It is far from clear, however, whether the president’s preferred successor will even be allowed to run. For much of the outside world, the incumbent remains the defiant face of the Iranian theocracy. At home, however, the clerical establishment that backed him four years ago has tired of what hard-liners regard as his divisiveness and lack of deference to the religious leadership. The election comes at a difficult moment for the Islamic Republic, which is facing the prospect of increased international isolation.

Full Article: Intrigue swirls as Iran prepares to choose next president - latimes.com.

Editorials: Syria holds 'farce' elections as rebels target Bashar Assad's tanks | msnbc

Polls opened in what Syria’s government said were its first multiparty elections in about 50 years on Monday, after renewed fighting between rebels and President Bashar Assad’s forces reportedly broke out in an oil-producing part of the country. The opposition have said the election will change little in a rubber-stamp assembly that has been chosen by the Assad family, backed by the powerful secret police, for the past four decades. The assembly currently does not have a single opposition member and official media said half the seats would be reserved to “representatives of workers and peasants,” whose unions are controlled by Assad’s Baath Party. Stories of atrocities carried out by Syrian government forces shortly before the ceasefire began are emerging. ITV’s John Irvine reports from Taftanaz, Northern Syria, where 60 people were massacred in one day.

Full Article: World News - Syria holds 'farce' elections as rebels target Bashar Assad's tanks.