Despite the escalation of fighting between rebels and Syrian forces, Bashar al-Assad has announced that he is registering to run for a third term as leader of the civil war-torn country. The 6 million displaced along with 2.5 million refugees who have fled the crumbling state are only overshadowed by the nearly 150,000 who have lost their lives in the conflict. Bashar al-Assad, the figure who is most associated with the cause of the Syrian uprising has not been deterred by continued international condemnation and internal upheaval, addressing Syria’s parliament in a letter asserting his bid for re-election.
Western observers and critics of the Assad regime have decried the election a sham, a “parody of democracy,” and that no such credible election can even be held in a country with such internal displacement and sectarian violence. Oddly enough, the June 2014 election in Syria will be the first competitive multi-candidate election for Presidency in Syria’s history.
Bashar al-Assad’s official Facebook page made a request for Syrians to “express their joy and support” for any one of the 6 candidates running against him, saying it should be done in a “responsible, patriotic way… through the ballot box.” Bashar al-Assad was bestowed the presidency following the death of his father Hafez in 2000.
While Bashar al-Assad has committed “linguistic gymnastics” as one outraged blogger called it, accusations that his regime has only ramped up the violence.
The latest clashes with Syrian government forces killed 14 opposition fighters, while a government airstrike Wednesday leveled a school in Aleppo, killing 17 children and 3 civilians. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the suburb of Zabadani has been the epicenter of armed shoot outs between the opposition and Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Bashar al-Assad has made claims that the civil war in Syria has “turned” in his favor following gains made against the rebels according to state media. Supporters of Bashar al-Assad say that his gains on the battlefield prove his strength as a leader and will lend him support in the coming election.
The gains made by Syrian forces involve the recapture of important supply routes from Damascus towards Homs and the Mediterranean. Syrian officials have labeled the war a “war on terror” against foreign jihadists who seek to sow unrest in the region.
The infighting between the foreign jihadists has only made matters worse, with hundreds dieing each day in one of the bloodiest civil conflict in recent memory.
The Syrian government has also been accused of using the remainder of their 27 tons of sarin precursor chemical as leverage against the international community.
A U.S. official claims that Bashar al-Assad is stalling the OPCW and international community from demolishing buildings and tunnels used to transport the chemical weapons, a provision previously agreed upon by the Syrian regime and the OPCW.
The chaos in Syria doesn’t seem to be abating, and with Bashar al-Assad’s bid for re-election, the controversy over his tenure as president will only continue. International observers say there is no sign of a ceasefire anytime soon.