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2014年6月10日 (火)

シリア大統領選 圧勝でも強権は免罪されない

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Assad’s landslide reelection will never exonerate guilt of iron-fist atrocities
シリア大統領選 圧勝でも強権は免罪されない

After apparently being driven into a desperate situation for a while by opponents of his regime, a dictator whose oppression of his own people led to a civil war seems to be regaining control of his nation.

In Syria, where a civil war has lasted for nearly three years, a presidential election was held on Tuesday, resulting in President Bashar Assad—who had been strongly pressured by the United States and European countries to step down—winning a third term in office by securing 88.7 percent of the votes cast.

With the fall of the city of Homs last month in the war-ravaged country’s central region, which had been a key stronghold of the insurgents, the civil war has been evolving conspicuously to the advantage of the Assad regime. The number of fatalities has surpassed 160,000. The war so far has prompted about 2.77 million people to flee Syria’s borders and internally displaced more than 6.5 million.

Many of those people were unable to cast ballots in the election, and the rebel groups could not vote.

The United States denounced the presidential election as making a “farce” of democracy, while a declaration of the latest summit of the Group of Seven industrially advanced countries in Brussels called the poll a “fake election.” Assad’s reelection to a third seven-year term through a government-set election in the middle of a protracted uprising against his rule will never be considered legitimate.

Behind the failure of the scenario envisaged by the United States and Europe—the ousting of Assad and the democratization of Syria—lies fundamental changes in the shape of the civil war.

Opposing forces split

Rebel groups against the Assad regime were initially made up of forces seeking the country’s democratization. Because the mainstay of antigovernment moderates supported by the United States and Europe was based outside Syria, however, domestic support for them was weak. In addition, they were plagued by internal strife to the point that they eventually split, resulting in a loss of public trust.

Taking advantage of the adverse situation, a massive influx began from abroad of extremist Islamic armed forces, including terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaida, who have become a major force in the fight against the Assad regime. The democratic cause has thus been cast aside.

In the eyes of the United States and Europe, Islamic extremists are enemies in the fight against terrorism, and their existence is considered even more dangerous than that of the Assad regime.

Should the Assad regime be toppled, the Islamic extremists would emerge victorious, a situation that would not only threaten the security of Israel but also would inevitably destabilize the entire Middle East.

Having failed to find a reasonable alternative to the Assad regime, the United States and Europe have no choice but to effectively give the Assad regime a tacit nod in hopes that it will gain the upper hand over the rebels. Expediency on the part of the United States and Europe can hardly be denied.

Peace talks with the U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Representative on the Syrian crisis as the go-between have ended without result.

Though the destruction of more than 90 percent of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons on the basis of a U.S.-Russia agreement was a positive outcome, the destruction of those weapons was made under the assumption that the Assad regime would remain in power.

The destruction of chemical weapons, of course, can never be a reason to exonerate the Assad regime for what it has done. The international community must continue to keep a vigilant eye on future moves by the iron-fisted dictator, who must be held responsible for the massive casualties in the civil war.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 8, 2014)


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