Syrian media reported that an ecstatic Bashar Al Assad met with an uncharacteristically cheerful Iranian parliamentary delegation that had monitored the Syrian election. The Iranians insisted they did not care who won as long as the election went smoothly and everybody from Al Raqqah through, er, Beirut got to vote. They declared themselves satisfied with the election process. They claimed the elections were as free and fair as they had wished them to be, and the results (Assad won with 88%) were fantastic. “Could not be better”, said one bearded Iranian who insisted they were in Damascus as just impartial observers “to keep the honest, honest”.………
Egyptian media is quoted by my Cairo source claiming that General Al Sisi met with a gaggle of Gulf princes and potentates who had monitored the Egyptian election from the GCC democracy-monitoring headquarters in Riyadh. They declared the voting to have been free, fair, and very democratic, “almost as good as anything we have never seen back home”. One worthy grumbled that it was actually too democratic “if you ask me“, even if not tribal enough. When asked about the results (Sisi won with 97%), they said it was obviously fantastic and ordained by Allah and “why haggle over a lousy 3% discrepancy?”………
One smirking shaikh added his own version of a
Parthian parting shot: “unlike that Great Big Zero election held in Syria“…….
“Declaration on behalf of the European Union
on the presidential elections in Egypt
The holding of the presidential elections marks an important step in the imp
the constitutional roadmap towards the transition to democracy in Egypt. The Europe
Union expresses its willingness to work closely with the new authorities in Eg
ypt in a
constructive partnership with a view to strengthening our bilateral r
The EU congratulates Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, as the new President of Egypt
, and trusts that
he will tackle the serious challenges faced by the country and the new governm
them the dire economic situation, the deep divisions within society, the security sit
and the respect of the human rights of all Egyptian citizens in line with inter
obligations and guaranteed by the new Constitution adopted last January.
On the basis of the preliminary statement of the EU Election Observat
ion Mission the EU
takes good note of the overall peaceful and orderly conduct of the elections……………….”
Yadda, yadda, yadda in European bureaucratese.
The EU congratulated Generalissimo Field Marshal Al Sisi for winning his rigged Egyptian election with 97% of the vote. Effectively they congratulated him for overthrowing the elected president of Egypt, Morsi and taking over the state. They did not congratulate Bashar Al Assad for winning the other funny Arab election, the Syrian election. Perhaps because Bashar won only 88% of the vote and did not reach the required Arab majority of 90%.
They did, however congratulate the latest chubby oligarch to become president of Ukraine.
“Saudi Arabia had long seen Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood as a threat. After his ouster, it quickly pledged $5 billion (3.7 billion euros) in aid to Cairo, with Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates offering a combined $7 billion. King Abdullah also urged “brothers and friends to avoid meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs,” warning that harming Egypt would amount to “harming Islam, Arabism and Saudi Arabia.” The king appeared to be referring to Qatar, the only Gulf country to back Morsi, and whose relations with Saudi Arabia and most of its other neighbours in the region have been strained………….”
Saudi palace bureaucrats, with the help of the vastest and most expensive media oil money can buy, are trying to recreate the image of their king Abdullah. Even as the king is basking in the diversions of Morocco. (FYI: senior Saudi princes like to spend R&R in Morocco, it is a beautiful and relaxed country in which they often die).
The palace minions and the vast controlled media have been trying to show their king as some kind of Wahhabi Pope, but nobody outside the Persian Gulf states is buying it. Actually very few outside Saudi Arabia are buying it, with the exception of Bahrain’s ruling family and some tribal Wahhabi liberals in one other Gulf GCC state (Hint: it is not Oman or Qatar or the UAE). As for the wider Arab world, nobody is buying it except for the Salafis whom I correctly consider to be a fifth column for the princes.
This week, the Saudi king, or maybe rather his palace minions, surprised General Al Sisi after his election victory (he got 97% of those who bothered to vote) by sending him a public congratulatory message that is also a combination road map and twenty-five year plan for Egypt. Basically telling him to keep good thing going. It was a backhanded congratulatory message: basically the old king, or his minions, told Al Sisi and the Egyptians what to do. In other words, the oil potentate effectively punked Generalissimo Field Marshal President Al Sisi. Talk about interference in the internal affairs of another sovereign country.
The princes are also trying to pressure the
Qatari potentates into surrendering by abandoning their support for the
Muslim Brotherhood. Failing that, the King’s message also threatens to ‘excommunicate’ and expel Qatar from the GCC synods.
On the brighter side, the king called for a conference of all donor states to Egypt, presumably to drown the country with oil money, provided it continues to toe the Saudi line. As a down payment, 20 thousands heads of cattle arrived in Alexandria, with 80 thousand more to follow, gifts from the UAE rulers. The sheep and cows did not originate in the United Arab Emirates, but like almost everyone else in that country they were imported from elsewhere.
Egyptian media report that 20 thousand heads of cattle have arrived by ship at the port of Alexandria. They are the first payment of a 100 thousand head of cattle grant from the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Egypt.
The political heads of cattle arrived suspiciously just after Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi was declared the winner of the election by 97% of the vote. But the timing could be a coincidence, or maybe not. Yet, in the brotherly and sisterly world of official inter-Arab relations, a free lunch is an illusion. After all, the potentates and princes did not give a fig about the Egyptian people when Morsi was president.
On the other hands millions of heads of cattle voters voted for Al Sisi in the election, which gave him a modest 97% of the vote. That is modest by the standards of Yemen, where president general Hadi Al Zombie won by 99.8% a couple of years ago (and it is not true that only GCC rulers and Saudi princes voted in his election). In comparison, it is expected that Bashar Al Assad will win the Syrian election by a relatively modest margin, as he is unlikely to win more than 85% (my prediction).
The Saudi king woke up from his sleep long enough to announce that the election of Sisi heralds a new Arab awakening (he was in a rare mood to flaunt fancy words). Overall the Egyptian deal is not so bad for the potentates: 100 thousand heads of cattle in exchange for millions of heads of…………..
Syrian refugees voting in Lebanon
Lebanese politicians of the right-wing pro-Saudi March 14 Movement and their media are apparently shocked
and also pissed at the Syrian refugees in their country. They are probably also secretly awed but are afraid to say so. What they saw in Beirut, with tens of thousands of Syrian refugees lining up for hours outside their embassy to vote in the presidential election, shocked and embarrassed these pro-Jihadist Lebanese. All these refugees turning out to vote for Assad, the man under whose rule Syria has disintegrated, when the opposition urged them to boycott the election! While in Cairo the everlasting Mubarak bureaucrats allegedly had to scrap the bottom of the barrel to get voters for Generailsimo Sisi’s 90+ percent “victory”.
The process was speculated about by the BBC as a possible demonstration of popular support for Al Assad, and by his presumed ‘victims’. Quite a shot at the rebel and Saudi narrative that most Syrians oppose Al Assad (many do oppose him but it is arguable how many).
In fact I have often written here in the past that the Syrians are divided and it is hard to tell how they would line up. The way the war has been going, many of these refugees may be hoping for the regime to win just so that they can go home and put their shattered lives back together. Clearly, leaving the country means just getting out of the war zone and may not reflect political preferences. Some of the shocked
and pissed (and secretly awed) Lebanese of the March 14 bloc are suggesting a typical ‘Arab solution’: they are calling for all pro-Assad refugees to be expelled from Lebanon. Humanitarian help to be based only on one’s politics: can’t get more humanitarian that that.
Meanwhile media report that in Europe (and in some Arab countries) Syrians were not allowed to vote. Only Egyptians (and Ukrainians) were allowed to vote in their own funny elections.
“Tens of thousands of Assad supporters flocked to the hilltop embassy in a town south-east of the Lebanese capital to cast ballots, snarling traffic outside, keeping schoolchildren trapped in buses for hours and forcing some schools to cancel scheduled exams. Lebanon has more than a million Syrian refugees. “With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice for you, Bashar” and “long live Syria!” were some of the chants heard from many in the crowd. Despite the carnage in Syria, the country’s president has retained significant support among large sections of the population, particularly among Christians, Alawites and other religious minorities……………”
Comparing Middle East elections and regional and international reactions to them can be enlightening and educational:
- Remember when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won re-election as president of Iran in 2009? He won with only about 57% of the vote, allegedly with some “irregularities”. There was a huge media and political circus from Riyadh through London and Paris all the way to Washington and New York. Even absolute tribal ruling families from Riyadh through Doha to Manama and Abu Dhabi lamented the sorry state of democracy in Iran. It was about several weeks of “tsk tsk”. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opined publicly that Iran was now a “military dictatorship” (she was talking about Iran and not about Egypt or China). When Rouhani won his election in 2013 it was a different story.
- Back to Egypt and her perpetually funny non-elections under both Mubarak and Sisi (not under Morsi: he won a close election and fairly, maybe because the Mubarak bureaucracy was still running Egypt and tried to lose him the election). Now Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi apparently unofficially has his 98% victory (Al Ahram early estimates), in true Arab style (not as perfect as North Korean style, but close).
- On to Syria. The cheeky Bashar Al Assad is also running in his own election in Syria, but he has more opponents on the ballot than Al Sisi. The shocking thing may be that percentage voter turnout among Syrians is probably much higher than in Egypt: that is what it looks like now. Even Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, most of them Sunnis, are voting heavily, no doubt most of them for Al Assad whose days are supposedly numbered. The media pictures from refugee camps and from Beirut and Amman and other places show long lines of Syrian exiles voting for the man whose actions supposedly made them refugees. Which is puzzling, given that they are allegedly supposed to be eager for the Al Saud and Al Thani and Al Hollande and Al McCain and a bunch of Al Others to liberate their country for democracy.
- Meanwhile Al Sisi, the newest dictator on the bloc and his henchmen have tried to extend voting time and threaten people to vote in order to avoid embarrassing low turnout.
When it is all over we will have the expected predictable results, with Al Sisi matching or perhaps outdoing Mubarak in his “victory” margin in the upper nineties. Early results claim he won by nearly 98% but still less than Kim Jon Un’s victory margin and less than the Saudi King’s margin.
- The Western powers and others will sigh of relief and welcome the new “democratic” order in Egypt, except that it is an old order, actually older than the old order in Syria. And it is also no more democratic than the one in Syria.
- Then there is divided Iraq, which is beset with Wahhabi terrorist bombings almost every day, yet it manages to complete its elections. They are imperfect and tinged with both sectarian and tribal prejudices, but they don’t seem to need to coerce and threaten people to vote.