World powers should not be fooled by Syria’s Assad, U.S. says

The planned Syrian presidential election this summer should not pull the wool over the eyes of the international community as it will fail to be free or fair, Washington’s envoy to the United Nations said on Monday.

Prominent figures have yet to announce their candidacies in the war-torn country’s elections, set to take place in mid-2021, a decade after the anti-government protests that sparked the country’s devastating civil war, killing 388,000 people and displacing millions inside the country and abroad.

“These elections will neither be free nor fair. They will not legitimize the Assad regime,” German broadcaster Deutsche Welle cited Linda Thomas-Greenfield as telling the U.N. Security Council on Monday in a meeting the United States called, marking the 10th anniversary of the conflict.

Moreover, the elections would not meet the criteria laid out in the U.N. Resolution No. 2254 on Syria, which stipulates elections must be supervised by the U.N. or conducted under a new constitution, the envoy said.

Following the 2011 popular uprising in the southern city of Dara’a, marking the beginning of Syria’s civil war, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan embraced the Muslim Brotherhood and supported Islamist rebels fighting the regime of Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The United States supports Kurdish forces in the region.

Thomas-Greenfield on Monday said a new format was needed to bring together key nations with an influence on the Syrian conflict, namely the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Arab states and the EU.

The Syrian conflict has lasted “roughly the length of World War I and World War II combined,” DW cited the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, as saying.

Arab states, the EU, and the remaining three of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members - China, Britain and France- should also be included in any talks on Syria, Pedersen said, which should be “based on the understanding that none of them can dictate the outcome on the Syrian conflict.”