Local council elections begin in Syria as Assad government continues Idlib offensive

Local council elections begin in Syria as Assad government continues Idlib offensive

Today, local council positions across Syria are up for grabs as elections are held nationwide. The elections take place as

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad casts his vote next to his wife Asma inside a polling station during the parliamentary elections in Damascus

Photo: Reuters/SANA

Today, local council positions across Syria are up for grabs as elections are held nationwide.

The elections take place as violence in the northern Idlib province seizes international attention. Syrian and Russian forces began their Idlib offensive on September 8, seeking to defeat the final rebel stronghold. The UN, meanwhile, has warned that this campaign could cause some 800,000 more refugees to flee the war-torn country.

It appears clear that President Bashar al-Assad will win the war, albeit with upwards of 400,000 casualties and 11 million total displaced persons. With today’s local elections, the first to be held since the civil war’s opening chapters in 2011, President Assad seeks to consolidate authority and legitimise a restored Syrian governing structure.

The election process is unlikely to be fair, especially with war still ravaging whole provinces. Thus, expect Assad loyalists of the Ba’ath Party to dominate local elections, giving the president a façade of local support and bolstering his position in the rebuilding process. In a post-war Syria, President Assad seems bound to strengthen his authoritarian grip on the country, with local governments in his pocket, and the backing of Russia and Iran on the international stage.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.