The suspense is over! For those who have been biting their fingernails, the winners are. . . General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt, Hafiz al-Assad in Syria and Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine.
Egypt first: After years of revolution and repression, the violent overthrow of an elected government and the slaughter of its supporters, along with a carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign by the still-dominant “Deep State” of generals and kleptocrats, the return – or rather continuance – of military rule was a foregone conclusion. Backing General el-Sisi was an odd couple of Saudi Arabia and Israel, with the US standing meekly aside and continuing to underwrite the hardware used by the military to repress its own people. Most Egyptians didn’t even bother to vote. El-Sisi claimed a 96.91% victory.
In Syria: Despite the horrifically brutal civil war millions of Syrians went to the polls to ratify President Hafiz al-Assad for another seven years. The motives for voting varied from fear to enthusiasm, nationalism and opposition to foreign interference to sheer exhaustion with the war. However, it was impossible to ignore that many Syrians – how many, we have no way of knowing – demonstrated their heartfelt support for the regime (a fact which “Western” journalists were at pains to belittle). Many others preferred the al-Assad police state to the prospect of rule by religious fanatics who considered their opponents “infidels” eligible to be murdered at will. Hafiz al-Assad claimed that almost 16 million people voted and gave him an 88.7% victory – “down” from 97.62 in 2007, but who’s counting.
In Ukraine, it was a contest between rival oligarchs, with a majority of those voting preferring the “Chocolate King” over the “Gas Princess.” For supporters of the violently ousted former president and advocates of autonomy or independence in the eastern regions of the country, Kiev delivered bombs rather than ballots, with a rising toll of dead and wounded. No doubt the rest of Ukraine will soon experience buyer’s remorse when they face savage austerity and economic catastrophe imposed by the IMF as the price of the ticket to join “Europe.”
If you notice something similar in the Syrian and Egyptian elections, then you just don’t have a correct understanding of American “democracy promotion.” In Egypt, the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia are supporting and arming the el-Sisi regime so it can repress “Islamist terrorism”; in Syria we and our allies are backing “moderate” Islamists and al-Qaeda allied groups to oppose “dictatorship.” Get it? Meanwhile, in Ukraine, we are cheering on the Kiev government – including some openly neo-Nazi thugs – to repress “terrorist” fellow citizens in Donietsk and Mariupol. More “democracy promotion”. . .
In our own country, Wall Street has not yet chosen its candidate for President in 2016, but rumors are that the hedge-fund billionaires will back either a reliable Republican or a docile Democrat – or, more likely, both. As one Egyptian summed up his election choices, “A plague or a cancer, which do you want?”