Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, speaking on national radio all the way from Vienna this morning, called for the ouster of a sovereign nation’s leader … while at the same time cranking up the campaigning for her own government’s re-election in the upcoming federal elections on 2 July.
Democracy’s fine for some, but not for others apparently.
Yes that’s right, back in April, Syria held democratic elections. But you could be forgiven for not knowing that. The elections weren’t deemed all that newsworthy.
Here’s a quick rundown in case you did miss it.
On 17 April Press TV reported that: “The Syrian electoral commission announced late Saturday that the National Unity coalition, comprising the ruling party and its allies, had won 200 of the 250 seats at the People’s Assembly (Majlis al-Sha’ab).”
And on 18 April, Ken Stone covered April’s Syrian election for 21st Century Wire, writing that:
Tuesday’s Syrian election was a vote of confidence by the Syrian people in their government. 5,085,444 voters cast their ballots out of a possible 8,834,994 eligible voters.
The overall participation rate of 58% (virtually identical to Canada’s last federal election) exceeded the government’s expectations in most places but was low in others.
For example, it was over 80% in Homs but only 52% in Tartous. What might explain the uneven results is the history of the war. People who suffered the most from the war, for example in Homs, were probably more grateful for their liberation and more motivated to exercise their political rights than people in Tartous who saw no fighting at all (though they lost thousands upon thousands of sons and grandsons in the war).
These latest election results come just two years after Bashar al-Assad won a landslide victory of 88.7% in the country’s presidential elections. Now, were these elections completely free and fair? Probably not … but then again questions can be raised about most elections (voting irregularities in the current Democratic primaries for example). But what these two election results do clearly demonstrate is that Assad and his government have overwhelming support from a large portion of Syria’s war-ravaged population.
But for Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop that’s just not good enough.
Speaking on ABC Radio’s national AM program this morning, in a brazen display of hypocrisy she told presenter Michael Brissenden that “the status quo is not acceptable”.
Not acceptable to who Ms Bishop? The Syrian people … or you?
Here’s a taste of that fair and balanced conversation on the national broadcaster this morning. You can find the full transcript of the interview here.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: So it’s the Syrian regime that is largely blocking the access of aid agencies to these places, particularly a place called Daraya.
Have they given any indication that blockade will be lifted?
JULIE BISHOP: Almost certainly, the Russians and Iranians who have greater influence over the Assad regime made it clear that they were committed to resolving the humanitarian crisis and were quite outspoken about the need to ensure that humanitarian relief was received across the country in all the areas of need.
It’s not only the regime, but they have more certainly been the subject of ongoing reports of blocking or raiding or compromising the humanitarian relief supplies.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: This is still the heart of the dilemma, really, at the core of these discussions because the majority of the group there believe there can’t be a lasting future for Syria with Assad – but Russia clearly doesn’t see it that way, does it?
JULIE BISHOP: Well, a deadline has now been imposed for negotiations for potential political situation and quite clearly the current situation cannot continue. The status quo is just not acceptable.
So there needs to be a political solution and all parties, including the Russians, have signed up to a transitional phase with an alternate national unity government and a political framework decided upon by the Syrian people.
I don’t believe that Russia is so committed to Assad that they see him as an ally. Most certainly they believe that there should not be a vacuum in Damascus, but they did sign up to the idea of a political solution with a transition period that is to be negotiated before August.
So the meeting was worthwhile in that sense, and progress has been made but there is certainly a long way to go.
Imagine. If barely a month after the federal election on 2 July, a Foreign Minister from a country 14,000 kilometres away were to stand up at a meeting in Vienna and declare that in relation to the newly-elected Australian government “the status quo cannot continue”.
A different perspective
For a perspective that challenges the western mainstream media’s agenda-addled Syria narrative currently being thrust upon us, check out investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley’s site thewallwilfall and Eva Bartlett’s interview I’m back from Syria. The media is lying to you! for starters.
These two intrepid journalists actually do travel to the countries and talk with the people on which they are reporting.