The Supreme Constitutional Court has approved three candidates for Syria's highest post: domestic opposition representative Mahmoud Ahmed (Ahmad) Marei, ex-State Minister and former Socialist Party deputy Abdallah Salloum Abdallah, as well as current head of state Bashar Hafez al-Assad.
According to most regional political analysts, the current leader has the greatest potential to win the upcoming election, as his program envisages workable schemes for Syria's internal crisis recovery and economic restoration in the best interests of ordinary people.
A British-trained ophthalmologist, Bashar al-Assad was first elected to the post in 2000 after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, who had been president for 30 years. During his rule, Bashar al-Assad carried out quite a number of essential socio-economic and political reforms, which made it possible to almost completely eliminate the hand-to-mouth existence of numerous social groups in Syria. The events of 2011 prevented the president from pursuing negotiations with Israel to the normalize bilateral relations.
The election will be held in two-thirds of the territory controlled by government forces. There are over six thousand polling stations deployed there, the access security of which will be provided by the Syrian military. A group of Russian troops in Syria is also going to be engaged.
Those dwelling in the territories controlled by the armed Syrian opposition, the Turkish Armed Forces and the pro-American Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in the Idlib de-escalation zone, the Afrin enclave, in the north and north-east of Syria will not take part in the vote.
For reasons of election safety, the country's military and political leadership has brought all the law enforcement agencies to a hair-trigger alert, enhancing security of state institutions, administrative buildings, local authorities and self-government bodies, as well as highways, roads and transport hubs. Mobile patrols have been initiated in cities and major population centers, with additional roadblocks set up to check vehicles and cargoes. May 26 is declared an official holiday.
At the same time, there is a good chance that anti-government forces will try to destabilize the situation in a number of regions on the eve of elections and on its very day. Thus, according to the Syrian military intelligence, six containers with chlorine-based toxic substance were delivered to the province of Idlib from the neighboring territory by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (former al-Nusra, a Muslim terrorist group banned in Russia).
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued an official statement on this issue, indicating that the militants plan to carry out a staged chemical attack and its consequences in the form of victims and injuries among local residents. Two trucks loaded with chemical weapons have been reported to proceed to the town of Jisr al-Shughur, accompanied by militants disguised as members of the White Helmets pseudo-humanitarian organization.
It should be reminded that in early April this year, it was out in the open that the militants delivered toxic substances to the Idlib Governorate. However, the use of chemical weapons was thwarted by the air force back then. And according to information leaked from Idlib, the failure occurred over poison manufacturing procedural violations, causing the death of four "chemical militants"...
Ahead of the vote, the Syrian government forces, in coordination with the Russian Aerospace Forces and unconventional units, conducted a counter-terrorist operation in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Raqqa, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor. Its outcome will be likely announced after the presidential elections. But even as we speak, the Syrian and Russian commanders are noticing a dramatic drop in the activities of the Islamic State (an international Muslim terrorist group banned in Russia) and its allies.