In less than ten days, on the 3rd of next month, the presidential elections will be held in Syria despite the fierce fighting that continues unabated in all parts of the country. The government’s troops are close to breaking a 13 month long siege on Aleppo’s main prison, one of the battles that is being viewed as high priority, even if it is only for symbolic reasons. The opposition to the government is as divided as ever, with as many as 1000 different groups commanding over 100,000 fighters from all parts of the world. The fighters themselves might not be Syrians, but those that die as innocent bystanders are. Over 100,000 Syrians have died in the past three years and nine million people have been displaced.

The Geneva talks have all but failed. Bashar al-Assad still exerts complete control over the regime, and the elections are nothing but a self-affirmation of his power over the country. Rigging the elections is going to be no problem amidst the fighting, but it is likely to lead to an escalation of casualties, as the rebels will do anything they can to derail the process on the 3rd of next month. With either side refusing to back down, the only concessions that could be implemented would be moderate reforms if the rebels agree to accept that Mr. Assad’s government is here to stay. The unsteady stalemate makes it impossible for any outright military victory for either side, although the regime does have the added advantage of airpower in their arsenal. This they have used to devastating effect, carpet bombing areas that have even the slightest hint of rebel activity, not concerned with the civilians that are caught in the crossfire.

Experts suggest that if the present situation stays the same, then the government will manage to win the conflict by next year, but at what cost? Bashar al-Assad will manage to retain control but there is no turning back from all the atrocities that have been committed by both sides during the last three years. Out of 24 hopefuls, 3 candidates were selected for the presidential elections by the constitutional court. Out of the 3, the only one actually campaigning is Bashar al-Assad. After the election, things will continue as they are, with the government’s unrelenting ‘starve or surrender’ policy making life a living hell for the civilians that are trapped with no hope for rescue.