DAMASCUS, Syria — The temperature had exceeded 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Syrian capital. Traveling to the office of a government official required circumventing multiple blocked roads. The taxi driver took the initiative to explain: "The old presidential palace, known as Muhajireen Palace, is located here. It lies in the center of Damascus, in a neighborhood carrying the same name, Muhajireen. The president now spends much of his time here." He then said, "As for his house, it's located across the street [from the palace]. He moves between the two without large escorts or tight security measures. But this is what necessitated the closure of some of the narrow streets surrounding the location."
In the office of the Syrian government official, who requested anonymity, the air conditioner was running slowly. However, he was smiling and seemed relaxed, even delighted. He presented all of the developments occurring in his country with clear optimism. These developments ranged from the balance of military forces, international stances, public and secret diplomatic contacts, all the way to preparations for the presidential elections scheduled for June 3. Al-Monitor asked him: If President Bashar al-Assad is re-elected, and if this occurs with a large voter turnout, according to what you will announce, how will other countries deal with that? Will there be an external acknowledgment of the electoral process and its results?