The elections in Iraq

I have this right-wing bloke who, from time to time, emails me crazy stuff about how America is liberating the world in the name of God and so forth. He recently sent me something about the elections in Iraq. Most of the time I just delete his rants, but I used this one as a catalyst to read a bit about the elections and refute his claims. Below is a slightly expanded version of that email. After the effort I put into research I though it was worth preserving here.

On Fri, 2005-02-25 at 09:06 -0600, *** *** wrote:

> little old ladies etc. coming out of the polling
> places and proudly holding their ink-stained
> fingers to the press to show how proud they
> were of finally getting to vote in a democratic
> election?

Have you stopped to consider what they are actually voting for?

If you check the actual record rather than just believe the TV news propaganda, it is clear that the US government has been resisting elections since the beginning of the occupation. It blocked a quick election for the interim government which could have been carried out back in June or July 2003 (using ration cards as the basis for ID). Instead they preferred to install their own former Ba’athist to run the country – Allawi. The situation in the country was inflamed by US and British murder and torture, predictably leading to armed resistance and terrorism, as well as an upsurge in Islamic fundamentalism to levels previously unheard of in Iraq (both of which were predicted long before the war by the Western intelligence agencies). Meanwhile, the Shia masses under Sistani have been non-violently and consistently demanding two things, almost since the very beginning: immediate elections and an end to the occupation. Every opinion poll that has come out of Iraq since the beginning of the occupation has shown that the vast majority of the population are demanding an end to the occupation (these are only two Iraqi commentators, but the polls tell us the same story).

In fact it is clear that an end to the occupation is what pretty much everyone who voted in the elections was primarily voting for. The United Iraqi Alliance (the Shiite coalition) would not have won the election without calling for an end to the occupation. UIA’s 22-point platform includes a demand for “a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq.” Unfortunately, this is one election pledge they are going to find hard to fulfil because of the control the US maintains over Iraq, an essential component of which is a massive, permanent military presence in the heart of the region with the world’s largest oil reserves.

A prominent Iraqi politician in the Shia coalition told the New Yorker in January that the US had quietly told the parties before the election that there were three conditions for the new government: it should not be under the influence of Iran; it should not ask for the withdrawal of US troops; and it should not install an Islamic state.

> These people turned out in absolute record numbers
> to vote...

If (for some reason) you mean as compared to other countries, then that’s by no means clear. Saying that, the fact that any turned out to vote at all (against the occupation, don’t forget) in the face of terrorist attacks (which where unknown in Iraq before the invasion) is awe-inspiring. The victors have a clear mandate to start immediate negotiations with the Americans on the modalities of the withdrawal of American troops, as well as make a start on development of other planks of its electoral platform that the US may not find to its tastes.

Obviously, the US is not going to let such efforts succeed. So what will happen? Will Ibrahim Jafari be persuaded to sell-out his electorate somehow or will it come to a confrontation with the US? Eventual ousting of Jafari and installation of another Sunni Ba’athists thug in some sort of military coup or (more likely) eventual wrangling of a US preferred candidate within the UIA such as the reactionary Adel Abd al-Mahdi? I predict nothing.

> they [the GIs] can't wait to get back over
> there [Iraq]...

What planet are you living on? Do you actually read the news? A small sample: “For the Few and the Proud, Concern Over the ‘Few’ Part”, “Hundreds of U.S. Soldiers Emerge as Conscientious Objectors” (April 2003), “Meet the New COs”, “Three US soldiers killed in bomb attack in northern Baghdad”, “Extent of US abuse cases revealed”, “For Some, a Loss in Iraq Turns Into Antiwar Activism”, etc. etc. etc.

So to summarise; in your words Iraqis voted “in record numbers” for “a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq” (UIA/Sistani). Bush is seemingly intent on defying the expressed will of the Iraqi electorate: “We will not set an artificial time table for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out,” (State of the Union speech, February 2).

> What say you to that?

I say that the US and UK should live up to their rhetoric about freedom and democracy (i.e. leave the country).

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2 Responses to The elections in Iraq

  1. asa

    Highly relevant to the this post, and well worth reading is Jo Wilding’s Guide to the Iraqi Elections.

  2. asa

    Another follow-up article worth reading is this Naomi Klein piece which mentions a possibily key way in which the US is going to maintain control of Iraq after the new government has come in:

    “Terrified at the prospect of an Iraq ruled by the majority of Iraqis, the former chief US envoy, Paul Bremer, wrote election rules that gave the US-friendly Kurds 27% of the seats in the national assembly, even though they make up just 15% of the population.

    “Skewing matters further, the US-authored interim constitution requires that all major decisions have the support of two-thirds or, in some cases, three-quarters of the assembly – an absurdly high figure that gives the Kurds the power to block any call for foreign troop withdrawal, any attempt to roll back Bremer’s economic orders, and any part of a new constitution.”

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