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 Post subject: An election to anoint an occupation
PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:24 am 
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An election to anoint an occupation

Had it been held in Zimbabwe, the west would have denounced it

Salim Lone
Monday January 31, 2005
The Guardian

Tony Blair and George Bush were quick to characterise yesterday's election as a triumph of democracy over terror. Bush declared it a "resounding success", while Blair asserted that "The force of freedom was felt throughout Iraq". And yet the election fell so completely short of accepted electoral standards that had it been held in, say, Zimbabwe or Syria, Britain and America would have been the first to denounce it.

Draconian security measures left Iraq's cities looking like ghost towns. The ballot papers were so complicated that even Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader, needed a briefing on how to use one. Most candidates had been afraid to be seen in public, or to link their names to their faces in the media. The United Iraqi Alliance, identifying only 37 of their 225 candidates, explained: "We offer apologies for not mentioning the names of all the candidates ... We have to keep them alive."

The millions of Iraqis, as well as the UN electoral team and the Iraqi election commission staff, who did participate in the process despite the grave risk, deserve our respect. But it was a risk taken in vain. The election was illegitimate, and cannot resolve the rampant insecurity resulting from the occupation. The only way to stop the destruction of Iraq is to end the occupation and enfranchise the Sunnis, who are leading the resistance because they see the US as systematically excluding them from the role they deserve to play in Iraq.

Indeed, this so-called election, with its national rather than provincial voting rolls, was designed to reduce Sunni representation and to anoint US-supported groups who will allow this occupation to continue. A high turnout does not change the fact that this is an illegitimate, occupier's election.

Early in the occupation, the Bush administration recognised that a democratic Iraq would not countenance the strategic goals the war was fought for: controlling the oil reserves and establishing military bases to enable the political transformation the neocons envisage for the Middle East. Even as the US proclaimed its mission as introducing democracy to Iraq, they worked to make sure that the processes they put in place would produce leaders they had picked. The US obtained a carefully circumscribed UN involvement in order to provide the chosen leaders a measure of legitimacy.

It was clear to those of us in Baghdad right after Saddam's fall that no long-term American project there would succeed. The limited self-governance plan was a non-starter because of the transparent control the US exercised over the process. In any event, virtually no Iraqis, not even those benefiting from the US presence, see the superpower as a promoter of human rights and democracy - even before the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, Najaf and Falluja.

Each US-dictated self-governance milestone therefore backfired just like the current election undoubtably will, generating wider support for and bloodier attacks by the insurgency. The first devastating attacks on the foreign presence in Iraq, for example, came soon after the US selected the Iraqi Governing Council: first the Jordanian mission, then the UN's Baghdad headquarters, were blown up.

In its search for greater legitimacy for its preferred Iraqi leadership, the US has avoided the UN security council, since most of its members abhor what is being done to Iraq. The US has instead chosen to work with individual representatives. The first such UN involvement, when the late Sergio Vieira de Mello headed the UN mission in Iraq, was the most effective. He was able to persuade the then US proconsul, Paul Bremer, that he should appoint an Iraqi Governing Council rather than an advisory body. Even then, the anger about the individuals and groups on this council, and for UN support for it, was palpable in Iraq.

Nearly a year later, in another bid for UN support, Bush assured the world that the interim government would be picked by Lakhdar Brahimi, Kofi Annan's special representative. Brahimi spent weeks in Iraq consulting domestic groups about who they felt should lead the country. But on the day the interim government was to be appointed, a deal was struck by the Americans behind Brahimi's back, to make the CIA-linked Ayad Allawi prime minister.

The US has little popular support in the country. It has, however, won the support of the extremely influential Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who tolerates an occupation most of his followers hate, with the single-minded sectarian goal of having the majority Shia at the helm of power in Iraq. The occupation has destroyed Iraq and is destabilising the world by exacerbating the deep animosity that most Arabs and Muslims feel for the US. The Bush administration is now provoking the Muslim world by threats against Iran. The rest of the world looks on, mostly helplessly.

ยท Salim Lone was director of communications for Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN special representative in Iraq, who was killed in August 2003


There has been virtually no mention by the television media of the fact that these elections are illegitimate. Instead, the TV media has been praising the elections, agreeing with the Bush administrations assessment that they were a "success". On TV, they have been interviewing Iraqi's in the U.S. and in Iraq who have voted. Not much mention to the Iraqi's here in NYC who could not vote because the closest polls were Washington, DC. Instead the media has been showing these Iraqi's to almost promote this sunny picture of how we've brought democracy to the Iraqi's. There has been no mention of the fact that all of the violence and fear that the Iraqi's now live with has been do the presence of the U.S. Forces. Nor has there been any mention of the fact that we are in Iraq illegally. No, everything, like usual has been swept under the rug and
I can't wait till the State of the Union this week to hear even more spin about these elections. I don't know if I can handle any more talk about how we have brought freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people.


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:27 pm 
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They call it "conditional democracy" with a very small "d" :

(To be read while listening to the Platter's "The Great Pretender")


MILAN RAI, ELECTRONIC IRAQ - 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. . .

What has been off the agenda, due to a colossal act of media
self-censorship, is the division of power between the elected Iraqi
National Assembly and the unelected US-led occupation. There are
several levers of power that the US has created to retain control.

One US device is the Transitional Administrative Law, an interim
constitution written in Washington and imposed on Iraq in March 2004.

Jawad al-Maliki, member of Daawa, one of the two main Shia parties, has
pointed out correctly that 'the body which we have elected has more
legitimacy than this document.' Unfortunately, the TAL is self-defined
as the default constitution of Iraq until a permanent constitution has
been adopted in a referendum.

In a clause bitterly rejected by the Shia majority parties, the TAL
states that the permanent constitution must obtain the approval of at
least one-third of the voters in sixteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces.
This was put in to give Kurdish provinces a veto over the final text. .
. If this veto is used by the Kurds, the TAL continues to be the
constitution. (And, according to Article 59 of the TAL, the Iraqi
military will continue to function under US command.)

The effect of these provisions of the Transitional Administrative Law
is to give Washington's most loyal clients in Iraq - the Kurds - a
powerful veto over political progress.

Another device for US control is the debt relief plan put together in
November 2004, under which some of Iraq's creditor nations will forgive
some of Iraq's debt (in stages), conditional upon the Iraqi government
following an IMF 'liberalization' program. This program will prioritize
foreign investors, privatization, and 'tax reform', but not
unemployment or poverty in Iraq. . .

The main tool of US control is, of course, military. As the FT pointed
out recently, 'US leverage rests upon awareness among the Shia that
their government is unlikely to survive a civil war without continued
US support'. The Shia coalition that won the greatest number of votes in
the election had to announce its list of candidates in the Convention
Centre in the US-controlled 'Green Zone' in Baghdad, 'protected by US
soldiers'. . .

Another device for maintaining control was Paul Bremer's appointment of
key officials for five year terms just before leaving office. In June
2004, the US governor ordered that the national security adviser and
the national intelligence chief chosen by the US-imposed interim prime
minister, Iyad Allawi, be given five-year terms, imposing Allawi's
choices on the elected government. Bremer also installed
inspectors-general for five-year terms in every ministry, and formed
and filled commissions to regulate communications, public broadcasting and securities markets.


If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess freedom and yet deprecate agitation, want crops without plowing and rain without thunder. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will. - Frederick Douglass

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