Article from the Jan 2005 issue of the Socialist , newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
Iraq elections: No democracy, no peace
by Matt Waine
LIKE THE buildings of Fallujah, the election plans of US imperialism lie in rubble. Despite the brave statements from Iraq's Premier Iyad Allawi that elections will go ahead, his own President al-Yawar has admitted that the current level of violence may make this month's vote unworkable.
A decision to extend martial law came at the end of a bloody week for the stooge Iraqi government and US occupiers. Suicide bombers killed 21 people in attacks on an Iraqi police academy in the town of Hilla and at a checkpoint in Baquba, bringing to 90 the number of people killed in the last week. Baghdad's provincial governor al-Haidri was also assassinated on 6 January.
The almost daily suicide attacks on Iraqi security forces has forced Bush to admit that Iraqi forces are not up to the job of maintaining security - and these are the people supposed to defend the polling stations on 30 January. Despite the violence, it is likely that an election will go ahead. But the character of that election and the results will not bring stability to Iraq, but can further intensify the problems the occupation forces face.
All the main Sunni parties have decided to boycott the elections and have called on all Iraqis to do the same. The American generals are now saying that only four of Iraq's 18 provinces may not be able to "fully" participate in the elections. However, those four provinces contain more than half of the population of Iraq. Therefore, whatever the result, it will not be representative of the Sunnis who make up over 20 per cent of Iraq's population. The most likely outcome of elections held under these conditions is a Shia dominated assembly. This could further alienate Sunnis already enraged by the destruction of their homes, basic facilities and mass unemployment, and increase support for the resistance. It could also intensify religious and ethnic divisions.
In response to this a White House official said "there is a willingness to play with the end result - not changing the figures, but maybe guaranteeing that a certain number of seats go to Sunni areas even if their candidates did not receive a certain percentage of the vote", The Guardian, 27 December 2004. This is democracy Washington style. They will fiddle the votes to get the result they want.
However no amount of fiddling can resolve the problem of severe military overstretch that is now hampering US military actions in Iraq. The number of US soldiers killed in Iraq has passed 1,350 with over 10,000 injured and there are more and more complaints from the army that they are badly overstretched and are lacking in vital equipment. The situation has become so bad that retired General Gary Luck is to be sent to Iraq to carry out an extraordinary "open-ended" review of the military's entire Iraq policy.
Military officials are also planning a policy change to require National Guard and reserve soldiers to serve more time. On top of that, in a memo leaked to the media, General James Helmly, the officer in charge of the US Army Reserve of 200,000 troops, said that his force was "dysfunctional" and "broken". Members of a cross-party group of British MPs came back from Iraq recently saying that troops would have to stay there for another 10 to 15 years!
However, it is not only military overstretch which concerns the US and British forces. The resistance has increased its support amongst the masses especially among working class Sunni and Shia youth who see no future under an American stooge regime. Iraqi government security officials claim that there may be as many as "40,000 hardcore resistance fighters" being supported by up to 200,000 others.
However, a lasting solution to the present crisis will not be found in the current policies and tactics of the resistance movement or the continued occupation of Iraq. Nor will it be found after the 30 January elections for that matter. The only solution can come from the Iraqi working class who could drive imperialism and their oil companies and building corporations out of Iraq and the region. If this task is to be achieved, a new party that brings together Shia, Sunni and Kurdish workers and youth, armed with a socialist programme must be built.