Article from the Feb. 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
Iraq elections: No end to Nightmare
by Chris Loughlin
ELECTIONS TOOK place in Iraq on 30 January. The verdict in the western media was that these elections were an undoubted success, "historic" moments were just some of the memorable cliches bandied about endlessly by journalists. Iyad Allawi, the interim government's Prime Minister called it a "great day!"
Turn out has been claimed at 55-60%, with the Sunni minority boycotting the election (about 20% of Iraq's population). However only 44% of those eligible voted, and the majority of those who did, voted to remove US and British troops.
This supposedly "free and fair" election must go down in history as one of the most chaotic, fraudulent and undemocratic elections ever held. Iraqis were voting for a government that will be kept in power by the bayonets of 150,000 imperialist occupation troops. What is more, the elections were held under the auspices of a pro-imperialist stooge government headed by ex-CIA man Iyad Allawi which itself has been kept in power only thanks to the benefits of US weapons of mass destruction. The new government will not have legitimacy in the eyes of the Sunni minority and it remains to be seen how the Sunnis will be reconciled into the constitutional and governmental apparatus. Widespread voting irregularities, which have been openly admitted in the western and Iraqi media and which were noted by electoral monitors have gone unchallenged by any single candidate or list that took part in the election. The 260 attacks by the resistance on 30 January was the single largest number of attacks on any one day since the occupation began.
It looks likely that the Unified Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Shiite list that was backed by cleric Ali al-Sistani, will win the most votes in the election. The Allawi led, more secular Shiite list is looking as if it will pick up 10% with the list that included the Iraqi Communist Party also taking 10%. What must be analysed and realised when looking at these elections is that the Iraqi people did not endorse the occupation.
The Iraqi people voted for freedom of speech and conscience, freedom from the imperialist occupation and the arbitrary curfews, arrests and brutality that go along with it. The Kurds voted for independence, while the Shiites voted for a better standard of living, especially in areas of Iraq crippled by the affliction of unemployment.
What also seems more likely in the future is more sectarian conflict and the "balkanisation" of Iraq. Each ethnic grouping is now pulling in a different direction and the role of other Middle Eastern regimes will be of critical importance in the future. Turkey will not stand for independence for the Kurds; Iran would take a dim view of it as well, while the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia is being looked upon with greater and greater unease by the monarchy.
The Allawi government was exposed as the pro-imperialist stooge regime it was, as in turn will the government that emerges from these elections. Bush and Blair will not pull out until they have secured a pro-West regime, yet the Iraqi people want them out.
The war on Iraq began as a war for oil, so it continues as an occupation for oil. Only struggle and bitter experience will show the Iraqi people that a new government that is tied to imperialism will never deliver freedom from poverty but only oppression and exploitation.
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