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Iraq’s Fake Elections:

More Resistance, Occupation Unraveling

by Arthur Henson and Mick Kelly |
March 1, 2005
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Insurgents are continuing to mount attacks across Iraq, targeting oil pipelines, military installations and U.S. troops, along with American-trained Iraqi police and guardsmen. As of late February more that 1500 U.S. troops died. Ten times that number were wounded. Reports indicate more than 100,000 Iraqis have died since the invasion.

In the face of challenges to the Iraq occupation, the U.S. is now threatening nearby Syria - one of the few countries in the Middle East that is serious about safeguarding its national independence. The unraveling of the occupation of Iraq, where large areas of the country have passed out of the control of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government, signals a deepening crisis for U.S. policymakers.

Elections

So far the Bush administration has nothing to show for its ‘election’ in Iraq, other than a barrage of media hype. We are told that millions participated; we are shown pictures of people standing in line. However, the only international observers were in Jordan and journalists were restricted to relatively high-turnout areas. The claimed total of 7 million voters is less than 40% of those eligible.

No party with a stated program for U.S. withdrawal was allowed to participate in the election. ‘Security’ was only obtained by a round-the-clock mobilization of U.S. troops, armor and helicopters - Iraqi forces were not considered reliable enough.

The U.S. media reports the political parties under religious leadership in southern Iraq took a big lead in the vote count. This bears out administration fears that there would be little participation in the center of the country, the regional heart of the resistance, where around 45% of the people live.

This is bad news for the occupation. The corporate media likes to talk about the Sunni-Shiite divide - a conflict along religious the lines. There are large Shia communities throughout central Iraq, but the turnout in these communities was low, like that in Sunni communities. Many Shia forces boycotted the elections, including the followers of nationalist Shia clergyman Moqtada al-Sadr.

The post-election period has shown no drop in violence. For example, The Jerusalem Post reported four U.S. soldiers killed in roadside bombings on Feb. 5. On the same day, U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said he could give no date when Iraqi police and armed forces could take over.

Most significantly, the U.S. military has gone on series of offensives, killing and imprisoning pro-resistance Iraqis. Employing a tactic that was used in Vietnam, U.S. forces are surrounding villages and cities in central and northern Iraq. They cut the urban areas off from the surrounding countryside, conduct interrogations and house-to-house searches and take into custody anyone they think is connected to the insurgent movement.

‘Democracy’ at the point of an outsider’s gun, backed up an invader’s artillery and aircraft, is the opposite of anything that resembles a real democracy. It is the dictatorship of an empire based in Washington D.C. U.S. imperialism has a chain of command that extends downward from the Pentagon and the White House (and its corporate backers) to the puppets who spend their days in the Green Zone, the fortified area of central Baghdad. The Green Zone is where the U.S.-backed Iraqi government conducts its business, along with the U.S. embassy, the subsidiaries of Halliburton, foreign mercenaries and others who dream of growing rich from the land, labor and resources of Iraq.

Crisis Deepens

The Jan. 30 ‘elections’ may well be Washington’s last shot at setting up a puppet government in Iraq.

The first U.S. overlord in Iraq, General Jay Garner, only lasted three weeks. Then Paul Bremer was sent in to establish the Iraqi Governing Council with the help of the UN. Within a few weeks the Iraqi resistance demolished the Baghdad headquarters of the UN and showed itself to be a potent and political force. Patriotic Iraqis viewed Bremer with hatred and contempt. In the end he had to leave.

Next Washington set up the Interim Governing Authority under CIA agent Iyad Allawi, and John Negroponte replaced Bremer. Negroponte had the right credentials - he had presided over a U.S.-sponsored ‘counterinsurgency’ bloodbath in Central America in the 1980’s.

Through all of these changes the Iraqi resistance grew in scope and intensity. The predicament of the occupation steadily became worse. Now Negroponte will come home to run U.S. intelligence efforts.

The significance of the elections for the U.S. was stated in the Jan. 7 Washington Post by Anthony H. Cordesman, a former Pentagon official and now senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said, “Our success more and more depends on, not on our skill at war, but whether the Iraqis as political leaders can lead and govern, whether Iraqi security and military forces can take up the burden of the counterinsurgency battle and whether Iraqis can form a state. If they fail politically or fail to govern or fail to provide adequate military or security forces, nothing we do military or politically or with our allies is going to matter.”

For the Iraqi side, Harith al-Dhari, chairman of the patriotic Muslim Scholars Association, told Al-Ahram Weekly on Jan. 22, “The Iraqis do not feel that these elections will lead to the fulfillment of their main demand, which is the end of the U.S. occupation. They simply do not see a light at the end of the dark tunnel…Therefore, if the Americans want to bring an end to the problems and reach stability, they should commit themselves to a declared schedule for withdrawing their troops from Iraq.”

Al-Dhari spoke of, “the total or the near total destruction of the cities of Najaf and Falluja. How can people be expected to have elections under such circumstances? The major demand for which Iraqis have undergone such suffering [the end of the occupation] will not be obtained through the elections. The Iraqi people do not expect these elections to produce anything but a government that will always do America’s bidding, and all indications are that the forthcoming government under U.S. occupation will be weak and rubberstamp every American wish.”

One reaction in the White House to the defeats at the hands of the Iraqi resistance is to lash out at and threaten other countries in the Arab world that safeguard their national independence, in particular Syria and Iran.

U.S. Out Now

The people of Iraq and people of the United States share a common enemy - the Bush administration and its corporate sponsors.

As the Bush administration continues to pour money needed for the U.S. people into the unjust occupation of Iraq, it is important that the anti-war movement continues to be active and vocal. We need to expose the lies that continue to be told by the media - lies that the U.S. is liberating the people of Iraq, or that any election under occupation can be free and fair.

We must insist that Iraqi people have the right to choose their own destiny. Iraqis who are fighting to free their country of foreign domination are doing nothing wrong. They are doing what occupied peoples have done time and time again - standing up to take back their own country.

In the months ahead its vital for all of us come out into the streets and demand U.S. troops out now! The second anniversary of the beginning of the war on Iraq comes on March 20, and demonstrations against the occupation will be taking place across the United States. Everything possible should be done to build these protests.

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