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Iraq’s Fraud Elections

By Ghali Hassan

01/06/04 "ICH" -- Elections are due on 30 January 2005 in Iraq, after nearly two years of brutal Occupation. The elections were design to consolidate the Occupation, “legitimise” those who serve US interests in Iraq, and hence prolong the suffering of the Iraqi people. The purpose of the elections is to deceive the peoples of the world.

The Bush administration is counting on the current US-appointed Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) to form the Iraqi “façade” in Baghdad. However, this is not the case. The Allawi’s “government” is far less popular among Iraqis than the regime of Saddam, and Allawi is the most hated individual in Iraq today. Furthermore, Iraqis see all members of the IIG as collaborators with the Occupation and hold no loyalty to Iraq.

The core of the IIG are: The Allawi’s group of exiles (INA), the Chalebi’s group of exiles (INC), the Peshmergas of the two Kurdish parties, and the Badir Brigade (Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI), mostly of Iranian origins. Their relations with the Occupation are fully symbiotic relations. They co-exist in a mutually beneficial relationship with their US master. They are participating in the upcoming elections, because they serve their own interests. 

Members of the IIG groups are forming new block, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), whose alliance includes a smattering of Shiites and non-Shiites elements. The UIA includes Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani and Ahmed Chalebi and everyone in-between. They made it very clear that if they gain power by the elections, they would not demand the immediate withdrawal of American troops. 

Behind the scene, the Bush administration is grooming its stooge and Occupation spokesman, Iyad Allawi. His group and other groups in the IIG are rigging the elections by enticing Iraqis living abroad to vote for the current IIG members, assassinating members of the Iraqi Muslim Cleric’s Associations, kidnapping and detaining Iraqi politicians, and providing citizenships and election ballots to illegal Iranians to vote in Iraqi elections. “When it comes to fixing elections, the Bush administration has a way of making the lame walk”, writes Gary Younge of the Guardian. 

Victory is guaranteed to those who work for the Occupation and serve US interests. Furthermore, for the first time in the history of elections, candidates have not been unveiled as yet, and women have been denied their gender identity in the only male voting cards. In addition, the upcoming elections deny the Iraqi people their basic rights to choose either to vote against or for the Occupation of their country. These are few of the features of Iraq preparing for “democratic” elections under US Occupation, portrayed in western media as “democratic” elections.

It is not possible to hold free and fair elections in a country under foreign Occupation and martial law. Those who favour elections under Occupation are naïve. President Vladimir Putin of Russia said recently: ”Honestly speaking, I cannot imagine how it is possible to organise elections in a country under conditions of total occupation by foreign forces... It’s absurd. It’s a farce. Everything is upside down”, he said, condemning European elections monitors’ plans to observe the poll from Jordan as a “farce”. Mr. Putin must know very well how to organise “democratic” elections under occupation. 

It is important to remember that most Iraqis accept free and fair elections under UN control, provide that US troops be replaced by UN troops from neutral nations. Six months after the invasion, the US and its “coalition of the willing” were able to hold elections but they refused because they were not interested in a democratic outcome that could end of the Occupation. UN officials and Iraqi officials argued at the time that elections were feasible and possible within six months, but they were dismissed by the US. The Bush administration “stifled, delayed, manipulated and otherwise thwarted the democratic aspiration of the Iraqi people”, writes Canadian journalist and author, Naomi Klein, one of the very few honourable voices in the West. It was Washington who replaced the process of democracy with violence.

American anti-democratic and influential agencies, with long records of manipulating foreign democracies to suit Washington’s interests, have their hands in the elections process. The International Republican Institute (IRI) headed by Republican Senator John McCain has received over $80 million to conduct political and electoral activities in Iraq. The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), headed by Madeleine Albright is back this time to “help” Iraqis with democracy. The idea is appalling beyond belief, given the despicable behaviour of Ms. Albright against the Iraqi children during the genocidal sanctions. 

Both groups have highly subversive and partial reputations. The IRI and the NDI are offshoots of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). A quasi-private institution sponsored by Washington. According to Jim Tarbell and Roger Burbach of the Centre for the Study of the Americas (CENSA), “democracy at the NED is by no means a popular democracy with broad participation. Instead NED promotes a top-down, controlled democracy in which the elites govern and the popular classes are only given token participation at election time. Meanwhile private economic power reigns supreme”. In addition to its role in promoting the invasion of Iraq since 1997, NED was also involved in the last year coup d’état against the democratically elected Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
Commenting on this new ‘democracy-building’ enterprise, Thomas Carothers, director of the Democracy Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said recently, “Beneath the new interest of the United States in bringing democracy to the Middle East is the central dilemma that the most powerful, popular movements are the ones that we [Americans] are deeply uncomfortable with”. Free and democratic elections are the last thing the Bush administration needs in Iraq.

In the same way that Israel hopes to legitimise its occupation of Palestine by the use of terror, the US is hoping for similar results in Iraq. Like the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, US Occupation of Iraq is a violent occupation where innocent women, children and unarmed men have been massacred. The death toll is now more than 100,000 — half of them women and children. Thousands of Iraqis are imprisoned and tortured; the lives of millions more have been wrecked. In addition, since the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, acute malnutrition among Iraqi children between the ages of six months and 5 years has doubled.

As James Petras writes, “The terror bombing of homes, hospitals and religious buildings by hundreds of airplanes and helicopter gunships is described by the media as ‘securing the city [of Fallujah] for free elections’” will continue producing disasters elsewhere and makes no headlines in Western media.

Unlike the death toll from the latest Tsunami in South-East Asia, which has morphed into an urge to hear more updates and to see more TV footages, western media systematically ignores the death of innocent Iraqi civilians. The “stingy” outcry over natural disaster, and complete silence over the US-made disasters is the West self-induced moral hypocrisy. We can see all the “beasts in Samaritan’s clothing” shading crocodile tears, and helping those who once were called the “Asian hordes”.

Despite that, those who are responsible for the mass killing of Iraqi civilians have not been indicted with war crimes or been held accountable by prosecutors. Instead, a devastated nation and broken defenceless people are forced to vote for an old-fashion colonial dictatorship, which has its echoes in other foreign countries under the tutelage of the US administration. 

The US history of preparing fraud elections in foreign countries is wide spread. The model of democracy the US sowing in Iraq is that of dependence and subordination. From El Salvador and Nicaragua to the Philippines and Japan, and from Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to Jordan and Egypt. Everywhere, the ones that rule are those that serve US interests against the interests of the majority of the native people. 

The US is more interested in domination and empire building, rather than ‘democracy-building’. There are plenty of examples where the US and Britain supposedly spreading democracy. It is worth noting that the US Proconsul in Iraq is Mr. John Negroponte. In his previous job as the Proconsul in Honduras, Mr. Negroponte was responsible for supervising the elections of colonial dictatorships in Honduras and El Salvador, not democracy. 

After all, Iraqis proved to be more educated in the business of elections and democracy than their American occupiers. Iraqis are not putting great hope on these elections, because like the US “hand over of sovereignty” to Iraqis, the elections will have no effect on the situation on the ground. Most Iraqis view the upcoming elections as another US trick to consolidate the Occupation. The elections are set to divide the Iraqi people, according to the US-installed Occupation Transitional law (TAL). The TAL aims at breaking up of the Iraqi society and weakening the nation. It creates a dependent, sectarian Iraq ruled by US forces and US corporations.

The election process is very untransparent and lacks any democratic credential or legitimacy. Iraqis are saying: “The Americans won’t allow a legitimate election in their own country, so why would they have one here”. Like the US-orchestrated elections in Afghanistan, the outcome of the elections in Iraq is a forgone conclusion. For the US, democracy is a “necessary illusion” propagated to deny people the power of participation. In fact, elections are very minor component of democracy. Democracy, which must remain accountable to ordinary people, is a collection of institutions that govern an entire nation. 

The best solution is for the US to completely withdraw its armed forces from Iraq. All Iraqis are in favour of elections as long as the Occupation forces withdraw from Iraq. According to recent polls, 98 % of Iraqis want the Americans to leave their country. Meanwhile a poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR) has reveals that more than two-thirds of both the US public and US leaders agree that the US should withdraw from Iraq if a clear majority of Iraqis want it to do so.

Instead of finding an exit strategy to withdraw its forces and end the violence in Iraq, the Bush administration is increasing it; using the pretext of democracy. An exit strategy to end the US Occupation of Iraq is not impossible. The UN General Assembly, which is less influence by the US and Britain, is the most preferable body to take over the Iraqi affairs and helps the Iraqi people achieve sovereignty and freedom. The UN has an obligation to condemn this act of aggression and illegal occupation of a sovereign member of the world community of nations. 

Any elections under occupation must be in the form of referendum on weather or not to end the US Occupation. The small island of East Timor was a good example of ‘UN-supervised’ elections, which ended the foreign occupation of the Island and gave the people sovereignty.

An Iraqi politician said recently, “We are occupied. That is a fact. The occupiers have a team of Iraqis willing to work with them. The coming elections will be completely rigged. We are not making emotional decisions here; we have studied the situation carefully and weighed our options. After extensive meetings with many parties and people we came to the conclusion that contesting the elections would contribute to the process of legitimising the occupation. We reject the occupation and its outcomes and this includes the elections,” Salah Omar A-Ali, former Iraq’s information minister told Al-Ahram Weekly.

The upcoming elections are fraud and will not provide legitimate government. Legitimacy must be based on: the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq, and free and democratic elections. If these factors are missing, as it is the case, then resistance to the Occupation will continue until the US and its influence has disappeared from Iraq’s political system. If the government that's elected in January cannot tell the US to withdraw its troops out of the country, then it will not be an independent government of a sovereign nation. 
The US-sponsored undemocratic elections in Iraq are against the long-term interests of the Iraqi people. The upcoming elections are fraud. They will not produce democracy and sovereignty for Iraq. The best solution for Iraq is the end of US Occupation and the true liberation of the Iraqi people from foreign domination. This will allow the Iraqi people to gain their freedom and organise their country for free and fair elections.

Ghali Hassan lives in Perth Western Australia: He can be reached at e-mail: G.Hassan@exchange.curtin.edu.au

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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