Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Iraq: Elections under the barrel of the occupier’s gun

By Kosta Harlan

Parliamentary elections took place in occupied Iraq on March 8 as rockets and mortars slammed into the Green Zone and U.S. military bases across the country. The U.S. government and its allies in occupied Iraq have hailed the election as a victory for democracy ( Newsweek went so far as to write “Victory at last” across the cover of their latest issue), but the reality is anything but. The elections are nothing but a continuation of the same illegal, unjust occupation political process that began when the U.S. invaded and overthrew the anti-imperialist Iraqi government in 2003. The latest election only serves to consolidate the existence of a puppet regime loyal to the U.S. occupation.

Indeed, consider the two front-runners of the election, current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Allawi provided bogus information about the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ to British intelligence that helped build the case to invade Iraq in 2003. He cooperated with numerous foreign intelligence agencies to help overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government. As a servant of the occupation, Allawi presided over the horrific assault on the city of Fallujah in November 2004, in which thousands of Iraqis were killed while the city was reduced to rubble by the U.S. military. He went on to help set up death squads to target resistance forces and those who sympathized with the resistance; these death squads murdered tens of thousands. As for Nouri Al-Maliki, the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis is on his hands, as he co-led the effort with U.S. forces to wipe out the Iraqi national resistance during the ‘surge’ of 2006 and 2007. His government is infamous for its support to sectarian death squads that targeted Sunni Iraqis.

Clearly nothing democratic or progressive can emerge from either of these loyal servants of the U.S. occupation.

Repression in Iraq

The election was carried out under the eyes of 100,000 U.S. troops and 675,000 occupation police and soldiers. Numerous reports of intimidation, assassinations of candidates, voter fraud and corruption emerged in recent weeks. (Iraq is ranked 176 out of 180 for the most corrupt governments in the world.) Over 500 candidates were banned from participation in the elections, after puppet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared that the candidates were supporters of the underground Baath Party. The Iraqi newspaper Azzaman reported that a week prior to the elections, 67 bodies were brought to the Baghdad morgue, all shot with silencer guns. The sources to Azzaman reported that the majority of those killed were civil servants, former Baathists and army officers. A day later Dr. Thamer Kamel, head of human rights section at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, was shot dead.

Iraqi resistance calls for boycott of elections

The Iraqi resistance, which continues to carry out over 180 attacks each week against U.S. and occupation forces, urged a boycott of the parliamentary elections. “We will not be a party in the electoral process and in the political process as long as the occupation exists in Iraq,” explained Professor Sheikh Harith al-Dhari, the Secretary General of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq and the spokesperson for the Jihad and Change Front, one of the largest resistance organizations in Iraq. “It is a principle we abide by and we will hold the same position until the withdrawal of the occupation.”

In a prepared statement, the Jihad and Change Front, a coalition of ten resistance groups, said, “The Iraqi people and its resistance see that the participants of the political process from the blocs, parties and individuals do not represent the will of the Iraqi people. The participation to election is to strengthen the will of the occupation and to enable him to extend and enforce agreements to realize its interests. It will bring us nothing only destruction and corruption.”

Reality on the ground in Iraq

Contrary to the rosy pictures painted by commanding General Raymond Odierno and the mainstream media, conditions in Iraq are extremely dire. Over a million Iraqis were killed by occupying forces over the six years, leaving millions of orphans and shattered families. Tens of thousands of Iraqis languish in occupation jails. Two million Iraqis have fled the country; 3.7 million are internally displaced. Less than 100,000 returned to their homes last year.

Baghdad has an average of 15 hours of electricity a day. About half the population has access to more than 12 hours of electricity a day. 50% of Iraqis lack adequate housing; less than half of Iraqis have access to drinking water and only 20% have access to sanitation services. Only 30% of Iraqis have access to any level of health services – never mind that most hospitals are severely understaffed and undersupplied. Unemployment and underemployment haunt millions of Iraqis who struggle to make ends meet for their families.

In the 1970s and 1980s, oil revenues were used to benefit the entire Iraqi population and Iraq had one of the most advanced medical systems, best educational systems and highest literacy rates in the Middle East. Today, all of that has been destroyed.

End the occupation

As the occupation drags into its seventh year, the need to rebuild the anti-war movement and pressure the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq has never been greater. Despite the propaganda and the lies to the contrary, nothing progressive or democratic can emerge in Iraq until the hated occupation is ended and Iraq’s people are free to determine their own destiny. Progressives in the United States must support the patriotic forces who resist the occupation and do everything possible to hasten the day of Iraq’s liberation.

#Iraq #AntiwarMovement #Occupation #Resistance #MiddleEast