January 30, 2005
Toronto Sun

Real Freedom Still Far Off

by Eric Margolis

Will today's elections for 7,785 unknown candidates in violence-racked Iraq mark the dawn of genuine Mideast democracy, as U.S. President George W. Bush claims, or be another step deeper into the bloody quagmire in Mesopotamia?

First, no election held under a foreign military occupation resulting from an unjustified war is legal under international law. During the Cold War, elections staged by the Soviets after invading Afghanistan, Hungary and Czechoslovakia were rightly denounced by the U.S. as "frauds" and the leaders elected as "stooges."

Second, Shiites, excluded from political power since Britain created Iraq in 1921, will win since they represent 60% of the population. Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani issued a fatwa, or religious decree, ordering the faithful to vote for the Shiites' coalitions.

Sistani made what some see as a pact with the devil. He is abetting at least temporary U.S. occupation and exploitation of oil-rich Iraq in exchange for Washington handing power to his fellow "good" Shiites -- not to be confused with Iran's "bad" Shiites, who are facing U.S.-Israeli attack. "Good" Shiites don't sport turbans; they sideline clerics and avoid angry Islamic mutterings.

Iraq's pro-U.S. Kurds will elect their own coalitions determined to keep their oil revenues and create a state independent in all but name.

Sunnis have lost all the power and perks they previously enjoyed, they lead resistance against U.S. Occupation They will be the odd men out, at the mercy of the hated Shiites, a sect long persecuted by mainstream Sunni Muslims as dangerous heretics and fanatics.

Third, the U.S.-"guided" regime emerging from the vote will be one of form without much substance, unless a new Shiite regime revolts and asserts its independence.

For now, Iraq's real government will continue to be the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the world's largest, and 150,000 U.S. Occupation troops.

Every important Iraqi ministry is run by U.S. "advisers" who call the shots and allocate all spending. Power comes from guns and money. The U.S. controls and pays Iraq's low-morale police and native troops who, in a nation with 70% unemployment, mostly serve to feed families. . . .


"Democracy and Islam"

"Election Rigging in Afghanistan and Iraq," The Wisdom Fund, September 28, 2004

"Iraqis' big issue: US exit plan," The Wisdom Fund, January 23, 2005

[. . . it will establish Shia power in Iraq - and in the wider Arab world - for the first time since the great split between Sunnis and Shias that followed the death of the Prophet Muhammad.--Robert Fisk, "This Election Will Change the World. But Not in the Way the Americans Imagined," Independent, January 29, 2005]

Dahr Jamail, "Some Just Voted for Food," Inter Press Service, January 31, 2005

Robert Fisk, "Iraqis Voting for 'Freedom From Foreign Occupation',", January 31, 2005

[The people of Iraq were not given the opportunity to vote against the occupation - they were allowed to vote for anonymous lists, representing U.S.-approved candidates that will not have the power to alter U.S. plans to colonize Iraq.--"The Election in Iraq," International Action Center, January 31, 2005]

[On September 4 1967 the New York Times published . . . "US encouraged by Vietnam vote: Officials cite 83% turnout despite Vietcong terror" . . . The facts on the ground, including the construction of massive military bases in Iraq, indicate that the US is digging in to install and back a long-term puppet regime.--Sami Ramadani, "The Vietnam turnout was good as well: No amount of spin can conceal Iraqis' hostility to US occupation," Guardian, February 1, 2005]

"Sunni group challenges legitimacy of Iraqi vote,", February 2, 2005

Greg Mitchell, "Officials Back Away from Early Estimates of Iraqi Voter Turnout,", February 2, 2005

[Iraqi Finance Minister Abdel Mahdi . . . is proposing to privatize Iraq's oil and put it into American corporate hands.--Dahr Jamail, "What They're Not Telling You About The 'Election',", February 2, 2005]

[Sunni Arab and anti-occupation groups have insisted on a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal. U.S. and Iraqi officials, including Abdel-Mehdi, have argued against a timetable--Anthony Shadid and Doug Struck, "Top Shiite Welcomes Overtures By Sunnis," Washington Post, February 6, 2005]

[This most recent variant of "democracy promotion" has now been applied in Afghanistan and Iraq, . . . Create a new elite, give it funds and weaponry to build a new army and let them make the country safe for the corporations.--Tariq Ali, "Out with the old, in with the new: The Iraqi elections were designed not to preserve the unity of Iraq but to re-establish the unity of the west," Guardian, February 7, 2005]

[Now it seems that two years of bloodshed, bribery and backroom arm-twisting were leading up to this: a deal in which the ayatollahs get control over the family, Texaco gets the oil, and Washington gets its enduring military bases (call it the "oil for women program"). Everyone wins except the voters, who risked their lives to cast their ballots for a very different set of policies.--Naomi Klein, "Getting the Purple Finger," The Nation, February 28, 2005]

[A turnout of 8.45 million votes - or about 59 percent turnout of 14.2 million eligible voters, according to new figures given Sunday - was low for a transitional election, and reflected wartime conditions and a boycott by many Sunnis.--Dan Murphy, "Shiite Islamists to shape new Iraq," Christian Science Monitor, February 14, 2005]

John Pilger, "The Struggle for Memory in Free Societies," New Statesman, February 18, 2005

[U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%.--Mark Jensen, "SCOTT RITTER SAYS U.S. 'COOKED' JAN. 30 IRAQI ELECTION RESULTS," United for Peace of Pierce County, February 19, 2005]

[Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who would be the first Shia to be in charge of the Iraqi government, confounded his critics by saying that his country could not maintain order without the help of foreign soldiers.--Oliver Poole, "Allies must not leave yet, says Iraq leader," The Telegraph, February 21, 2005]

[For the princely fee of $427 million, RTI implemented a policy they called (and this is not a joke) "selections not elections." They would invite everyone in a particular community to attend a meeting. At the meeting, the company would pick the new government, making sure to reserve a specific number of seats to Iraqis from each of the country's major ethnic and religious groups Sunni Arab, Shia Arab, Turkmen, Kurd, and Assyrian/Chaldean Christian.--Aaron Glantz, "The Only Hope to Avert Civil War,", June 10, 2005]

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