April 5, 2005
The Independent

America is Usurping the Democratic Will in Iraq

by Michael Meacher

It's two months now since the elections in Iraq, and still no government is formed. . . .

The scene is now set for a prolonged power struggle between the US and the Shia majority. Having been deprived for more than 500 years of the opportunity to govern Iraq, the Shias, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, are clearly now determined to exert their influence.

In the face of this risk of a clerical-backed alliance of Shia Islamists in collaboration with Iran, the US has not been idle. Time magazine (27 September 2004) reported before the elections on a covert CIA operation to aid candidates favoured by Washington. It reported US officials as saying that the idea was to help such candidates, but "not necessarily" to go so far as to rig the elections. In the event, the United Iraqi Alliance of mainly Shia Islamist parties won only 48 per cent of the total vote, well below their share of the population. Interestingly, Reuters (13 February) reported a few hours before the election results were officially announced that "the United Iraqi Alliance said today it had been told by Iraq's Electoral Commission that it had won around 60 per cent of the vote in the country's election". This was later confirmed by the former US chief Unscom weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter, who announced to a packed meeting in Washington state on 19 February that the United Iraqi Alliance actually gained 56 per cent of the vote, and that "an official involved in the manipulation was the source".

The significance of this voting manoeuvre is revealed in a Washington Post report (14 February): "A senior State Department official said yesterday that the 48 per cent vote won by the Shia slate deprives it of an outright majority. 'If it had been higher, the slate would be seen with a lot more trepidation'."

A second US device to thwart a Shia ascendancy was adopted by the former US proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer, a year ago. His Transitional Administrative Law in effect gave the Kurds a veto over the new constitution. . . .

Yet the US has a third ploy ready. There is already evidence of a strong movement in southern Iraq to establish autonomous Shia provinces as a precursor to introducing clerical rule in the whole country.

To forestall a clerical-driven religious regime, Washington has a plan in reserve, according to Asia Times (15 February), to arm small militias backed by US troops. The report states that "in a highly clandestine operation, the US has procured Pakistan-manufactured weapons, and consignments have been loaded in bulk on to US military cargo aircraft at Chaklala airbase in the past few weeks". The same report says that these US supported militias would comprise former members of the Baath party, which has already split into three factions, and would receive assistance from the interim prime minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord. . . .


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Naomi Klein, "Iraq is Not America's to Sell," Guardian, November 7, 2003

Robert Fisk, "How We Denied Democracy to the Middle East," Independent, November 8, 2003

Eric Margolis, "Real Freedom Still Far Off," Toronto Sun, January 30, 2005

Edward Wong, "Major Parties in Iraq Agree on President and 2 Vice Presidents," New York Times, April 5, 2005

Robert F. Worth, "Shiite Leader Named Iraq Premier to End 2 Months of Wrangling," New York Times, April 8, 2005

Caryle Murphy, "Two Clerics Call for Protests in Baghdad: Sunni, Shiite Decry 2-Year U.S. Presence," Washington Post, April 9, 2005

Rory Carroll, "Fire and rage in the shadow of Abu Ghraib: Behind an attack on Iraq's infamous jail lies a simple, insistent demand: occupiers go home ," The Observer, April 10, 2005

Jonathan Steele, "Don't be fooled by the spin on Iraq: The US is failing - and hatred of the occupation greater than ever," Guardian, April 13, 2005

David Rissitano, "The War in Iraq is Infecting Every Aspect of American Society," CounterPunch, April 15, 2005

Haroon Siddiqui, "U.S. propaganda machine beating democracy drum," Toronto Star, April 17, 2005

Patrick Cockburn, "After three months of wrangling, Iraq's new government finally takes shape," Independent, April 29, 2005

James Hider, "A civil war in all but name as Sunni and Shia fight to the death," Times, April 30, 2005

Dahr Jamail, "U.S. Influence 'Too Much'," Inter Press Service, September 5, 2005

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