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
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. . . .
Enver Masud, "New Constitution a Pretext
for Exploiting Iraq," The Wisdom Fund, September 16, 2003
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,
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
Dahr Jamail, "U.S.
Influence 'Too Much'," Inter Press Service, September 5, 2005