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Iraq: a rigged election under occupation does not equal democracy

No wonder Bush and Blair believe in God! As their imperialist venture into Iraq descends further into chaos, blood and madness, the criminal folly of this illegal and ruthless occupation was pushed off the pages of our newspapers and from our TV screens by an ‘act of God’: the Tsunami.

The paltry aid from the UK and American governments to help the tsunami victims and to rebuild the devastated countries must be contextualised by the billions, possibly trillions, of dollars spent on bringing democracy, Bush-style, to the beleaguered Iraqi people.

Whatever happened to WMD?

Yet, it will take more than the tsunami to make Iraq stay away for long. This bloody and unprovoked war will haunt the West for years to come. It is two years since the occupation forces invaded to bring democracy to Iraq. Or was it to find and neutralise the fearful threat of those weapons of mass destruction that we were told could attack western targets in forty five minutes? No weapons there - it’s official at last. So the reason for going to war has changed from allegedly being about defence to a war of liberation.

It seems as if history is being changed even as we are experiencing it. It is reminiscent of a section from Orwell’s Animal Farm. The government expect us to fall for their sophistry and believe, in a sheep like manner, whatever new lie is spun to us!

The Iraqi people face an even more difficult time than they did under the boot of the brutal regime of the Baathists and Saddam Hussein.

Many parts of the country still have no electricity or running water. The Iraqi security forces are torturing detainees as a matter of course and the occupation soldiers, both American and British, have also built up a reputation for torture and murder which has sickened even the most gung ho of Blair’s toadies.

Daily, the fight against occupation continues with the West now estimating that there are around 250,000 insurgents taking part. Are all of them foreign fighters or Saddam loyalists? Valiantly the British media try to peddle this myth that the uprising consists of only a few psychopathic maniacs and outsiders. They claim the majority of Iraqis are happy that the occupation forces are there to protect them. One wonders if it is just lies or complete self delusion in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable.

Puppet government

The provisional Iraqi government has no more authority or credibility than if Paul Bremer had stayed in control. It is perceived as a puppet government working in collaboration with the country’s occupiers which can do nothing to stem the daily death count of Iraqis caught up in this conflict.

Yet amidst the horrors of a country torn apart there was insistence by the West that the elections went ahead no matter what. This was despite the withdrawal from the election process of the Sunni parties, particularly after the destruction of Falluja. It is clearly an impossible situation for the occupation forces to police and the outcome could not possibly bring either peace or stability to the people.

Only an estimated quarter of those eligible to vote having registered - not surprising, since neither the occupation nor Iraqi authorities make any attempt to record the tens of thousands killed. With the unambiguous threats of death to those who went to the polls, the new assembly could not possibly claim to be in any way representative.

It is as though the occupiers simply did not know what else to do. The election was necessary to keep up the façade of democracy and the pretence that the invasion has made life better for the ordinary people. ‘The masses may be living in terror and squalor but at least they can vote!’

It is bourgeois democracy at its worst and we can only feel sorry for those in Iraq who really believe that it will somehow mean they are free. The boot of Saddam has been replaced by the boot of western imperialism. They may look different but the effects are just as devastating and brutal.

War crimes

The people of Falluja faced the wrath of the occupation and the body count there remains a mystery. This is a war cime every bit as horrific as Saddam Hussein’s gassing of Halabja in his US/UK-backed war on Iran. Today there is no sense of winning the hearts and minds of the people there nor indeed consideration for the other civilians who make up the collateral damage.

It may be some time before the projection of 100,000 deaths, estimated in that well known ‘left wing’ journal The Lancet, is verified but none of us doubt the possibility of this being the case.

Meanwhile the election campaign continued as does the bloodbath. Despite 120 parties contesting the elections some were still banned, 1 million exiled Iraqis voted. Substantial pockets unable to vote due to the ongoing violence and the newly elected assembly retreats into the highly protected green zone to work out the new constitution.

And the US and UK governments can claim democracy delivered by the great western liberators.

The outcome will inevitably lead to a Shia dominated assembly with both the Shia and the Kurds keen to participate in the process. Iyad Allawi, former CIA agent, looks set to continue to play an important role in legitimising the occupation and allowing the occupation forces to construct the illusion of the democratic transfer of power to the Iraqi people. The many who braved the very real threat of violence to cast their votes for people they may never have heard of, uncritically trusted their leaders. A tactic which suits bourgeois politicians across the planet but has nothing to do with genuine democracy. After the elections, the US is still in charge and the insurgency against the occupation continues to grow.

The future for Iraq, while western imperialist forces rule the roost, can only lead to further misery and conflict. Troops out now must be our demand. The resistance is mixed, with Islamicist, tribal, Baathist, nationalist and secular forces. We have to build our own links with the progressive forces within the Iraqi resistance. They will inevitably have to fight to produce the kind of society which can deliver people from oppression.

Our war too is at home. One positive development has been the growth of opposition to the occupation within the ranks of the British army. The campaign initiated by Rose Gentle and strongly backed by the SSP has rattled the leaders of the Crown forces. However, we must be aware that the British ruling class is at its most vicious when cracks appear within its core defences. The SNP’s emphasis on saving Scottish regiments, which have loyally served British interests around the world, contrasts with the SSP’s emphasis on saving the many ‘economic conscripts’ from Scotland’s housing schemes. For Blair’s government holds both working class school-leavers with few prospects and the Iraqi people in the same contempt.

We cannot let this government off the hook for one moment. We must hold them to account and show the blood that is on their hands. The G8 at Gleneagles? Bush and Blair here in Scotland! Let us take the fight to them. It is our duty to make sure they know they are not welcome here!

Mary Ward