From the beginning, the Bush administration opposed one-person, one-vote elections in Iraq. They picked up a stooge and appointed him as ‘prime minister’ in place of democracy. The Bush administration ‘stifled, delayed, manipulated and otherwise thwarted the democratic aspiration of the Iraqi people,’ writes Canadian journalist and author, Naomi Klein. It was Washington who replaced the process of democracy with violence. The elections were forced on the Americans on 4 January 2004 when Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani laid down an ultimatum and Iraqis protested in their thousands and demanded an election. The Bush administration capitulated and agreed to elections.
The only legitimate elections under foreign occupation must be in the form of a referendum on whether or not to end the US occupation. The Iraqi people have been denied this important choice. Instead, they were treated to the charade of fake democracy. ‘That democracy has been denied in Iraq is beyond question,’ writes John Nichols of The Nation. The Occupation will continue, ‘as democracy takes hold in Iraq, America’s mission there will continue’, as part of controlling the oil reserves and establishing military bases against the wishes of the Iraqi people who rejected the elections and stayed indoors.
It was hardly the election day people are used to. It was a day of war, similar to the first day of that illegal US war of aggression. Iraqis cuddled their children and stayed home praying for food, water and electricity. Unless paid by Allawi’s gang and loaded on trucks with Iraqi flags chanting ‘patriotic’ songs. How can you vote if you do not know the candidate? The veteran journalist, Robert Fisk, of The Independent writes, ‘Many Iraqis do not know the names of the candidates, let alone their policies, [because it was secret]. But there will be democracy in Iraq,’ the democracy of enslavement to US imperialism.
Are there any doubts that the US-created stooge, Iyad Allawi, will not continue his current position of Occupation spokesman? According to the Washington Post, January 30 2005, Allawi’s gang threatened Iraqis and spread false rumours that if they did not vote (for Allawi) they would not get their monthly food rations, the miracle of Saddam, which is keeping the Iraqi people from starvation. Mr. Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, a retired Iraqi engineer told Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow.org (see article here) ‘The occupying power has modified the basic rules in Iraq as to who is an Iraqi and who is not. The election was shoved down our throat because all the major parties, including Allawi’s party, requested that the election be postponed,’ but the US refused. ‘The shocking thing is that the conditions after twenty two months of occupation is a lot worse in every single aspect of life than with Saddam Hussein, after twelve years of sanction.’
Contrary to western media, the elections were a sham and most Iraqis boycotted them. Iraqis have been intimidated to vote in these elections. For instant, the voting in Baghdad was linked with receipt of food rations, several voters told Dahr Jamail of The NewStandard after the Sunday poll (www.dahrjamailiraq.com). On the day of voting, people had two choices, lose your card (Saddam’s old food-distribution cards) and starve, or go out and vote in these fraudulent elections. About three million Iraqis were forced to venture out of their homes to vote in the midst of violence. It is this violence that will keep Allawi and his masters in their positions. The Sunnis have boycotted the elections. Some of the Shiites have boycotted the elections. Muqtada Al-Sadr people boycotted the elections. ‘It was hard to describe the vote as legitimate, when whole portions of the country can’t vote and doesn’t vote,’ Democrat Senator John Kerry warned.
Heavily fortified polling centres were deserted and streets empty as Iraqis stayed home on Sunday, too frightened or angry to vote in these elections. Over 40 per cent of the Iraqi population lives in the four provinces that boycotted the US-crafted elections and rejected the Occupation. Furthermore, according to Al-Jazeera News, ‘voter turnout in Baghdad was poor, especially in the al-Yarmuk, al-Amiriya, and al-Adhamiya districts – the main population centres in central and western Baghdad.’ It was the same in Samarra, a city of 200 000 people.
The Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM) revealed that of the four million Iraqis living outside Iraq, only 280 303 people registered to vote. Imagine what the numbers are like inside Iraq. In a word, the elections were illegitimate and do not represent the Iraqi people. People of the West, and particularly the American people, should be ashamed of this travesty of democracy imposed on other people in their name.
Staged elections are not new. They are ‘demonstration elections’ and have been around for a long period of time. From Vietnam in the 1960s to the recent Afghanistan elections. ‘The purpose of these elections – crafted by the US – was to persuade US citizens and especially Congress that we were invading these countries and supporting a savage war against government opponents at the invitation of a legitimate, freely elected government. The main purpose of a demonstration election is to legitimise an invasion and occupation, not to choose a new government,’ wrote Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead.
For the Americans, ‘what happens before or after the elections concerns them not one iota. What matters is that the elections become a good PR exercise for the Bush administration,’ Wamid Nadhim of Baghdad University told Al-Ahram Weekly 9 Furthermore, these elections are also seen as an excuse for Tony Blair and other ‘coalition of the willing’ leaders to justify their support for Washington’s illegal war of aggression and occupation. Iraq’s problem is not an internal dispute, it is the US Occupation.
Like the war, these staged elections are illegal and against Iraq’s interests. People in the ‘civilised’ world should reject these elections, demand the immediate withdraw of US forces from Iraq and the liberation of the Iraqi people. There is an Iraqi Resistance to the occupation in Iraq and it should be supported.
These are truly ‘historic elections’ for the US dream of ‘spreading democracy’. If George Bush is smart enough, he can use these ‘historic elections’, as an ‘exit strategy’, and withdraw his army from Iraq. The Iraqi people will remember the elections that guaranteed them freedom and liberty from foreign occupation.
Donate To New Matilda
New Matilda is a small, independent media outlet. We survive through reader contributions, and never losing a lawsuit. If you got something from this article, giving something back helps us to continue speaking truth to power. Every little bit counts.