l-Maliki loses election, represses opponents
Contradicting all claims of having held a “fair election” in Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is using the repressive state apparatus constructed under the U.S. occupation regime to attempt to hold onto power by force. Al-Maliki has targeted four elected representatives of the victorious Al-Iraqiyya list in an attempt to downgrade this party to second place.
Two of the representatives are in hiding. One is in prison. The fourth, a woman, has disappeared from sight, according to a March 28 investigative article in the McClatchy newspapers.
Al-Maliki has said he won’t accept the vote count from the January election. These results were finally made public in late March. Al-Iraqiyya, whose leader is Ayad Allawi, won the most seats, 91, but not a majority of the 325-seat parliament. The “State of Law Coalition,” led by al-Maliki, won 89 seats. The National Iraqi Alliance came in third with 70 seats.
During the election campaign, the regime banned 499 candidates for allegedly being linked to the Ba’ath Party, which was the ruling party before the U.S. invasion. All the banned candidates were from secular parties not connected with one or another religious sect.
No one should forget that there are still nearly 100,000 U.S. troops occupying Iraq — and almost the same number of mercenaries, called contractors. The seven-year-long U.S. occupation has led to the death of an estimated 1 million Iraqis and the dislocation of another 5 million, about one-fifth of the country. The occupation has also fomented bitter sectarian fighting among Iraqis.
Workers World consulted on the election with Joachim Guilliard, a German anti-war activist, writer and key organizer of the German Iraq Coordination. Guilliard has contributed to two books about Iraq. He testified in New York at the August 2004 people’s tribunal organized by the International Action Center, which found the U.S. guilty of war crimes for its invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In Guilliard’s opinion: “Many found it surprising that the opposition Al-Iraqiyya List won the most seats in parliament. But this was no proof that the vote was fair. It took place once again under the conditions of a brutal occupation regime that carried out expulsions of candidates, mass imprisonments and the murder of political opponents.
“Al-Iraqiyya won not because of the repression and manipulation of votes, but despite them. Apparently these repressive steps brought a large sector of the enemies of the occupation behind this electoral alliance that had the best outlook for victory” over the current occupation regime.
Explaining the election results, Guilliard wrote: “The Western media like to personalize everything, and so in general they speak of the victory of Ayad Allawi. But above all it was the most nationalist and overwhelmingly secular groups and personalities in the list who were voted in.”
Guilliard pointed out that Allawi was once a close U.S. ally and co-responsible for the bloody invasion of the city of Fallujah, but that many Iraqis who oppose the occupation appeared to get behind al-Iraqiyya anyway in order to work toward removing the U.S. troops.
“On his own, the former interim premier and CIA collaborator Allawi would have been hardly more attractive than he was in 2005, when in alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party [which collaborates with the occupation — WW] he was only able to obtain 8.2 percent of the votes,” Guilliard added.
The most progressive thing the vote represents, wrote Guilliard in his article in the March 29 issue of Junge Welt, a progressive German daily, is “the clear rejection of a policy that bases itself on religious and confessional differences and a clear vote for a unitary, centrally ruled and independent government. Al-Iraqiyya won votes not only in the majority Sunni provinces, but, for example, also in Baghdad, where the great majority belong to the Shiite confession, but are traditionally overwhelmingly non-religious in their politics.”
Guilliard emphasized that “whoever is the new head of government in the next couple of months, the power still lies in the hands of the occupying forces.”