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Iraq - mobilise to withdraw the troops
THEY ARE counting the votes in Iraq but the body count is still rising. As we go to press, early results of the partial Iraqi election are beginning to come in. But the death toll mounts as resistance to the US-led occupation continues.
It is clear that the elections will solve nothing for the Iraqi people. How can real elections take under the guns of a foreign occupying force? So long as the US occupation forces remain in Iraq then there can be no peace and the ethnic divisions in Iraqi society will widen even further.
The majority of Sunni Iraqis, 20% of the population, did not vote in the elections in protests at the occupation and in fear of the violence. And the crowing of Bush and Blair appears hollow now that the early election results show that the vast majority of the Iraqi Shia population voted against the US occupation and its puppet government, led by Allawi.
Despite millions of dollars of support by his US backers, Allawi's bloc looks like coming a poor third in the election. Even though many Iraqis in the Shia-dominated South have deep misgivings about a religiously dominated government, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) backed by Ayatollah Sistani will be the biggest grouping in the National Assembly.
This is because Shiite voters believed that voting for the UIA was the best way to get rid of the US occupation.
Shiite clerics may stop short of enshrining Sharia law directly into the constitution but they will demand a dominant position in the new constitution that will threaten to divide Iraq even further between Shias, Sunnis and Kurds and threaten a bloody sectarian conflict.
The only way to avoid a descent into further sectarian division would be to build a mass movement of the working class and oppressed masses, cutting across all ethnic divisions, that can lead a force capable of ending the occupation of Iraq.
Then it would be possible to call for the convening of a constituent assembly of democratically-elected delegates to prepare a workers' and poor farmers' government, leading to a socialist confederation of Iraq with national and minority rights.
The Bush regime cannot extricate itself from the quagmire that it has sunk into in Iraq. The Sunni insurgency against its invasion is growing according to CIA reports and if there are no immediate positive results from the National Assembly the CIA expects it to spread to Shiite areas.
Blair, following the US lead, will not withdraw British troops unless forced by a mass movement in Britain against the occupation. According to opinion polls over 60% in Britain are opposed to the occupation and this opposition must be mobilised.
The 19 March demonstration called by the Stop The War Coalition can be a step towards bringing the troops home.
In The Socialist 12 February 2005: