South Asia tags:
Iraq elections: No end to nightmare
'THE FIRST free vote for fifty years.' That's how the media described the Iraqi elections. But how can a vote be 'free' when the whole country is under military occupation by foreign imperialist powers? This so-called free vote involved circumventing barbed wire, road blocks, tanks and armed soldiers, and risking death, in many cases to end up voting for anonymous candidates.
The occupiers and their stooge interim Iraqi government breathed a sigh of relief that Shia Muslims and Kurds turned out in reasonable numbers, using it to continue their propaganda that the elections are a turning point for the better.
Much less was said about the very low turnout amongst the Sunni minority of around three million people, who want to live in a unified Iraq but see only further bloodshed coming out of the elections.
Those in the Shia population who voted also had limited expectations on what will come after. Many said their main aim in voting was to try to get rid of the occupation forces as soon as possible - every leading election candidate had demanded a timetable for US withdrawal as part of their manifesto. Nobody interviewed by The Guardian's correspondents described their vote as being against the insurgency.
That the imperialist occupation is seen as the main problem is no surprise when looking at the nightmare situation it has created. Even a Financial Times editorial on 1 February pointed out: "For the past year Iraq has experienced rampant corruption, without any state building or any effective security forces".
A BBC reporter could not find a single Iraqi who thinks the situation is better now than during the time of the repressive, hated dictator Saddam Hussein.
And now these elections, far from ending the insecurity, poverty and daily bloodshed, are set to worsen it, not least by fuelling further division between the minority and majority populations. The Iraqi people are right in seeing the US imperialist occupiers and their friends internationally as mainly responsible for this.
The troops must come out and the Iraqi people allowed to decide their own future!
- End the occupation. Withdraw the troops!
The spectre of the Vietnam war
IT WAS September 1967, at the height of the Vietnam war. The New York Times carried a very optimistic article on the presidential elections held by the puppet regime in South Vietnam. "US officials were surprised and heartened at the size of the turnout" (83%), they said, "despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting".
The New York Times said that US president Johnson saw a successful election as "the keystone" in his policy of "encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam".
US officials today would not be encouraged by the strange similarities with the long-running war which they lost in Vietnam.