GEORGE BUSH and Tony Blair claim the elections in Iraq will usher in the rule of democracy. But we know who will run Iraq even before the results come through—the US is determined to keep control in Iraq.
The elections will make no difference to US control of Iraqi oil, nor to the Pentagon’s plans to maintain up to 14 permanent military bases in Iraq.
They will make no difference to the stranglehold that US multinationals have on Iraq’s economy, hurriedly privatised by the Bush regime. The US has tied Iraq into neo-liberal policies and international trade treaties, signed by Paul Bremer, the first US-imposed ruler of Iraq. None of this has anything to do with democracy or the wishes of the Iraqi people. But the foregone conclusion is not the only flaw in these elections.
The vote is not even for a real government, but for a transitional assembly that will draw up a constitution, according to an outline already set by the occupation authorities.
The poll, conducted under conditions of occupation and martial law, cannot be free and fair. Meetings are banned and many candidates have not even been named. The occupation-installed government of Iyad Allawi has imposed a crackdown on the media.
Fallujah has been flattened while other towns are still under attack by occupation forces. Elsewhere, people are struggling just to survive, never mind vote. Supplies of electricity, fuel and even water are precarious.
Many Iraqis will boycott the elections because they are being held under the occupation.
But it is important to remember that many of those voting, such as the supporters of Shia cleric Ali Sistani, will do so precisely because they want an end to the occupation too. Whatever the outcome of the elections, Iraqis can only control their own country if the occupation ends and the US is driven out lock, stock and barrel.