The Antiwar Movement and the Iraqi Elections
International Action Center
1) Election Under Occupation
The media theater called the Iraqi election is under way. U.S. television anchor people are broadcasting live from Baghdad, breathlessly describing the preparations for Sunday's display of so-called democracy.
It is important to emphasize the circumstances under which this election is being held. More than 150,000 U.S. troops occupy the country, patrolling the streets with guns trained on Iraqi civilians. Iraq is under a state of emergency, with expanded police powers and a curfew.
This is and election at gunpoint, which will be supervised by U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte. Negroponte built an impressive resume as a brutal enforcer of U.S. policy through murder, rape, and torture. Negroponte served as U.S. Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985; a period during which Honduras was the launching pad from which the Reagan administration conducted its violent attacks on the people of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The U.S-backed atrocities, which were condemned by the International World Court in the Hague, included kidnappings, rape, torture and killing of suspected dissidents. Reports from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Honduras alleged that Negroponte oversaw the expansion of U.S training camp and military base on Honduran territory, where the U.S. trained Contra terrorists, and where the military secretly detained, tortured and executed Honduran suspected dissidents.
This is the person the Bush Administration would have us believe is going to bring democracy to Iraq.
Assisting him will be two US-funded organizations with long records of manipulating overseas elections on behalf of U.S. corporate interests, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). These groups, both of which are tied to covert plans to install US-favored regimes overseas, are among organizations that have been given more than $80 million for political activities in Iraq.
Both organizations work closely with the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development, long used by the CIA for covert operations abroad. They were, for example, involved in orchestrating the failed coup and recall referendum in Venezuela in an attempt to remove the democratically elected and popular President Hugo Chavez.
This election is being conducted at gunpoint, administered by a war criminal, and stage-managed by CIA front companies. To pretend that this has anything to do with democracy is outrageous. The Iraqi people recognize this --among expatriates, 90 percent haven't even bothered to register to vote on Sunday.
What, then is the purpose of the phony election? It is actually directed at the U.S. public, which is growing increasingly disillusioned with the war. The sole intent of the election is to provide legitimacy for the occupation, to marginalize the resistance movement, and create an illusion of progress. The election, like the phony transfer of power, will change nothing on the ground in Iraq. On January 31, the day after the election, more than 150,000 U.S. troops will still occupy Iraq, the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib will still be full of Iraqi prisoners, and CIA employee Iyad Allawi will still be the U.S.-appointed dictator.
2) The Iraqi People Have Already Voted -- Against the Occupation
The Iraqi people have already expressed their will; they are overwhelmingly opposed to the occupation of their country. The majority of Iraqi people want the U.S. troops to leave and do not believe that the U.S. and Britain should be involved in holding elections in Iraq, according to several polls.
Many have already cast their ballot against colonial occupation by joining the nationwide uprising. The intelligence chief for the puppet regime in Iraq, General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani, admitted that the resistance now numbers more than 200,000.
The resistance is made up of many difference forces, with different ideologies and goals. They are united by the determination to free their country from U.S. occupation.
The right of people to resist occupation by arms is a basic right recognized under international law and the Geneva Convention. The people of Iraq have a right to fight back against the occupation of their country, the torture of their people, and the bombing of their cities. They also have a right to expect the solidarity of all who oppose the criminal war. It is not the role of the antiwar movement to debate the ideology or tactics of the resistance; it is our job to stand in solidarity with them and do everything possible to assist them by working to end the occupation of their country.
3) What Next for the Antiwar Movement?
The phony elections will not silence the Iraqi resistance. It is important to remember that in the months since the last time the U.S. attempted to put an "Iraqi face" on the occupation, with the phony transfer of power and appointment of Iyad Allawi as puppet dictator, the resistance has spread and become more sophisticated and more entrenched.
As the resistance grows, we in the U.S. have an obligation not to be deterred by false elections or talk of "timetables." We must stand with the people of Iraq and take up their demand: the immediate, unconditional, and complete withdrawal of all U.S. occupation forces.
We must organize a united struggle to end the occupation. This is now more important than ever before. George W. Bush made it clear in his inauguration sermon that he intends to wage continual, global war. We must meet his call to war with renewed determination and unity.
The global antiwar movement has called for massive protests on the weekend of March 19-20. In the U.S., the Troops Out Now Coalition is organizing local and regional demonstrations to demand an end to the occupation, including a massive regional convergence on Central Park on March 19. The International Action Center, part of the Troops Out Now Coalition, calls upon all progressive and antiwar organizations to join us in the streets on March 19 & 20 to demand: "Troops Out Now!"
Troops Out Now!
March on Central Park in NYC!
Regional Demonstrations Across the U.S. & Worldwide
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