It wasn’t that long ago that PP was discussing Iran. As many have been predicting since The War on Terrorâ„¢ started to go astray, Iran is now frequently uttered in the same breath as Iraq.
The Iraqi election results should be available at the start of January, but already early returns (which represent 95% of the ballots cast) demonstrate what many had hoped against; the big winners are the Shia and Sunni religious parties, including good ol’ Muqtada al-Sadr, who aren’t all that interested in ‘bringing democracy to the Middle East’. At least not the democracy America has promised Iraq and the world.
The Asia Times Online says:
“the Shi’ite religious coalition [and] the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), not only held together, but also can be expected to dominate the new 275-member National Assembly for the next four years.
More importantly, the “secular” candidates who were believed to enjoy links with the US security agencies would seem to have been routed. Former premier Iyad Allawi’s prospects of leading the new government seem virtually nil. And Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Accord suffered a shattering defeat.” [Link]
There is a reason why Chalabi and Allawi didn’t fare well. They have grown unpopular in Iraq due to both possessing an incessant and poorly-disguised desire to become Iraq’s ‘father’. To lead this shiny new country from its inception. Or then again, maybe the main reason is simply because both have enjoyed such close ties with the US, who you might have realised aren’t too popular in Iraq. Whether either would have delivered a fair democracy, a secular state and peace is open to speculation. But secularity isn’t high on the agenda of the eventual winners.
Indeed, secular groups have protested that the elections were rigged and have demanded a new vote. They were joined by members of the Sunni minority, when it became clear that despite hopes that a high Sunni turnout would negate a vast majority for the Shiites, the Sunnis were headed for a heavier-than-expected defeat. The Iraqi Accord Front threatened to block the formation of a new government unless the result changed.
Old Pauline (hooray!) and former student rag editor (hooray!) John Simpson has a great breakdown of some Iraqi Election FAQs. Do take a look, the pros and cons of the election are very fairly presented, with less anti-Bush rhetoric than I’m likely to churn out.
“The only successful wars which the First World has fought in the Third World have been short and decisive, like the Falklands campaign and the first Gulf War. Once public opinion turns decisively against a war, it never seems to turn back.
The Iraqi election was a big success for the Iraqi people. Whether it will be a success for President Bush is a great deal less certain.” [Link]
So what was the title of this post all about? It’s about the neocon’s wet dream of an American Arab ally in the Middle East never materialising. Bush’s high hopes have been replaced by a country that may well follow in the footsteps of Axis-of-Evil-Iran. Iran is now able to wield far greater power over oil throughout the region. Lebanese pundit Rami Khouri recently said
“Starting the American military retreat from Iraq is important because American troops will continue to be a divisive and destabilizing force, just as the American military presence in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 war was a major provocation leading to Osama bin Laden-type resistance and terror.”
Everyone agrees, the American soldiers have to leave soon. More good news for Iran. Hamas doing well in Palestinian elections, excellent stuff! Especially when the leader of Hamas promised help if Israel attacks Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood surprising all in Egypt’s elections, oh goody!
“Unfortunately, it is hardly an advertisement for our democratic way of life that the American people were so easily deceived as to the reasons for this war. Or that our president resists the condemnation of torture, renders captured prisoners to be interrogated in the savage prisons of Uzbekistan and Syria, and claims an unrestrained right to spy on U.S. citizens.
Nor does it help that this president is so publicly bent on intruding government-imposed religious values into American civil life, while urging secular tolerance upon the Islamic world. Or that he remains so blind to the reality of life in that world that he still does not grasp that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were on opposite sides of the enormous struggle over the primacy of religion in the Arab world. Iraq, for all of its massive deficiencies, was not a center of religious fanaticism before the U.S. invasion, and the Islamic fanatics that are the president’s sworn enemy in the so-called “war on terror” did not have a foothold in the country. Now, primitive religious fundamentalism forms the dominant political culture in Iraq and the best outcome for U.S. policy is the hope that Shiite and Sunni fanatics can check each other long enough for the United States to beat a credible retreat and call it a victory, albeit a pyrrhic one.” [Link]
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Filed in: Current affairs,Religion,The World