New coalition in occupied Iraq
By Joachim Guilliard
The writer is a leading activist in the German movement of solidarity with the Iraqi resistance.
The long drawn-out vote count in Iraq has finally ended. Many found it surprising that the opposition Al-Iraqiya List won the most seats in parliament. But this was no proof that the vote was fair. It took place once again under the conditions of a brutal occupation regime that carried out expulsions of candidates, mass imprisonments and the murder of political opponents.
Al-Irakia won not because of the repression and manipulation of votes, but despite them. Apparently these repressive steps brought a great part of the enemies of the occupation behind the election alliance that had the best chances outlook for victory.
The Western media like to personalize everything, and so in general they speak of the victory of Ayad Allawi. But above all it was the most nationalist and overwhelmingly secular groups and personalities in the list who were voted in. On his own, the former interim premier and CIA collaborator Allawi would have been hardly more attractive than he was in 2005, when in alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party [which collaborates with the occupation–WW] he was only able to obtain 8.2 percent of the votes.
The practical meaning of the vote outcome is heavily exaggerated. “Iraq stands before a change of power,” were the headlines in Die Welt [a conservative German daily newspaper]. But whoever is the new head of government in the next couple of months, the power still lies in the hands of the occupying power.
Truthfully, Allawi has few chances to pull together a majority. Even if the parties in the present regime don’t come out unscathed, the process will probably lead to a — somewhat broader — new version of the current coalition of Kurdish and Shiite-based parties. The only thing that changed is that the likelihood that Nuri Al-Maliki himself will again become prime minister has sunk.
The only thing positive to come out of this vote is the clear rejection of a policy that bases itself on religious and confessional differences and a clear vote for a unitary, centrally ruled and independent government. Al-Irakia won votes not only in the majority Sunni provinces, but, for example, also in Baghdad, where the great majority belong to the Schiite confession, but are traditionally overwhelmingly laic.
A block of committed enemies of the occupation with the one-time close U.S. ally Allawi, who as interim premier, among other things, was co-responsible for the invasion of Fallujah, might appear unprincipled, as might any participation in an election under the occupation. It also showed, however, that a great many Iraqis are capable in this extreme situation of carrying out difficult compromises. From this point of view the vote success could amount to the political unification of the occupation opponents. Without such a unifying process, the occupation will not be ended.
Joachim Guilliard, a German anti-war activist and writer and key organizer of the German Iraq Coordination, has contributed to books about Iraq and testified in New York in August 2004 in the people’s tribunal — organized by the International Action Center — that found the U.S. guilty of war crimes for its invasion and occupation of Iraq.
From the German daily newspaper, Junge Welt, translated by John Catalinotto