- The day of blood and elections has passed, and the blaring
trumpets of corporate media hailing it as a successful show of "democracy"
have subsided to a dull roar.
- After a day which left 50 people dead in Iraq, both civilians
and soldiers, the death toll was hailed as a figure that was "lower
than expected." Thusacceptable, by Bush Administration/corporate media
standards. After all, only of them was an American, the rest were Iraqis
civilians and British soldiers.
- The gamble of using the polling day in Iraq to justify
the ongoing failed occupation of Iraq has apparently paid off, if you watch
only mainstream media.
- "Higher than expected turnout," US mainstream
television media blared, some citing a figure of 72%, others 60%.
- What they didn't tell you was that this figure was provided
by Farid Ayar, the spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission for
Iraq (IECI) before the polls had even closed.
- When asked about the accuracy of the estimate of voter
turnout during a press conference, Ayar backtracked on his earlier figure,
saying that a closer estimate was lower than his initial estimate and would
be more like 60% of registered voters.
- The IECI spokesman said his previous figure of 72% was
"only guessing" and "was just an estimate," which was
based on "very rough, word-of mouth estimates gathered informally
from the field. It will take some time for the IECI to issue accurate figures
- Referencing both figures, Ayar then added, "Percentages
and numbers come only after counting and will be announced when it's over
... It's too soon to say that those were the official numbers."
- But this isn't the most important misrepresentation the
mainstream media committed.
- What they also didn't tell you was that of those who
voted, whether they be 35% or even 60% of registered voters, were not voting
in support of an ongoing US occupation of their country.
- In fact, they were voting for precisely the opposite
reason. Every Iraqi I have spoken with who voted explained that they believe
the National Assembly which will be formed soon will signal an end to the
- And they expect the call for a withdrawing of foreign
forces in their country to come sooner rather than later.
- This causes one to view the footage of cheering, jubilant
Iraqis in a different light now, doesn't it?
- But then, most folks in the US watching CNN, FOX, or
any of the major networks won't see it that way. Instead, they will hear
what Mr. Bush said, "The world is hearing the voice of freedom from
the center of the Middle East," and take it as fact because most of
the major media outlets aren't scratching beneath film clips of joyous
Iraqi voters over here in the land of daily chaos and violence, no jobs,
no electricity, little running water and no gasoline (for the Iraqis anyhow).
- And Bush is portrayed by the media as the bringer of
democracy to Iraq by the simple fact that this so-called election took
place, botched as it may have been. Appearances suggest that the majority
Shia in Iraq now finally get their proportional representation in a "government."
Looks good on paper.
- But as you continue reading, the seemingly altruistic
reasons for this election as portrayed by the Bush Administration and trumpeted
by most mainstream media are anything but.
- And Iraqis who voted are hearing other trumpets that
are blaring an end to the occupation.
- Now the question remains, what happens when the National
Assembly is formed and over 100,000 US soldiers remain on the ground in
Iraq with the Bush Administration continuing in its refusal to provide
a timetable for their removal?
- What happens when Iraqis see that while there are already
four permanent US military bases in their country, rather than beginning
to disassemble them, more bases are being constructed, as they are, by
Cheney's old company Halliburton, right now?
- Antonia Juhasz, a /Foreign Policy in Focus/ scholar,
authored a piece just before the "election" that sheds light
on a topic that has lost attention amidst the recent fanfare concerning
the polls in Iraq.
- I think it's worth including much of her story here,
as it fits well with today's topic of things most folks aren't being told
by the bringers of democracy to the heart of the Middle East.
- On Dec. 22, 2004, Iraqi Finance Minister Abdel Mahdi
told a handful of reporters and industry insiders at the National Press
Club in Washington, D.C. that Iraq wants to issue a new oil law that would
open Iraq's national oil company to private foreign investment. As Mahdi
explained: "So I think this is very promising to the American investors
and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies."
- In other words, Mahdi is proposing to privatize Iraq's
oil and put it into American corporate hands.
- According to the finance minister, foreigners would gain
access both to "downstream" and "maybe even upstream"
oil investment. This means foreigners can sell Iraqi oil and own it under
the ground - the very thing for which many argue the U.S. went to war in
the first place.
- As Vice President Dick Cheney's Defense Policy Guidance
report explained back in 1992, "Our overall objective is to remain
the predominant outside power in the [Middle East] region and preserve
U.S. and Western access to the region's oil."
- While few in the American media other than Emad Mckay
of Inter Press Service reported on - or even attended - Mahdi's press conference,
the announcement was made with U.S. Undersecretary of State Alan Larson
at Mahdi's side. It was intended to send a message - but to whom?
- It turns out that Abdel Mahdi is running in the Jan.
30 elections on the ticket of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution
(SCIR), the leading Shiite political party. While announcing the selling-off
of the resource which provides 95 percent of all Iraqi revenue may not
garner Mahdi many Iraqi votes, but it will unquestionably win him tremendous
support from the U.S. government and U.S. corporations.
- Mahdi's SCIR is far and away the front-runner in the
upcoming elections, particularly as it becomes increasingly less possible
for Sunnis to vote because the regions where they live are spiraling into
deadly chaos. If Bush were to suggest to Iraq's Interim Prime Minister
Iyad Allawi that elections should be called off, Mahdi and the SCIR's ultimate
chances of victory will likely decline./
- I'll add that the list of political parties Mahdi's SCIR
belongs to, The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), includes the Iraqi National
Council, which is led by an old friend of the Bush Administration who provided
the faulty information they needed to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq,
none other than Ahmed Chalabi.
- It should also be noted that interim Prime Minister Iyad
Allawi also fed the Bush Administration cooked information used to justify
the invasion, but he heads a different Shia list which will most likely
be getting nearly as many votes as the UIA list.
- And The UIA has the blessing of Iranian born revered
Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Sistani issued a fatwa which
instructed his huge number of followers to vote in the election, or they
would risk going to hell.
- Thus, one might argue that the Bush administration has
made a deal with the SCIR: Iraq's oil for guaranteed political power. The
Americans are able to put forward such a bargain because Bush still holds
the strings in Iraq.
- Regardless of what happens in the elections, for at least
the next year during which the newly elected National Assembly writes a
constitution and Iraqis vote for a new government, the Bush administration
is going to control the largest pot of money available in Iraq (the $24
billion in U.S. taxpayer money allocated for the reconstruction), the largest
military and the rules governing Iraq's economy. Both the money and the
rules will, in turn, be overseen by U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector
generals who sit in every Iraqi ministry with five-year terms and sweeping
authority over contracts and regulations. However, the one thing which
the administration has not been unable to confer upon itself is guaranteed
access to Iraqi oil - that is, until now.
- And there is so much more they are not telling you. Just
like the Iraqis who voted, believing they did so to bring an end to the
occupation of their country.
- More writing, photos and commentary at http://dahrjamailiraq.com
- (c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
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