By Mahmood Ketabchi
The contention between the US government and the Islamists in Iraq over the formation of a future Iraqi government has given the western bourgeoisie and liberal media the opportunity to tell world that Iraq is at a fateful crossroads of freedom or despotism. We are further told by some media outlets that the US government wants to build Iraq on a "western secular democratic model," while Western liberal anti-occupation reporters show a great infatuation with what they refer to as Sistani's call for a "popular democratic election."
Are we to believe that Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, advocates despotism and Sistani wants freedom or vice versa? This depiction of the situation in Iraq is sheer nonsense and a travesty of reality. The Islamists' call for election has nothing to do with the rights of the Iraqi people to form their own government in a safe and free environment. Nor does Paul Bremer's plan to hold caucuses instead of an election derive from his desire to build a free secular society in Iraq. The conflict between the US government and the Islamists in Iraq is a power struggle between two poles of reaction that have in fact worked together hand in hand and brought Iraqi society to the verge of complete destruction and a dreadful and grim scenario of religious war and ethnic cleansing.
What one cannot see in the media coverage is the lack of debate about how the US and Islamists differ from one another in what they are offering for the future of Iraq. The superficial arguments around the issue of elections or caucuses say very little about the US government's and Islamists' plans for Iraq. The fact of the matter is that with or without an election, both the US government and the Islamists are not far apart from each other on the nature of the government they are seeking. The reactionary Islamist pole wants a religious autocracy. The US government will go along with this as long as such government maintains a friendly relationship with the US and other western powers and looks after their political and economic interests. At the present, the US government has no one to rely on but the most violent and reactionary sections of Iraqi bourgeois -- Islamists, tribal lords, ethnocentric forces, and people such as Ahmed Chalabi who have been on the CIA payroll for years.
For more than two decades, the US government promoted Islamism in the world to further its anti communist agenda against freedom-loving forces and maintained close ties with friendly Islamic governments such as Saudi Arabia. Similarly, in Iraq Islamists were pushed to the center stage by US support and encouragement. It was the US puppet Governing Council in Iraq that replaced what was left of civil family laws with the Islamic Sharia law that sees regards women officially as sub-humans. In Afghanistan, where the US government went to "free" the people, an Islamic regime was officially established by American criminal Islamic allies under the US gun. Islamism and American policy go hand in hand, and there is no necessary, inevitable, or irreconcilable conflict among the two.
Elections and representative democracy have very little to do with freedom, mass participation, and control in the political process. They are political frameworks through which the bourgeoisie legitimizes its control of the society. Every few years, people get the chance to exercise their highest "civic duty" to relieve themselves of their power as citizens and delegate it to those who will rule over them and exploit them. Through these procedures we get Hitler, Khomeini, Aznar, Berlusconi, George Bush, Bill Clinton, etc. If the electoral game fails to work in the best interests of the bourgeois society, then they will take out their guns and machetes, pour blood and/or leave no stone unturned to subvert the process that they so admire and cheer for. Election and electoral fetishism is sheer bourgeoisie hypocrisy.
Iraqi people have a just desire to choose their own government. After decades of suffering under the Baath fascist regime they want freedom and a humane society. The people of Iraq see fair and free elections as their right, which they want to exercise. However, the Islamist call for an election has nothing to do with freedom and Iraqi people's desire to build a better future. It is an attempt to seize the moment and seek a bigger share of the political power in Iraq. The Islamists want to make sure that Iraq becomes officially another Islamic republic.
Al-Sistani is a reactionary, hypocrite, and opportunist Mullah who never opened his mouth or issued, as all grand mullahs usually do, a "religious edict" to protest the US murderous and genocidal policy towards Iraq. But now, with the help of some media demagogues, he is posing himself as a "mystic," a "spiritual," "humble," and "simple" man who has no political ambitions but is concerned only about the future of Iraq; a man who wants a "democratic process and elections" to establish a representative government based on the will of the people. Such portrayal of Islamists in Iraq throws dust in the eyes of people and is intended to prevent the international community from seeing the real reactionary and medieval character of Sistani and his cronies.
The people of Iraq have a right to freely elect a government of their own choosing. The US government's plan to build an Iraqi government through US-appointed caucuses is nothing but an attempt to create a puppet regime in Iraq on the model of the Governing Council they have set up. But free elections can occur only in a safe and open environment free from terror, violence, and intimidations. Free elections find true meaning only where free political activity for all people and political parties is ensured and protected.
A free election in occupied Iraq under the US murderous military machinery is impossible. US militarism and the terrorism of the right wing nationalist and Islamist military insurgency in Iraq will not allow a free election to take place. The People of Iraq cannot choose their own government of their choice freely when Islamist forces, particularly in the south of Iraq, are terrorizing the masses. Nor can they when the US puppet Governing Council passes laws such as Resolution 137 (Islamic Sharia laws) to dehumanize women and subjugate them to god, mosque, Islamic clergy, male relatives, and men in general.
In order to create an environment where the people of Iraq can freely choose their own government, the US occupation of Iraq must end immediately, and the US army must withdraw from Iraq completely. As matter of practical necessity, the UN, with the help of international humanitarian and human rights organizations, should temporarily administer Iraq through the transition to a government chosen freely by the people of Iraq.
Most important of all, the following measures, as indicated by the Workers communist Party of Iraq, must be fought for, introduced, and implemented though the mass struggle of the people:
· Full and unconditional political freedom, freedom of belief, expression, press, assembly, demonstration, organization, strike and the freedom of formation of political parties.
· Separation of religion from the state and education. All religious inspired laws and regulations must be repealed. Individuals must have freedom of religion and atheism.
· Full and unconditional equality of rights of men and women in legal, social and individual domains, and the repealing of all laws and regulations that violate this principle.
· Full and unconditional equality of all residents regardless of sex, nationality, religion, race, ethnicity and citizenship.
· Abolition of the death penalty.
· The public, and especially political parties, must have free access to the mass media.
To guarantee a free environment for the of Iraqi people, international progressive movements, including progressive political forces and freedom-loving organizations, must actively intervene and uphold the principles of freedom, equality, secularism, progress and a better world for the people of Iraq. Freedom and a humane life know no boundaries.
Also, the progressive humanity must put its unequivocal support behind the ongoing and growing mass progressive and secular struggle of workers, unemployed masses, women, and youth in Iraq. It is this struggle that will rid Iraq from the forces of reaction, nationalism, religious atrocity, and ethnocentrism and build a progressive and humane society.
Only the progressive humanity, inside and outside of Iraq, can bring a better future to the Iraqi society. The Worker communist Party of Iraq is leading this historic struggle. Building a direct international solidarity movement with WCPI is a task and a challenge for anyone who truly stands for freedom and a better world.