Should Iraqis Boycott the Election?

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To Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Yes, Says Mohammed al-Obaidi

Regular readers of “Memo on the Margin” will recognize Dr. Obaidi
as an acquaintance I’ve come to trust in recent years as a straight-shooting
Iraqi who has been living in exile in the UK as a medical doctor
and now a university professor. He was sincerely anti-Saddam when
I encountered him, but also unusual in that he agreed completely
with Dr. Stephen Pelletiere, my CIA friend, that Saddam did not
commit genocide and that the Iraqi Kurds who died at Halabja in
March 1988 were caught between the Iranian and Iraqi forces and
were collateral victims of Iranian gassings intended for Iraqi soldiers.

Mohammed also opposed the U.S. war, believing it was unnecessary
and would take a great toll on the Iraqi people. He has, though,
been the spokesman for the “People’s Struggle Movement,” a political
party that intended to participate in the January elections until
it came to believe the Allawi government was making sure the outcome
of the elections would put in power a national assembly that would
only serve the interests of the occupying power, the US. I frankly
don’t know what’s going on in Baghdad and am mystified by the stories
I read in our papers and periodicals about the coalitions getting
ready for the elections. But I ran across Dr. Obaidi’s column today
on Al Jazeera’s English language website and found it interesting
and persuasive as to why we are hearing so much about the boycott.
By the way, it was Obaidi who introduced the opinion editor of Al
Jazeera to me some months ago and I am now also writing occasional
columns for the network.

Why Iraqis should boycott the election
by Mohammed al-Obaidi
Friday 03 December 2004

Forty seven Iraqi political parties met on 17 November and made
the decision to boycott the coming Iraq election. The People’s Struggle
Movement (al-Kifah al-Shabi), which I represent, was one of those

After carefully studying Iraq's situation, considering the military
occupation as well as economic and national interests, we felt there
were enough reasons for any patriotic Iraqi to boycott the proposed
January election.

It is a violation of all international laws. International charters
that regulate the relationship between occupier and occupied do
not give occupying authorities the mandate to instigate a change
in the country’s social, economic and political structure.

The planned election will change the political composition of
Iraq to suit the interests of the occupation authorities. The change
will also lead to ethnic, sectarian and religious divisions that
the Iraqi state and people had succeeded to avoid.

Historically, Iraqis have been able to coexist and the spectre
of civil war did not loom until the country was stricken by the
US-led occupation.

Many Iraqi political activists believe the coming election results
have been decided already. They also believe the electoral process
will not be free and democratic but will be exclusively for those
who maintain strong ties with the US occupation authorities. We
feel that all steps have been taken to secure full US domination
of decision makers in Iraq.

A look at the electoral process and the composition of the current
national council reveals that the election’s main mission will be
to install some of the country's most notorious politicians who
have constantly spoken proudly of their links to international intelligence

The coming election will give power to every politician who has
assisted the invaders and collaborated with them to consolidate
the occupation. Therefore, we believe that even after the election,
the decision-making process will be taken in the US embassy in Baghdad
and the elected government will be no more than a vehicle to carry
out Washington's decisions.

It is very difficult for any sensible person to believe that the
US would give up its domination of Iraq after spending billions
of dollars and sacrificing the lives of hundreds of its soldiers.

We cannot believe that after all this the US will simply allow
free and democratic election to take place in Iraq that could install
a government which could make it its first priority to tell foreign
troops to get out.

We strongly believe that the main purpose of the election process
is to secure a government that will facilitate long-lasting agreements
with the US to keep its forces on Iraqi soil and transform the country
into an American colony.

The US administration works hard to portray the Iraq election
as a political achievement to cover over the scar that the war has
left on its credibility.

Washington will use the election card to pull the wool over the
eyes of the international community to prevent it from seeing the
tragic consequences that the war has left on the Iraqi people.

For all these reasons, many Iraqi political activists feel it
is their national duty to boycott the 30 January election.

[Professor Mohammed al-Obaidi is the spokesman for the People's
Struggle Movement (Al-Kifah Al-Sha'abi) in Iraq, and works as a
University Professor in the UK. He was born and educated in al-Adhamiyah
district in Baghdad. This article, was written exclusively for,
and was translated from Arabic.]

4, 2004

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