Iraq: Sectarian elections provoke more violence / FRFI 215 Jun/Jul 2010

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FRFI 215 June/July 2010

Following the stalemate in the March Iraqi parliamentary elections, sectarian divisions that were inflamed by the imperialist occupation are again threatening the security of the Iraqi people, as the various bourgeois factions battle for control of the country’s resources. In the election, the predominantly Sunni Iraqiya Alliance, headed by Iyad Allawi, won two more seats than Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law Party. Al Maliki immediately made accusations of electoral fraud and demanded a recount in Baghdad, which he hopes will give him four more seats. An Iraqi court has disqualified another two Iraqiya MPs because of links to the old ruling Baath party. Other opposition MPs have been arrested or have fled their homes fearing arrest.

In May, State of Law announced an alliance with the other main Shia bloc, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) that has close ties with Iran. This would give them, with some Kurdish support, an absolute majority and once again exclude the Sunni minority from a share of power. However, within the INA, the Sadrists, followers of Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, did particularly well. His main support comes from the poor and working class. Al Sadr is a long-standing opponent of the imperialist occupation. He is strongly opposed to Al Maliki because of the prime minister’s support for US attempts to destroy the Sadrist militia, the Mehdi Army. So the question of who will be prime minister remains unresolved.

Violence flares

Three waves of attacks in April and May, mainly against Iraqi government, security and Shia targets, killed over 250 people. Al Sadr threatened to put the Mehdi Army on the streets again. Many political factions still have their own militias. According to Human Rights Watch, the Baghdad Brigade, that answers personally to Al Maliki, has been running a secret prison in West Baghdad where Sunni anti-occupation fighters have been sexually abused and tortured.

The US has been pushing for a coalition by which Al Maliki and Allawi would each serve for two years. The US will be keen to sign a new agreement allowing US bases to remain when the present Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) expires at the end of next year. Allawi was the imperialists’ choice as interim prime minister after the invasion. He had been an agent for the CIA and was instrumental in maintaining the lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Allawi’s election campaign was financed by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states, together with Turkey, which has threatened to invade Iraq if ever an independent Kurdish region is established. Iyad Allawi told The Guardian: ‘This conflict will not remain within the borders of Iraq. It will spill over and it has the potential to reach the world at large, not just the neighbouring countries.’

Jim Craven