Iraq's new version of democracy
Interview with Mohsen Ebrahimi,
May 22, 2005
By Maryam Namazie
Maryam Namazie: Condoleezza Rice was recently in Iraq in order to encourage the 'newly elected' government to include more Sunnis in the drafting of the constitution because she claims it will end the "insurgency." Is this a step forward in your opinion?
Mohsen Ebrahimi: It is not even a tiny step toward ending the bloodshed created by both the US military and Islamic forces. As was obvious from the beginning, the presence of the US military in Iraq has acted and will continue to act as a breeding ground for the flourishing of Islamic terrorist groups. Ms. Rice should explain to the Iraqi people how the participation of one or more Islamic factions in the drafting of the constitution will lead to a constitution that benefits Iraqis as citizens. She doesn't even bother to talk about this because the human needs of Iraqis are not on the agenda at all. I think the whole idea of a constitution as a denomination of the political interests of Islamic and tribal gangs will intensify the ongoing bloodshed. In fact, with this step, i.e., the establishment of a tribal-religious identity for Iraq's political system, the US is creating new waves of factional fighting. With such a situation, even if the US military decides to leave Iraq today, Islamic groups will continue killing innocent people in their internal fights to grab the biggest share of political power.
Maryam Namazie: Some say that it is an important step because Sunnis should be represented in the government as the Shias or Kurds are; isn't that what democracy really is -- a government representative of the people, for the people, by the people?
Mohsen Ebrahimi: The political system they are trying to inflict on the Iraqi people does not even fit the usual definition of democracy, a so-called government for the people, by the people. The Iraqi people are not considered in this kind of democracy as individuals with their human needs and political views. They have no political role to play at all. They have been replaced by religious gangs and tribal and nationalist factions. And these factions don't represent the Iraqi people; they represent a world-wide Islamic and tribal movement or Islamic-tribal terrorism. This is the new version of democracy pre-cooked for the people in the Middle East. This is the New World Order's version of democracy. In this version, democracy doesn't mean a government for the people by the people, but it means a government for the interests of religious and tribal factions via their gangs. And this is against the will of the Iraqi people who have nothing in common with these tribal-religious gangs.
Maryam Namazie: You are saying that Iraqi people are not tribal-religious folk. You have written an article about this as well. But the reality -- some would say -- is that a large number of people voted in these elections whether you like it or not, whether you consider them elections or not. So in a sense, isn't this what the majority has chosen? Shouldn't you respect that decision?
Mohsen Ebrahimi: The majority of people in Iraq are desperate, bound and gagged individuals caught in the crossfire between the US military on the one hand and the notorious Islamic gangs on the other. How can such a majority go to poll stations and express their perspective about Iraq's political future? The so-called election, which took place in Iraq, was everything but an election! In Iraq, even a basic precondition for a free election did not exist and doesn't exist now. I am alluding to a civil society with political parties and a secure and free environment. It is unimaginable to expect people to express their free political desires at gun point and in a shattered society.
Maryam Namazie: The UK government is rethinking its position towards Hamas and Hezbollah in the Palestinian territory because it seems that they are going to get a large number of votes, and one of the things that the foreign office has said is that it is hypocritical to encourage democracy but refuse to accept the outcome even if it means working with a group one finds distasteful. Now isn't that what you are doing; you encourage people to vote, to have a say and then when you don't like the outcome, isn't it a bit hypocritical to then call it a tribal-Islamic democracy?
Mohsen Ebrahimi: First of all, I should say that the US and British governments should not worry about hypocrisy as they have had innumerable hypocritical relationships with various governments all along. We know that they have done their best to topple any government in any corner of the world if those governments did not fit into their political agenda. They have done that before; they are doing it right now. They did it with Allende in Chile , and they are doing it against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela because they don't like his agenda, because they consider him a leftist. He came to power via elections, but the US government is doing anything it possibly can to topple him. No one should take it seriously that the political elite in the UK have suddenly turned from hypocrites to honest politicians. The fact is that Iraq has turned into a political quagmire, and they are desperately trying to pull out from it. Their embrace of Hamas and Hezbollah under the name of respect for democracy is a new step, of course hypocritical step, towards this end.
With regards to Hamas and Hezbollah, I would like to emphasise a few significant points:
1. Even if Hamas and Hezbollah get a majority of votes, we can still identify them with their true identity: they are part of the Islamic movement with an Islamic agenda. A majority vote doesn't change these factions' political agenda and identity.
2. As I mentioned before, in a shattered and desperate society, majorities of people are not able to express their true desires. Such a situation can be easily exploited by reactionary groups. And this is exactly what is happening in Palestine now. As a result of Israel's policy backed by the United States , people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been living under constant harassment of the Israeli Army; they have been deprived of basic human rights and they are suffering from huge unemployment. Hamas and Hezbollah are abusing such a situation.
3. As a final point, the majority in Palestine will be in a position to have a political say only if Israel's troops leave the West Bank and Gaza Strip and all political groups have an equal opportunity to compete for political power free of fear of Islamic gangs.
Maryam Namazie: If you don't accept the elections in Iraq and have explained why the elections in Iraq were not fair given the circumstances there, what then would you consider a precondition to have real elections in Iraq?
Mohsen Ebrahimi: 1. The US military as well as religious and tribal factions must be swept away from the political scene so that people would feel secure to speak out and articulate their true desires. While they are present, people cannot speak out; they cannot express their true will and aspirations.
2. The political parties - from left to right - must have an equal opportunity to express their programmes and perspectives about the political future, the economy, and every aspect of social life in Iraq. These are two basic pre-conditions for a real election.
The above is an edited transcript of a TV International interview on May 22, 2005. TV International can be seen via internet on http://www.anternasional.tv/english.