Deterring Democracy in Iraq

When the Iraqi assembly opened on March 16th, the fact there was no government was dutifully reported. Why this was the case went unmentioned. The BBC news failed to mention why, their reporter Jim Muir in Baghdad saying that coalition politics was a novelty in a country ruled by a tight dictatorship for decades, and the learning curve has been steep.

The implication is clear -- it is the fault of the Iraqis themselves. This, however, is not the case.

In any democracy worthy of the name, if a party has 51% in parliament it automatically gets to form a government. This was the case with the last US Presidential election (ignoring for the moment the issue of vote rigging). Not so in Iraq, where a two-thirds majority is required. This means that the United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite parties, that has about 53% of the members of the Iraqi parliament is not able to form a government. Six weeks after the election, no government is in sight. Shiite/Kurdish negotations have fallen apart.

Thus the Iraqi democratic process has been girdlocked by this need for super-majorities, a provision imposed by the American occupiers. Why? Simply to secure the continuation of the US occupation and the furthering of US interests by means of a neo-colonial decree. It is an anti-democratic mechanism used to thwart the will of the majority of Iraqis (who, let us not forget, braved great danger to come out and vote).

So remember when Bush and Rice praised the elections, chastising critics for supposedly claiming that Iraqis were not ready for democracy? Well, behind the scenes they made sure that democracy was not really an option. For the Bush Junta, the Iraqis are not considered ready enough for any form of self-government not approved of by Washington.

Ironically, the Bush Junta's own elections in Iraq confirm Bush's own demand that Syrian troops leave Lebanon "because you cannot hold free and fair elections under foreign military occupation." As well as being beyond self-parody, it is also true. As US occupied Iraq shows.

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