Thursday, October 14, 2021. Iraq did not have a fair and free election.
Iraq elections were supposed to prove something. And the US government really wanted that. They want Mustafa al-Kahdimi to have a second term as prime minister and they want the elections to send a message to the world. And a message has been sent, it's just not the message that the US government was hoping for.
The Iraqi people are not fooled by the government that has been imposed upon them. They are not fooled by the politicians and officials who promise to represent them but never do. Maybe if, like in the US, they'd lived under the current system for over 200 years, it woul dbe different. But 'democracy' in Iraq is still a new thing and the Iraqi people know there is something better, that there has to be, then what is being imposed upon them.
This shows in the record low turnout. It shows in reactions to the results.
Some see the results as a "scam."
Mina al-Orabia (FOREIGN POLICY) provides a walk-through:
On Sunday, Iraq held its fifth national elections since the removal of Saddam Hussein in 2003, with the national parliament’s 329 seats at stake. While final results have yet to be announced, the biggest losers appear to be pro-Iranian militant groups, which have already said they’ll reject the outcome and have issued veiled and not-so-veiled threats of violence.
Another loser of the election is Iraq’s struggling democracy itself. Believing their system to be manipulated, about 60 percent of eligible voters stayed away from the polls. That hasn’t kept the government and election monitors from touting the vote as a success—it went relatively smoothly, there were no incidents of violence, and most voters had easy access to polling stations. Electronic voting and biometric registration cards had been introduced with the promise of eliminating the kind of fraud that undermined the last elections in 2018.
However, the Iraqi government and Independent High Electoral Commission promised to deliver the results within 24 hours of the polls closing, which would have been Monday night. Instead, the results of only 10 provinces were announced on Monday, with Baghdad and eight other provinces still trickling in. When the electoral commission made the initial results public online, its website crashed as Iraqis rushed to see the results. A delay in electronic vote counting meant that some boxes had to be counted manually without external monitors, further undermining Iraqis’ trust.
The elections and the results aren't credible -- not to the outside world, not inside Iraq. PRENSA LATINA notes:
Meanwhile, Hadi al-Ameri, Head of the Conquest Alliance (al-Fatah Alliance), expressed his rejection to preliminary reports of vote counting.
Some in the press are rushing to spin the results as a mark against Iran.
They are imposing their wishful eye glasses on others.
Iran and Iraq are neighbors. They will get along. They will squabble. It's been that way for decades. They have links and they have barriers. You'd be better off arguing the election was a reproach to the militias. I don't know what to say here so I'm just going to say it. The US government is stupid beyond words. It's wanted, for years and years, to turn Iraq against Iran. But they never grasp how. It's fairly obvious how. And it's not in the way they've done it. I'm going to stop there because I don't want to help empire. But all the US government is doing right now is ensuring that Iran and Iraq will resolve conflicts.
This is nonsense:
You can say "Iran-linked." But "pro-Iran"? Are we going to include others in that? Certainly, the KDP in Kurdistan is pro-Iran. Does Hero Talabani make a move without darting off to Tehran first? Not a significant move.
Iran and Iraq are neighbors. There are many Iraqis who are 'pro-Iran." And that same group can -- and does -- include pro-Iran Iraqis who are also pro-Iraq and want an independent Iraq.
What's passing for analysis is soggy and ill defined.
Some of the rush to spin Iran as the loser is also about trying to move the spotlight off the US. It's the US government that imposed the corrupt system in Iraq. It's the US that back the current prime minister -- the low turnout can -- and should -- be read as a reflection upon him. This election was a debacle for the US government and for it's 'mission' in Iraq.
Thanks to Mina al-Oraibi for getting it right regarding the Commission's promise that they'd have the results on Monday -- and that they didn't. And apologies to her because until the person I was dictating this snapshot to this morning said it was "Oraibi," we have spelled it here "Draibi" -- and that's been for years. My apologies.
I have no idea why the Commission would make that promise. For over two weeks, we noted that as follows:
In one surprising development, Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) has reported: "Iraq’s electoral commission aims to announce the results of the upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10 within 24 hours, they announced on Thursday following a voting simulation."
It was never going to happen. But they made the promise and they weren't able to keep it which is one more thing being pointed to on social media with some suggesting that they weren't able to do that because the results did not go as they wanted so they were rigging it.
That's one possibility. I don't subscribe to it but I could be wrong and often am. What I find most appalling is the lack of census. I'm surprised by how many adults were registered to vote -- I'm going by the commission's published figure for 2020 that we noted earlier this week. Every adult is not registered to vote. The CIA's estimate -- an estimate -- is 40 million. Iraq is a land of widows and orphans. 21 years-old is the median age. It's past time that Iraq held a census and I would question every election held until they do at this point.
This election was not transparent and it was not fair. I am no fan of the militias -- I'm opposed to them being part of the government (as security forces) and I see the bulk of them as thugs and call them that here regularly. But the Iraqi government made them part of the security forces. To have done that and then not allowed some to early vote? That's not fair. That's not a free election. As security forces, they were deployed around Iraq on election day. If they couldn't early vote, they had to return to their homes to vote and for some that wasn't possible.
If we did that to any security forces in the US, it would be denounced as unpatriotic. Joe Lieberman helped destroy the 2000 election, please remember, by going on NBC's MEET THE PRESS and responding that US military ballots should be counted even if they didn't meet the regulations.
I don't know how Mustafa gets away without having to publicly weigh in on that.
I don't support the militias being part of the Iraqi government. All the problems that they cause ar problems we noted here -- years ago. Because they tried to make them part of the government for years. But it doesn't matter right now what I think about whether they should be government forces or not, they are government forces.
And some were deprived -- by the government -- of the right to vote.
That's a corrupt system and that's not a fair and free election -- and I don't care how many foreigners you dub "observers" -- it doesn't make it fair.
People are protesting for many reasons.
And it's amazing that the press wants to talk about low turnout but doesn't take the time to note that many disabled and challenged voters were deprived of the right to vote. Weeks before the election, Human Rights Watch loudly warned about the barriers for this group and called for this issue to be addressed. After they published that call, they raised it on their Twitter feed at least once a day. And yet news outlets supposedly want to address low turnout but don't have a minute to devote to how one group was not equal to all others and faced hardships and obstacles that others didn't.
I marvel at what passes for news analysis from the major outlets.
Let's wind down with this from Burn Pits 360:
The following sites updated: