Saturday, January 07, 2006

Iraq: Beyond the Ballot: "Last January’s elections came about because of mass nonviolent resistance, for which the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani became a symbol. (The violent insurgency is another creature altogether from this popular movement.) Few competent observers would disagree with the editors of the Financial Times, who wrote last March that "the reason (the elections) took place was the insistence of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who vetoed three schemes by the US-led occupation authorities to shelve or dilute them."

"Elections, if taken seriously, mean you pay some attention to the will of the population. The crucial question for an invading army is: "Do they want us to be here?"

"There is no lack of information about the answer. One important source is a poll for the British Ministry of Defence this past August, carried out by Iraqi university researchers and leaked to the British Press. It found that 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops and less than 1 per cent believe they are responsible for any improvement in security."

"There’s a good reason why the United States cannot tolerate a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. The issue can scarcely be raised because it conflicts with firmly established doctrine: We’re supposed to believe that the United States would have invaded Iraq if it was an island in the Indian Ocean and its main export was pickles, not petroleum.

"As is obvious to anyone not committed to the party line, taking control of Iraq will enormously strengthen US power over global energy resources, a crucial lever of world control. Suppose that Iraq were to become sovereign and democratic. Imagine the policies it would be likely to pursue. The Shia population in the South, where much of Iraq’s oil is, would have a predominant influence. They would prefer friendly relations with Shia Iran."

"Right across the border in Saudi Arabia is a substantial, bitter Shia population. Any move toward independence in Iraq is likely to increase efforts to gain a degree of autonomy and justice there, too. This also happens to be the region where most of Saudi Arabia’s oil is. The outcome could be a loose Shia alliance comprising Iraq, Iran and the major oil regions of Saudi Arabia, independent of Washington and controlling large portions of the world’s oil reserves. It’s not unlikely that an independent bloc of this kind might follow Iran’s lead in developing major energy projects jointly with China and India.

"Iran may give up on Western Europe, assuming that it will be unwilling to act independently of the United States. China, however, can’t be intimidated. That’s why the United States is so frightened by China.... Such developments, including a sovereign Iraq and possibly even major Saudi energy resources, would be the ultimate nightmare for Washington.... One critical question is how Westerners will react. Will we be on the side of the occupying forces trying to prevent democracy and sovereignty? Or will we be on the side of the Iraqi people?"

The stakes are this high but the United States appears to be heading straight towards defeat.

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