Ayatollah Sistani is correct—if you’re going to have a democracy, then have a democracy where every person has a vote and the majority rules. Of course, there will be rules to protect minorities, but there is no way you can have a true democracy if minorities rule the country (as America seems want to do). Of course, the Americans plan to keep over 100,000 troops in Iraq. This is fine with the puppet “governing council of Talabani, Chalabi and friends, because this will protect their lives and their power—but no true democratic government in Iraq will allow the Americans to stay once the Americans relinquish governing power. So, will America allow a true democracy to rule the country, or will it be another set of puppets or groups unable to do anything while Paul Bremer or some other American appointee actually runs the show? If the present American plan goes through, this latter option with an American running the show will be put in place and this will bode poorly for "democracy."
America as an example of democracy and freedom in the world is all but gone under this absurdly contradictory regime of GW Bush. The fiasco in Iraq is just another example; it has already been seen as a lie in the recent Afghan “elections” (where very few of the Afghans actually voted in the new “government” of Ahmad Karzai and his group). Ironically, in order to calm matters, word has reached me from some Afghan sources that Richard Armitage, of the U.S. State Department, is becoming more cozy with the former Taliban Foreign Minister and other officials he’s been meeting with of late. Is this how democracy comes in and reforms a country? This approach, of trying to appease the warlords, Karzai, the Pashtuns and Uzbeks will only be a band-aid in Afghanistan because the divisions wrought from the tribal fighting of centuries will not vanish, even with thousands of foreign troops on the ground.
But in Iraq, the Shi'a, because of their firm, loyal and organized religious bonds, will not be broken--as they have not been broken for thirteen centuries. The American plan of divide and conquer will not work in Iraq because the Baathist's back has been broken, the Kurds cannot control the whole of Iraq and the Shi'a will not sell out to America. They know they have aces in their hands and that the American military has not,and cannot control the whole of Iraq, or even large sections of it. Ayatollah Sistani, Imam Hakim and Imam Sadr have all made this clear--and they are united as one in this Shi'a declaration for self-sufficiency, self-governance and a UN monitored open democratic election. Of course, the Shi'a favor this because they know they are the majority in Iraq. However, it does not mean they will suddenly turn on their Iraqi brethren if they win the election. Unfortunately, some American spin-meisters have been pushing this story in the same absurd way they tried to deceive people with the hoax of a relationship between the secularist Saddam Hussein and the fanatic Wahabi Osama Bin Laden and this recent invention that Saddam had a document that warned Iraqis not to work with Arab and Muslims fighters that might come in to oppose the American occupation forces.
Ayatollah Sistani has made clear, and he has the largest following of any Iraqi, that he will not abide by a fractured Iraq or a fake “election” of caucuses running the country.
He has made clear, as have so many Iraqis that they want a real and open election of a new and Iraqi chosen government—no more American puppet groups, or American appointees running the country. Unless this happens, you can be prepared for a massive resistance from the Shi’a—and this will make the disorganized resistance of present day Iraqi Baathists, groups of families who want revenge for the American killing of their relatives, parents or children, outside Muslims and Arabs wanting to fight the occupying American forces, seem like child’s play.
Remember this about the Shi’a of Iraq—they cannot be bought and they have come to the end of their suffering in quiet. Unless the Americans move toward a true democratic election, with UN Monitors and with American hands off—we shall pay a heavier price in Iraq than any of the American government “experts” will be able to even imagine.
Sam Hamod is an expert on Middle Eastern and Islamic Affairs. He is a former professor at Princeton, advisor to the US State Department and served as Director of the National Islamic Center in Washington, DC and as editor of Third World News (DC). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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