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On the Iraq Election

[Editor’s Note: On January 30, the curtain of “the first free election in last 50 years” in Iraq fell. Four hours after the polls closed, the U.S. President Bush said excitedly that the election was a success. The following are two commentaries by Xinhua, China state news agency on the election.]

Iraq Election: Who Really Gains?

Source: Xinhuanet, February 6, 2005

On January 30, the curtain of “the first free election in last 50 years” in Iraq fell. Four hours after the polls closed, the U.S. President Bush said excitedly that the election was a success. However, Iraq still has a long road to go towards its goal of democracy. The United States was overjoyed over the smooth Iraqi election as well as good turnout by voters. Before the election, the United States was unwilling to predict the post-election “new situation,” but reiterated that to hold the election itself was a victory. Now the U.S. government started to enjoy the fruit of victory, but the future Iraqi government will face increasing worries.

The Iraqi election is an important event for Bush in his second term. He has gained at least four “presents” from the election:

First, the election is advantageous in alleviating the conflict between the United States and Europe. It is well known that the U.S.-Europe ties were frayed by the Iraq war. As long as the Iraq issue remains unresolved, the fissure between the U.S. and Europe will be difficult to repair. The United States knows well that not only the Iraq election may give an opportunity to repair their ties, but also it is an issue of “democracy and human rights” that Europe is most concerned about. But the chaotic situation in Iraq has made observers from Europe unwilling to enter into Iraq. They can only stay in countries such as Jordan and Syria to observe the election remotely. European countries desired to watch the election, but they could not have a clear look. They just enjoyed themselves while observing, but unable to do anything. That was exactly what the United States preferred. After the election, leaders in Europe and America all sent their messages of congratulations. The Iraq election has indeed created an easy environment for the U.S.-Europe relations. Ms. Rice, U.S. Secretary of State, has started to prepare for Bush’s trip to Europe, and Iraq will not be the “embarrassing issue” for both sides anymore. Even Democrat senator Joseph Biden, who frequently criticized Bush Administration’s Iraqi policy, said excitedly that “I’m going to tell him (French President Jacques Chirac) politely that it’s time for the French to step up.”

Second, the Iraqi election is advantageous to the United States to promote the “Great Middle East Plan.” U.S. experts on Middle East pointed out that Iraq will play the role of a “light house of democracy.” In the past many people in the Middle East had doubts and questioned about how the United States promoted democracy. Now they will see that they can enjoy democracy and freedom within the structure of their own culture and life style. In addition, the Iraqi election has “activated” the chess game that the United States played in the Middle East. Soon after the election, Associated Press immediately released articles to say that post-election Iraq will see Shiite Muslims in power who have very close ties with Iran, and that Iran’s influence in the Middle East will be significantly strengthened. On one hand, this viewpoint pushed Iran to the front from behind curtains, bringing it in the open in front of the United States, thus preventing it from “speaking and moving at will.” On the other hand the viewpoint re-enforced the sense of crisis of countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, where Sunni Muslims are in power. These countries do not want to see that Shiite Muslims in Iraq and Iran motivate the Shiites in their own countries and cause turbulence. The only way to solve this problem is to ask the United States for help.

Third, the legitimacy of U.S. troops in Iraq and U.S. vested interests in Iraq has been affirmed. Before the election, U.S. troops were the “occupiers,” but after the election they became the “supporters” of Iraqis against terrorism. Moreover, the outcome of the election enables the Iraqi Shiite Muslims to tightly control the oil production area of south Iraq, such as Basra; the Kurds would control the oil city of Kirkulk; and the Sunni Muslims would be restrained in the mid-Iraq area that produces little oil. Therefore, the cost for the United States to control Iraq’s energy resources would reduce significantly.

Fourth, the Iraqi election has inspired American national spirit and suppressed voices of the opponent. U.S. media has carried extensive reports on the Iraqi election. The New York Times, for example, pointed out that anti-American insurgents wanted to prevent people in Baghdad from voting but failed; they wanted to create chaos but also failed. There were many similar reports that were full of fervor. From the election, Americans have felt the “value” of American soldiers fighting in the battles. Such atmosphere also has affected U.S. Democrats. Their voices of criticism of Bush Administration on Iraq issue abruptly weakened. Only John Kerry dared to say that the Iraqi election might not be democratic.

By comparison, the future Iraqi government did not gain much from the election, but has many problems instead. Before the election there were slogans: “The election is the only way to end the occupying by U.S. troops,” “The election is the only way to obtain security,” and “The election is the only way to improve our life.” But at present these slogans are exactly the new government’s vulnerabilities. First, the security issue is a matter of “life and death” to the new government. The viewpoint of the majority of Iraqi voters was that, whoever elected, the new government should be able to improve the security situation. Many people risked their lives to vote just for this reason. If the security situation remains unchanged, it would be difficult for the new government to survive. Next, it would be hard to resolve the conflict between religious sects. Since the Sunni Muslims did not vote, they of course will not recognize the new government. If the new government does not allocate power well, it can easily be the root cause of a civil war. Third, it is difficult to deal with the relationship with the United States and with the surrounding countries. Before the election, the United States kicked the ball of withdrawing troops to the new government by stating that the United States would withdraw its troops as long as the new government requests. The Iraqi people have watching eagerly that U.S. troops withdraw soon. If the new government delays the request of withdrawal, it would lose the support of the people. Moreover, how to satisfy the United States while dealing with those countries hostile to the United States such as Iran and Syria, is also a big test for the new Iraqi government.

For the United States and the Iraqi new government, the impact of the Iraqi election will depend on how the situation there further develops. The result of the Iraqi election is bound to be that some feel happy and others feel upset.

United States to Establish “Suicide Squads” to Suppress Anti-American Insurgents

Source: Xinhuanet, January 11, 2005

As January 30 election is approaching, Iraqi insurgents are making another wave of assassinations. Following the assassination of Governor of Bagdad on January 4, Iraqi insurgents shot Deputy Police Chief to death. Meanwhile, U.S. forces in Iraq are attempting to establish “Suicide Squads” against anti-U.S. Iraqi insurgents based on its experience in fighting with guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago.

U.S. Troops Killed 22 Innocent Iraqi Civilians in One Day

On January 10, a suicide bomber rammed a police vehicle into a police station in south Baghdad and exploded the car bomb, which caused at least 3 deaths and injured several people.

In broad daylight Iraqi insurgents killed Baghdad’s Governor and Deputy Police Chief, and blasted the police building. However, speaking about “killing people” U.S. troops in Iraq are no inferior to the insurgents. On January 8 one day alone, they killed 22 innocent Iraqi civilians one after another.

About 2 a.m. on January 8, a U.S. F-16 fighter plane dropped a 500 pounds precision-guided bomb hitting a residence in a village in south Mosul. According to U.S. military, at least 5 civilians died in the incident, but the owner of the house said 14 people were killed. A photojournalist from Associated Press reported at the scene that among those who died were 7 adults and 7 children, and that the scene was bloody and horrible. Afterwards U.S. military made a statement admitting that the air strike by an U.S. airplane had hit a civilian house in the Mosul area, and apologized for the incident.

On the night of January 8, however, a U.S. military convoy was hit by a roadside bomb blast in the Yusufiya area, about 15 km south of Baghdad. Shortly afterwards, U.S. troops randomly opened fires to a nearby checkpoint, killing 2 policemen and 3 civilians. On January 9, the hospital reported 8 deaths and 12 injured.

United States to Promote the Iraqi Version of “Salvadoran Plan”

Although Iraq has been in chaotic state and almost become a slaughter house, U.S. Department of State still wants to borrow from its experience in attacking the guerrilla insurgency in Central America 20 years ago: The United States would send Special Forces to train Iraqi troops, Shiite militiamen and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to establish “suicide squads” in Iraq, and use them against anti-U.S. forces of Sunni insurgents in order to better achieve U.S. goal in Iraq.

This plan was called “the Salvador Plan,” said The Times on January 10, quoting a report from U.S. Newsweek. According to this plan, the Defense Department or CIA would be responsible for “suicide squads” which would carry out special missions of kidnapping and assassinating leaders of Iraqi insurgents.

However, people in Central America still feel fearful in their heart of American experience of so-called “suicide squads.” This is one of reasons that the United States does not have good image in the region. In the 1980s Reagan Administration used the income from illegal arms sales to Iran and took Honduras as the base to train Nicaraguan anti-government forces in order to overthrow the Nicaraguan Sandino government. In 2001, 185 corpses had been excavated from a military base of Nicaragua anti-government forces. These people were hostages kidnapped and murdered by then anti-government forces, according to an investigation of U.S. CIA.

John Negroponte, President Bush’s alumni and current U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, was Ambassador to Honduras during 1981 to 1985. He was at the “front line” to experience in person the bloodshed of the years of “suicide squads.”

Unlike what it did in Nicaragua, the United States did not support anti-government forces in El Salvador but financed the training of El Salvador government troops to attack anti-government forces. Now the United States intends to apply similar tactics in Iraq, thus repeating the bloodshed 20 years ago.

U.S. Defense Department refused to comment on the U.S. Newsweek’s report. The spokeswoman for the Defense Department said, “we don’t discuss specifics of actions and strategies.” However, an inside source in the Department indicated, “All people (of the Department) agreed that we should not maintain status quo. We have to seek a way to fight Iraqi insurgents. Currently we are defensive and in a disadvantageous position.”