Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sham Elections Cubed

Juan Cole's summary includes stories of mass voter disenfranchisement - of smaller minorities, for example:

Az-Zaman reports that 150,000 angry Iraqi Christians in Ninevah Province came out to protest on Monday. The ballot boxes arrived in their areas too late on Sunday, and they say they were promised that they could vote until 10 am Monday to give them time to cast the ballots. In the end, however, the Electoral Commission declined to make an exception for them, and they just won't get to vote.

I gave up trying to find the poll itself (apparently kept offline), so a bit late here is a link to the press report on Zogby's latest poll in Iraq. Even 69% of the Shi'a virtually chant 'Yankee go home!'. (I predict the next step down in rhetorics for liberal apologists of the Occupation: they'll stop speaking of what the Shi'a majority wants, and start speaking of what the new 'elected' Shi'a political elite wants in their name.)

Monday, January 31, 2005

Sham Elections Squared

[Four more links, marked *, and quote at the end added 02/02]

In the previous posts, I now see I was even charitable... I thought the Iraqi sham elections, while below the level of the overturned Ukrainian sham elections last year and the overturned sham elections in Milosevic's Serbia in 2000, are somewhere on the level of the Iranian sham elections last year. (Salim Lone's post-election commentary* reminds of Western double standard in a similar vein.)

However, first read this: clueless election workers, no oversight, no secret ballotting as people have to vote for numbers - and ask elections workers what numbers stand for, total confusion and chaos... Then read on about the media coverage - tex @ UnFairWitness quotes Chris Albrittion about TV stations showing voters in Kurdistan, but not telling viewers; while Shlonkom Bakazay exposes BBC's (Allawi-supplied?) translators making up words never told.

Then read Raed, who forcefully brings up a theme I noticed hints of in earlier stories - apparently, mirroring the campaign of the resistance and terrorists, there was a concerted effort to force higher turnout. I recall stories of US Marines queriing returning Fallujah residents about whether and for whom they plan to vote, another story about US soldiers making house-to-house visits 'asking' (male) residents whether they plan to vote*, and Raed says the Allawi puppet government threatened people with reduced food rations should they not vote. Riverbend @ Baghdad Burning mentions and details the same, and US independent journalist Dahr Jamail reports it too*.

Raed also writes about the spin put on turnout numbers - apparently, even the around 50% figure is the percentage of registered voters (and that only in Iraq, exiles excluded), not of eligible or total voting-age Iraqis. Which reminds many of turnout propaganda in past sham elections like South Vietnam's*, see roundup at Lenin's Tomb. Here is a quote from an 1967 New York Times article:

United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Bloodictions Roundup

Tex @ Unfairwitness counts 44 Iraqis killed by terrorists during voting. It is not surprising that many Iraqis are ready to be suicide bombers - more so that so many are ready to be suicide bombers not against coalition convoys, nor against the Iraqi and contractor auxiliaries of the Coalition, but ready to give their life to kill their own ordinary compatriots. Once Shi'a militias like the Badr Corps start to strike back, the civil war will approach Coalition levels of killing civilians.

As for the Occupiers, aircrafts just keep crashing, the last one a British transport plane - making the media strategy they still maintain for aircraft downings a dark joke: the strategy of first claiming they are "investigating" and have no reports of enemy fire, while suggesting a diffuse other explanation; then bury the story, and let out some details weeks to months later when no one cares anymore.

No major US-orchestrated event in Iraq without upping the absurdity of propaganda: this time, we have the so-called "Independent Election Commission" (independent from what?) declare a 72% participation - and after all the world's media has repeated it mindlessly in the headlines, they 'clarify':

The Independent Election Commission of Iraq clarified an earlier estimate of a 72 percent turnout in Sunday's election, saying that the "figures are only very rough, word-of-mouth estimates gathered informally from the field."
...no comment.

Salim Lone, who was an adviser to the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, then UN envoy to Iraq, also calls this election a sham.

Finally, speaking for the real losers, who will lose both under the US-approved fundamentalists (recall "Sistani the moderate") and the resistance-leading fundamentalists, Iraqi-refugee-from-Saddam Houzan Mahmoud explains why she boycotts.


Removed the link to A rant against the absurdity of modern politics - that blog and its author seems to have disappeared into the great blue electronic void. Update 02/02: the same fate befell the Resolute Cynic. Added Histologion and Blood & Treasure, and (02/02) at last Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches.

Good ocassion to link to some good recent articles of theirs. Histologion, whom I linked earlier, condenses the latest on Coalition torture in Iraq, beyond Abu Ghraib. Blood &Treasure has similar thoughts on the Iraqi sham elections as I had below, but more focused on what I only hinted at with regards to Allawi. Then there's the article on the shadow OPEC, i.e. the ability of not just Iraqi guerillas to determine oil prices, read it to understand this line: "...the reason the West isn’t in Sudan is because it is in Iraq." Speaking of China, a look beyond various rose-tinted scenarios at social conflict in China. (The claim that China's emerging middle class is supposed to be the foundation of a future democratic revolt, which is neoliberalism at its most basic Milton Friedman-ian, always buggered me.)

This is also the place to mention that I am nominated in the category "Weblog Most Deserving of Wider Recognition" at Fistful Of Euro's Satin Pajama Awards. Hitting the campaign trail is not my thing, nor do I expect to win, but I welcome the publicity that may hasten the arrival of the one who discovers My Sandal or My Gourd... (On the other hand, I'm peeved! I nominated my current pick for best political blog, Lenin's Tomb in two categories, another guy in a third - but for some dark reason, Fistful's judges barred it from competition...)


I am preaching the values of fact-checking (also as a reason the media is so crappy), something I 'm obliged to learn myself again & again at my own expense.

Today I revised my account of the route of the Teutons, and had to add a sentence on RAF withdrawal from Germany on the issue of the British MoD vs. wind power.

Furthermore, while not something I didn't knew at the time of the original posting, fair is fair: having blasted him throughout and after the US elections campaign, I shall give credit to John Kerry for being in the minority of Democratic Party senators voting against Condi Rice (noted tangentially in a post on Western policy towards Russia).