In yet another article in the Guardian criticising the elections, their veteran foreign correspondent
Jonathan Steele argues that Iraq’s illegitimate election did not justify the invasion, nor did it make occupation popular.
He makes a number of fair observations including the fact that there were few international observers due to security fears, suggestions of fraud. He examines the differing motivations of Iraqis. He says, for instance, that: “in Basra, many Shias treated it as historic, saying it marked the real end to Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Embarrassed and humiliated that foreigners rather than Iraqis had toppled him, they seemed proud that the election was an Iraqi show. I heard no one thanking Bush and Blair.”
He adds more generally that “Most gave mundane reasons for their vote:
patriotism, a sense of duty, concern over joblessness and power cuts, and the hope that the election might be a first step towards change. There was also a strong underlying feeling that having an elected government could hasten the restoration of sovereignty and an end to the occupation. This was certainly the view of those supporters of the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who decided that voting mattered more than the risk of legitimising the occupation.”
If these are mundane, I hate to think what profound would be!
LFIQ was amongst those who argued that the elections were a triumph in the circumstances but that does not mean one should be triumphalist. Iraq has only begun a process and there is a huge job of reconstruction ahead. It is one thing to be honest about shortcomings and errors and another if people then take this as a reason for not giving solidarity to Iraqis as they fashion their destiny after
decades of repression and misery. It’s a long hard road and may not succeed and our solidarity will be a relatively small part of this but it remains a priority.