[Marxism] War against the phony election: a battle aim that strengthens the occupation

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Dec 20 07:47:28 MST 2004


[Translated from *Libération* (Paris)] 

World 

ON HAIFA STREET, SUNNIS RULE By Florence Aubenas 

* Members of the electoral commission executed in Baghdad ** 

Libération (Paris) December 20, 2004 

http://www.liberation.com/page.php?Article=262866 

BAGHDAD -- It’s almost 9 o’clock yesterday morning, the moment when
workers start to light the stoves in the tiny fast-food shops of Haifa
Street, on Baghdad’s west bank.  Nearby, a police car is already
burning.  No one pays attention to that now.  For several months the
black flag stamped with a yellow circle has been waving from the
lampposts -- the banner of Al-Qaeda-Al-Jihad (‘the base of holy war’),
an extremist Sunni group.  Haifa Street, in the Karkh district of
Baghdad, has become one of its territories. In the name of the
“resistance to American occupation,” it rules there, through attacks and
kidnappings. 

Up in Talai [or Tala’a] Square, “six men in plainclothes are directing
traffic,” says a cook in one of the fast-food shops.  They stop only one
car: the one carrying five members of Karkh’s electoral office, charged
at the local level with preparing the Jan. 30 parliamentary vote.  In
the car, they’re all Shiites:  that community, which makes up a majority
of the country, is impatiently awaiting the vote, after having been
excluded from power by Saddam Hussein to the particular benefit of a
Sunni minority.  To give it every chance of victory, the Shiites have
succeeded in the tour de force of presenting a single united list of
candidates.  On the other hand, just about everywhere in Iraq leaders of
Sunni extremist groups, which control some cities and certain districts,
have announced they’ll do everything to prevent the vote as long as the
Americans have not left the country. 

The electoral campaign has scarcely begun, but already last week the
little electoral office in the Karkh district of Baghdad was assaulted
and seized. Net result:  four dead.  The local team then decided to move
to a site further away but safer, to which a special car would drive
them every morning.  In Haifa Street, the agents directing traffic now
approach the commission’s car. They’re carrying automatic weapons.  Two
of the representatives manage to run away, protected by one bodyguard.
Another bodyguard is gunned down.  “The last two were seized, dragged
into the middle of the street,” a witness recounts.  “They were forced
to their knees and executed.  With no hurry.” People who were crossing
the street keep going, just making a detour. 

Around noon, a candidate on the Shiite electoral list says that he’s
started checking off the days.  “I hope that we’ll be able to last till
the day of the vote:  it’s a bloody countdown they’re making us carry
out.  How many deaths a day?”  “They intend to show us they have quite a
reach and can strike where they want, when they want,” says a member of
the electoral commission.

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