[Marxism] Shia response to assassination attempt highlights pre-election conflict with Shia

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Dec 28 09:50:43 MST 2004

Following these comments is a report from Liberation (Paris daily) on a
Shia mobilization in Baghdad against an assassination attempt which they
attribute to Sunni political forces.  This stance marks  a shift.
Previously, such actions, no matter who was directly responsible, were
used to condemn the US occupation as the bringer of disorder and
division. Now they are being utilized to harden religious lines in the
runup to the elections.
The apparent shift among leading Sunni-based resistance groups toward
"stopping the elections" plays into US hands,  helping Washington's
attempt to break the isolation of the occupation by fomenting a civil
war to provide support in Iraq and international legitimacy.  'The
Shiite bourgeois leadership's decision to make a drvie to establish a
national government through the colonial elections, including
collaborating so far with Allawi's thugs and killers, is playing the
same role.
The current focus represents a certain panic about the prospect of
"Shia domination", as well as layers of the Sunni population who
benefitted from the pre-occupation order.  Since the setting up of
colonial Iraq, sponsored by British imperialism which imposed the Sunni
Hashemite monarchy, the Sunni political, religious, and business elite
have dominated the political arena (not just under Saddam, as this
article suggests). 
Now that situation has been overturned, in the aftermath  of the US
invasion, the collapse of the old political structure, and the inability
of Washington to create a new political structure to replace it.  The
Shia are organized and armed on a broad scale, and their militias
control many cities and regions. The formerly disfranchised religious
majority of the Arab population now cannot be pushed back into its old
The chaos and ruin that has followed the US occupation also heightens
fear and insecurity across the board -- with the collapse of medical
care, education, employment,  and social security in all forms.  Adding
to the chaos is  the "privatization" of  everything  and the replacement
of an Arab-led society with domination by US companies that focus on
plunder and export of capital in the name of "construction.".

The elections  cannot re-establish Sunni domination.  Nor can they deal
a death blow to this domination to the extent that elements of it still
exist. Such issues are settled in struggle, not by elections pasted
together by imperialist scam artists. The vote will not truly create or
deal a death blow to anything.  But they have served very well, for the
time being, to heighten divisions in the Arab nation in Iraq.  In that
sense, the conflict over the elections is tending to strengthen the hand
of the imperialists.  The heroic battle of Fallujah highlighted the
ability of the resistance, especially to the extent that it can act in
the name of the entire nation, to turn military setbacks into political
victories.  But in the battle over the elections, tactical military
successes can become political setbacks.
But I think Washington is not playing as  strong a hand here as some of
these press accounts indicate.  They have shown no capacity to bring
order or progress to Iraq.  They are plundering the country and
stripping it of its resources.  The troops brought growing disorder in
their train, destroying the institutions that existed and then simply
"privatising" the disorder for purposes of  theft by US and related big
business.  The overwhelming mass of the Shia population, as well as the
Sunnis, want the troops out. No popular Shia leader can yet drop the
call for an end to the US occupation.  In this context, events after the
latest wave of electoral fever is over will tend  to foster broader
conflict across the board with the occupation, and tend to isolate those
who politically collaborate with them, Shia or Sunni, and compel the two
communities to reach out to each other.
There is no reason to think the upcoming election in Iraq will transform
the basic situation there -- a people oppressed across the board by an
imperialist ocupation -- than there was to think that the 2004 election
in the US could or would transform the political situation in that
The greatest challenge the US faces is still the fact that Iraqi society
is driven to resist them in order to preserve what remains of the
country's heritage and achievements, and to gain the power to begin
moving forward again.
Fred Feldman

[Translated from *Libération* (Paris)]


By Florence Aubenas

Libération (Paris)
December 28, 2004


BAGHDAD -- The first group arrives yesterday toward the end of the
About fifty, all men, heads wrapped in keffiyahs.  They are chanting:
Aziz Hakim, we've come to give our blood for you."  Others come from a
side street in the back.  "Give us orders, Abdel Aziz, we shall obey
Several hundred gather around the office of Abdel Aziz Hakim, who is
up the Shiite coalition's list, which is among the favorites in
election.  There, in front of a fine villa in one of Baghdad's handsome 
districts that was Tariq Aziz's residence in the era of Saddam Hussein,
suicide car bomber rammed into a security post yesterday morning.  Four
died, as well as nine people in vehicles who were killed when fire
spread into 
one of the traffic jams that always tie up every street in Baghdad.

"Our leader was far inside the villa," says one of Hakim's supporters.
kamikaze knew he had no chance of reaching him.  He wanted to send a
withdraw from the elections or we'll really strike."  For the past ten
attacks have been increasing against the Shiite community, which makes
up a 
majority of Iraq's population and which is determined to see the
through:  it hopes it will allow Shiites to win the recognition always
them by Saddam's regime, which favored the clans of the Sunni minority.

As if to characterize the various positions being taken in electoral
race, the 
Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), the leading Sunni group, announced yesterday
it was withdrawing from the election.  For months the small Sunni
has been taking more and more radical positions against American
and different armed groups now monopolize the political stage in the
name of 
the "resistance."  Only the IIP continued to play bumper cars with the 
coalition forces, participating in the various governments named by 
Washington.  This time, it had decided to wage an election campaign
the guerrilla fighters' calls to boycott the vote so long as the
were still in Iraq.  "We think that the political path should be tried
to the 
end," said Mohsen Abdel Hamid, the IIP's leader.  A few days ago, Mohsen
received a letter containing a death threat from the Consultative
Council of 
the Mujahideen, the clandestine body grouping the various armed Sunni

In the past, Hamid has said that in at least six of Iraq's 18 provinces 
security conditions for voting are inadequate, and he has been asking
for a 
delay of six months.  He's not alone.  On the sidelines, several Iraqi 
ministers of all stripes desire the same thing.  In front of the iron
gate of 
Shiite leader Abdel Aziz Hakim's villa yesterday a dense crowd are
"Elections, elections, we too will die so that you may take place."

Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University

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