The following is an archived copy of a message sent to the CASI Analysis List run by Cambridge Solidarity with Iraq.
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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] Dear all This mailing list obviously lacks a clear focus to policy, equivalent to the original opposition to sanctions. This means that we don't really function as a group and what appears or doesn't appear on the list is rather arbitrary. There is really no reason for anyone outside ourselves to take much interest in what 'we' have to say. I suppose we all have different ideas as to what the focus of our attention should be and I have great sympathy with the view that we should keep the emphasis on sanctions, ie on the historical record of sanctions, the more so since the Americans are proposing as a new proconsul (or 'ambassador'. But note that they also like to call Paul Bremer an 'ambassador') John Negroponte who as US ambassador to the UN in the sanctions era is personally responsible for the state of misery in which the entire population in Iraq, outside the ruling elite, was forced to live for many years. However, in terms of immediate policy I would invite people to consider the following: 1) that 'sovereignty' should be defined as full control over the military and economic policy of the country (surely an uncontroversial definition!) and that consequently nothing that does not transfer such control to an Iraqi government can be described as a transfer of sovereignty. 2) that only a democratically elected assembly can be regarded as representative of the Iraqi people 3) that until real sovereignty is handed over to a democratically elected government, Iraq should be regarded legally as an occupied country and its functional authority subject to all the usual legal restrictions of an occupying force. I develope this case in the following letter addressed to Martin Kettle of The Guardian Best wishes Peter www.politicsandtheology.co.uk Dear Martin Kettle I have only just read your interesting article 'There is no alternative to Tony Blair's policy on Iraq' (Guardian, 14th April). In it you argue that we are now involved, like it or not, in a conflict between 'freedom' and 'fundamentalism' and we have to support the side of freedom. The policy of handover of sovereignty on June 30th is the only possible option. Unfortunately, neither 'freedom' nor any real handover of sovereignty on June 30th are on offer and, as Salem Lone pointed out in his article just beside your own, the best policy for confronting the fundamentalists - the establishment of a democratically elected Iraqi assembly (whether it possessed sovereign powers or not) has been refused by the United States administration. The Americans are in the process of building fourteen permanent military bases in Iraq. They have closed their bases in Saudi Arabia on the clear assumption that Iraq would be freely available to them. It is difficult to imagine that these bases will come under the sovereign control of any Iraqi government in the foreseeable future. The existing interim constitution places the Iraqi army and police force under US control. Control over the armed forces existing within the country is normally considered the most fundamental defining characteristic of sovereignty, but that is not what is gong to be handed over on June 30th. The seriousness of this becomes all the more obvious when we remember that a section of American opinion very close to the present administration sees the invasion of Iraq as only the second phase of a policy which will have to continue with the invasions of Iran and Syria. The interim constitution also prevents the 'sovereign' Iraqi government after June 30th from changing any legislation imposed by the current administration, including that which has opened the whole Iraqi economy to unrestricted foreign purchase. At present this has been something of a dead letter because under international law the occupying force has no right to sell the assets of an occupied nation. Under the circumstances the legal title of any purchaser would be very vulnerable. This is why the US government is anxious to end not the occupation but the legal status of occupation. The desire for closer involvement of the United Nations is a desire that the UN Security Council pass a resolution declaring that the occupation has ended, thus permitting the sale of Iraqi assets prior to the establishment of a properly elected Iraqi government. Which may not be possible even by the projected date of January 2005. A democratic government can only come into existence once a constitution has been agreed. But the interim constitution (which gives any three provinces a right of veto) has given a right of veto over the final constitution - and hence over the appearance of a democratically elected government - to the Kurds. In this way, the thorniest problem facing any government in Iraq - the Kurdish demand for an autonomous state which would include Kirkuk and Mosul - has been raised as a barrier to the establishment of democratic government. It is this more than anything else which has roused the anger of the Shi'ite leadership and therefore inhibited them from opposing the forces of Moqtada al-Sadr. Both Ayatollah al-Sistani and the leadership of the Supreme Council for the Revolution in Iraq (which is represented on the Iraqi Governing Council) are natural enemies of Moqtada, but they have both declared that his demands are just. It should never be forgotten that the US government have already tried to pretend that the existing Iraqi Governing Council was a sovereign government. Hence the name and the fact that it comes armed with 'ministries' and 'ministers' (including ministries of foreign affairs and, recently, defence!). This was done in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Security Council to end the 'occupation' status, without actually ending the occupation. It would have been infinitely better had the occupying force behaved openly as an occupying force, using a differently named IGC as an advisory board that would have given voice to Iraqi concerns and discontents. It would have been better for the individuals concerned, who could have appeared as representatives of the Iraqi people rather than as agents of the occupation. June 30th is a second attempt at exactly the same policy and we can only hope that, once again, it will not succeed, that the British and Americans will not get the resolution they want out of the Security Council. They should instead be obliged to exercise direct sovereignty as an occupying power, under the restrictions imposed on occupying forces by International law, until handing over to a democratically elected and fully sovereign Iraqi government, as advocated by al-Sistani. 'Fundamentalism' flourishes in war conditions. It appeals to the most determined, militant sections of the society, those motivated by convictions strong enough to enable them to kill and to die for a cause (it is doubtful if European fascism could have been defeated without the support of European Communism). The much touted 'silent majority' can only assert itself under conditions of a relatively stable democracy. By refusing democracy in Iraq with a view to maintaining its own military and economic control, the occupying power has, deliberately or not, strengthened the power of 'fundamentalism'. Yours sincerely Peter Brooke Brecon, Wales www.politicsandtheology.co.uk _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk