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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] Dear friends, Please find below info. re. the new Voices campaign postcard ('Stop Killing Iraqis, End the Occupation'), a new briefing ('Enemies of Democracy') and a list of upcoming events -a more complete version of which will be available on the web-site shortly. PLEASE NOTE that the talk with CPT member Maxine Nash, which had been scheduled to take place on the 11th at the Quaker International Centre has had to be cancelled - her funding to come to the UK fell through. However former Voices delegate Jo Baker - who has also just returned from Iraq - will be speaking at an event on the 12th (see list of events below) Best wishes, Gabriel voices uk www.voicesuk.org ****************************** [A] New campaign postcard: 'Stop Killing Iraqis, End the Occupation' [B] New Voices briefing: 'Enemies of Democracy' [C] Upcoming Iraq-related events [A] NEW CAMPAIGN POSTCARD Voices has produced a new campaign postcard to Tony Blair, entitled 'Stop Killing Iraqis, End the Occupation' (see text below). Copies are available FREE (though donations are always appreciated!) from the Voices office: email@example.com. Ideal for stalls, mailings etc... Please specify how many you want! TEXT BEGINS The US and UK governments claim that on 30 June they will hand over ‘sovereignty’ to a so-called Iraqi Interim Government (IIG), ‘ending’ the occupation. In reality: * The US/UK military occupation of Iraq will continue ‘indefinitely’ (Wash. Post, 22 April) and the US will remain in control of the Iraqi army * The IIG will be a selected - not elected - body with no democratic mandate. It is not allowed to reverse any of the laws – including the illegal privatisation measures - that the occupying powers have passed. * The deadline for the first election is not until 31 Jan 2005 - if it ever materialises. * The US will simply be moving to an “embassy”, with 1700 staff and an annual budget of $1bn, where ‘most power will reside’ (AP, 21 March) Since the occupation will continue, so will the abuses identified by Amnesty International (March 2004): civilians shot dead; arbitrary arrests and indefinite detention without charge; house demolitions and collective punishment; and the torture and ill-treatment of detainees – a pattern that has dramatically escalated with the killing, by US forces, of hundreds of Iraqis in Fallujah, many of whom were civilians (Guardian, 12 April). I demand that US and British forces stop killing Iraqis and end their military occupation of Iraq. TEXT ENDS ********************************** [B] ENEMIES OF DEMOCRACY A Voices in the Wilderness UK briefing 7th May 2004 On 6 April – the same day that US war planes fired rockets into residential districts in Fallujah ‘killing 26 Iraqis, including women and children’ (Guardian, 7 April) and British troops killed 15 Iraqis in Amara (Times, 7 April) – Tony Blair denounced the ‘people who want to subvert the path of Iraq towards a proper democracy’ (Independent, 7 April). A few days later George Bush joined him, railing against the ‘enemies of democracy’ (AP, 11 April). Both men neglected to mention that they themselves were the main culprits in this regard. Since February US plans for Iraq’s political future have changed once again but the resistance to meaningful, free elections any time soon has remained a constant. At stake is the ability to control a major part of the regions’ incomparable energy reserves, as well as US plans to privatise Iraq’s economy and establish a permanent military foothold in the country – matters the US clearly regards as far too important to be left to Iraqis. Interestingly Jay Garner, the first US civilian administrator for Iraq, ‘says he fell out with the Bush circle [after he called for swift and] free elections and rejected an imposed programme of privatisation’ (Guardian, 18 March 2004). Garner was replaced by Paul Bremer in May 2003 and the US imposed new laws permitting the privatisation of Iraq four months later (see voices briefing Iraq for Sale for details, available on-line at http://www.voices.netuxo.co.uk/library/briefing_oct2003.html). THE DILEMMA ‘[T]he dilemma facing the US … [is] the desire to control Iraq’s political transition while making it appear that it is driven by Iraqis,’ the FT’s Middle East editor, Roula Khalaf, has observed. ‘In reality the Bush administration cannot afford to let Iraqis exercise a free choice at this time’, she notes (17 January). Whilst these simple truths are beyond the pale of respectable discussion here in the UK – where it is an article of faith that we are desperately struggling to promote freedom and democracy in Iraq – they appear to be well understood on the ground in Iraq. Thus a Baghdad poll last September found that only 5% of those polled believed the US invaded Iraq ‘to assist the Iraqi people’ and only 1% believed it was to establish democracy - whilst 43% of respondents believed that the US/UK had invaded primarily “to rob Iraq's oil.” (see JNV briefing The Hunger for Democracy for more details, available on-line at http://www.j-n-v.org/AW_briefings/JNV_briefing050.htm ). ‘WHAT DO WE DO?’ The US Government’s fundamental problem was neatly formulated by Brent Scrowcroft, National Security Adviser under Bush Snr: “What’s going to happen the first time we hold an election in Iraq, and it turns out the radicals win?”, he asked. “What do we do? We’re surely not going to let them take over’ (NYT, 11 April 2003). Here, of course, ‘radical’ must be understood in its technical sense – basically, anyone insufficiently subservient to US power. THE ROLE OF THE EMBASSY Scowcroft’s question found a recent echo in the testimony of US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Marc Grossman, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ‘Asked whether anti-American candidates would be allowed to run [in future elections in Iraq], Grossman responded: “That’s why we’re going to have an embassy there, and it’s going to have a lot of people and an ambassador. We have to make our views known in the way that we do around the world”’ (NYT, 23 April) – an answer very far from the simple ‘yes’ that a commitment to meaningful elections would require. Likewise, asked what the Bush administration would do “if they [ie. Iraqis] start doing things that are in contradiction to what American foreign policy might be,” Grossman again responded that this is “why we want to have an American ambassador in Iraq.’ (NYT, 23 April) – a response the Independent described as ‘cryptic’, though its import will be abundantly clear to millions across the globe from Iran to Brazil, where US Embassies’ coup-fomenting tendencies are well-known. SHAM SOVEREIGNTY Instead of handing over nominal power to a group of Iraqis selected by a completely undemocratic system of regional caucuses (the previous plan), the same sham ‘sovereignty’ will now be transferred to an Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) chosen by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi ‘in consultation with the U.S. occupation authority, the [US-appointed] Governing Council and other institutions’ (WP, 15 April). Meanwhile the US/UK military occupation will continue and real power will remain in the hands of the US military and a new US “embassy”, initially housed – fittingly - in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces (see voices briefing Why the Occupation Isn’t Ending for more details, available on-line at www.voicesuk.org) – facts which will almost certainly render any form of meaningful elections impossible. DEMONSTRATION ELECTIONS In a survey of the June 1966 ‘demonstration election’ in the US-occupied Dominican Republic, Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead note that, ‘by removing history from the analysis … a free and fair election is defined as one in which people are allowed (or are forced) to vote, are not obviously coerced in casting their votes, and the ballot boxes are not stuffed. But these conditions can be met in elections which are meaningless in the sense of reflecting democratic choices. If massive power has been deployed the parameters of an election shift and the choices no longer reflect indigenous choices alone’ (Demonstration Elections: US-staged elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador, South End Press, 1984). Thus in the case of Iraq it had been estimated that the movement led by Moqtadr al-Sadr would receive a third of the vote in Shi’ite areas if elections were held (see Voices UK newsletter #35, page 5, available on-line at www.voicesuk.org) – but of course this will not happen if, for example, this movement is driven underground by US military power. In the case of the Domincan Republic Herman and Brodhead note that ‘the invasion-occupation made the United States a huge factor in Dominican politics.’ The US’ opponent Juan Bosch – the democratically elected president, deposed by a military coup, a popular revolt to reinstate who precipitated the US invasion - ‘could not promise voters that, if re-elected, he would not be removed by a further coup … nor could he promise that he could bargain effectively with the invader toward the end of occupation or economic aid.’ The parallels in today’s Iraq should be clear. THE INTERIM CONSTITUTION The appointment of the IIG is the first step on a political roadmap outlined in the so-called Iraqi Interim Constitution (IIC) – a March 2004 document drafted under close US supervision, signed by the US-appointed Governing Council and hailed by George as ‘a historic milestone in the Iraqi people's long journey from tyranny and violence to liberty and peace.’ Many ordinary Iraqis were less exultant about its contents. Indeed, no sooner had it been signed than an edict from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani – Iraq’s most senior Shi’ite cleric – ‘questioning the legitimacy of the interim constitution’ unleashed ‘a vociferous grass-roots campaign’ to ‘amend the constitution or discard it’, led by Sistani’s ‘vast network of … mosques, religious centres, foundations and community organisations’ (WP, 30 March). Meanwhile ‘Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Taqi al-Modaresi, whose views are respected but commands a much smaller following than al-Sistani, said … that the interim charter's adoption of a federalist system would be “a time bomb that will spark a civil war in Iraq if it goes off”’ (CBSNews.com, 10 March). ‘USELESS’ ELECTIONS In a letter to UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, ‘Sistani's warnings … were stark. The interim constitution, he said, “enjoys no support among most of the Iraqi people,” — meaning the Shiites who account for about 60 percent of the 25 million people — and “confiscates the rights” of the national assembly that is scheduled to be elected by Jan. 31 next year to draw up a permanent constitution. Because of that, he said, the elections he has persistently demanded — for the assembly, for the constitution it will draw up, and ultimately for a permanent government — “become useless.”’ (NYT, 23 March). In the same letter Sistani explained that ‘unless the United Nations rejects the constitution, he would boycott a UN team expected to visit Iraq soon to advise on forming an interim government’ (Reuters, 22 March). DANGEROUS CONSEQUENCES. ‘“The [Shi’ite] religious establishment fears the occupation authorities will work to include this law in a new UN resolution to give it international legitimacy,” [Sistani] wrote. “We warn that any such step will not be acceptable to the majority of Iraqis and will have dangerous consequences”’ (Reuters, 22 March). Earlier this year one of Sistani’s representatives threatened ‘protests and strikes and civil disobedience if [the US] insists on its … plans to design the country’s politics for its own interests’ (AFP, 16 Jan) Meanwhile tens of thousands of signatures were collected for a petition ‘denouncing the constitution’ – indeed, one of Sistani’s 200 religious representatives in Baghdad, Sheikh Sahib Abdullah Warwar Qureishi, told the Post that in a single week his students and activists had collected ‘at least 6,000 petitions with 90,000 signatures’ (WP, 30 March). PUTTING DEMOCRACY ON HOLD At the heart of the matter, the Post explained, was the ‘question [of] who would decide Iraq's political future and under what authority.’ Sistani has consistently demanded one-person-one-vote elections, whilst the US and Britain have done everything in their power to postpone these - ‘put[ting] democracy on hold until it can be safely managed’ in the words of Salim Lone, director of communications for the UN in Iraq until Autumn 2003 (Guardian, 13 April). The Governing Council “doesn't represent the majority of the people”, Qureishi told the Post. ‘“They must represent themselves … The coalition forces didn't come for your interests or my interests, not at all. The solution is for you to vote, for me to vote, for him to vote," he said, pointing to those gathered. “That's the solution.”’ [The above article is taken from the 35th Voices in the Wilderness UK newsletter. Copies of the newsletter can be obtained from the Voices office: firstname.lastname@example.org] ******************************* [C] UPCOMING EVENTS [Please note that a more complete list of events will be available on the web-site shortly: www.voicesuk.org] 11 May – 27 May. Talks by Ewa Jasiewicz, activist recently returned from Iraq. 11 May, Tavistock. 7.30pm. Org. by Tavistock STWC. 01822 615 960 17 May, Leeds Civic Hall. 6.30pm. Org. by Leeds STWC. 07771 863 611 19 May, Orpington. Petts Wood Village Hall. 7.30pm. Org. by Orpington WILPF. 01689 602 748 26 May, Norwich Trades Council, Norwich friends Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane. 7.30pm. 01362 860 826 27 May, Brighton Cowley Club, London Road. 7pm. 01273 696104 14 June, Barnsley. Barnsley Library. 7pm. Org. by Barnsley STW. email@example.com 12 May, London. Press launch of ‘Child Victims of War.’ With former voices delegate Joanne Baker (who was in Iraq in April) and Caroline Lucas MEP. House of Commons, 12 noon. Contact 0208 567 4237 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 12 May, London. Public meeting. Committee Room 9, House of Commons, 7.30pm. Organised by Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation. 18 May, London. Give George Bush Senior the Reception He Deserves. Protest outside fundraiser by George Bush Senior for his son's re-election campaign. Landmark Hotel, 222 Marylebone Road, London NW1, (nearest tube Marylebone Road). 4.30 – 6.30pm. 19 May, London. Protest outside Amec AGM. Contact voices for more info: email@example.com 19 May, London. Court appearance of activists arrested for protesting inside Iraq business conference. Highbury magistrates court, Holloway Road, from 10am. Contact 07749 421 576 for details. 19 May, London. Lecture by Professor Noam Chomsky. Logan Hall, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1. 5.30pm. Free admission. No reservations. 22 May, Liverpool. Lecture by Noam Chomsky on Iraq. Liverpool Academy, University of Liverpool, 7.30pm. Tickets from The Guild Card and Ticket Shop, Mountford Hall. 29 May, Edinburgh. Oil, war and climate change: dismantling the oil economy. Day of speakers and workshops. Teviot Row House, Bristo Square. 10.15am – 6pm. £5/£3. Org. by SEAD. www.sead.org.uk. 0131 622 2297. 5 June, London. Nonviolent Direct Action (NVDA) and Media Skills training workshops. A day of intensive practical workshops on NVDA, the law and media work to prepare for the week of action at the end of June and beyond. With the Oxford Seeds of Change collective and voices former press officer Richard Byrne. London Action Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate Street, E1 (nearest tube Aldgate East). NVDA: 11am – 4pm. Media: 4.30 – 6.30pm. 9 June, London. Public meeting with Tariq Ali, Jeremy Hardy, Haifa Zangana and Ewa Jasiewicz. Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square, London WC1 (off Tottenham Court Road), 7.30pm. Organised by Iraq Occupation Focus. _______________________________________ 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