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Dear all [This was written just before I saw Colin's latest mailing - the NYTimes article "U.S. Rejects Iraqi Plan to Hold Census by Summer", December 4, which is obviously highly relevant] I think I'm beginning to get a clearish view of what I want to see happening in Iraq. The main thing from an international viewpoint is to prevent the establishment of permanent US military bases that would be used to threaten Iraq's neighbours; and also to wrest Iraq's economy out of the US grasp. The only body with any hope of doing this would be an elected Iraqi Parliament. It is perfectly possible, as the utterly admirable Ayatollah Sistani has explained, to produce such a body quickly on the basis of the existing ration system. The objections I have seen are that some people were excluded from the ration system because of opposition to the regime - it doesn't include exiles - and it doesn't include the Kurds. The last point is really silly since the Kurds have already held what they claim are free and fair elections so they presumably have an electoral list. The exiles surely should not be allowed a say until they have indicated their firm intention to settle in Iraq (lists presumably exist of the exiles in neighbouring countries under the care of the UNHCR). And it should not be difficult to get some idea of who had been denied ration cards if only through an advertisement in the papers. A more serious objection is of course the position of the Sunnis vis a vis the Shi'i majority. But that, I think, is a bullet that has to be bitten if people are serious about democracy. In the absence of a constitution that would settle the relations between the different peoples concerned, however, it might be that this elected Parliament would not have full sovereignty. But if the CPA or something like it continues to exercise governmental functions the Iraqi Parliament should be able to veto its decisions. The present situation in which it is the US that exercises a veto over the Iraqis should be reversed. The present proposal is for a transitional authority that would replace the CPA in June 2004. Despite the weighted method of its appointment it should not be assumed that this would be authomatically pro-US (ie favourable to the establishment of the bases or the Americanisation of the economy) but it will have very little moral authority and, very importantly, it does not provide a political outlet for those who are at present willing to take up arms to oppose the US presence. This - the establishment of an alternative method of combat - should be an urgent priority for all those who want an end to the present state of murder and mayhem. The establishment of an elected Parliament strikes me as a much greater priority than the removal of American troops. For the moment it is no bad thing that the present disorder takes the form of a campaign directed against foreigners rather than a settling of scores among Iraqis (though there has probably been much more of that than we are told about). And it keeps the US forces bogged down and therefore as yet unable to turn their sights elsewhere. What has to be prevented above everything else is that it should become a civil war. That seems to me to be the clear danger of the new proposal for a paramilitary force drawn from the Kurds and SCIRI (not to mention Chalabi and Alawi). Perhaps we could hope that Sistani would prevent the Shia from indulging such a thing, but how can the Kurds be so stupid as to put themselves up as a hate target for the rest of the country? Are they just after revenge against Tikrit (and is Barzani really involved in this proposal? Or is it just Talabani?) Best wishes Peter _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk