The statement, delivered by Dr Muthanna al Dari, continued AMSI’s long-held stance against an electoral process borne from foreign occupation. He analysed the pitfalls of the latest elections specifically and the situation in Iraq more widely, before concluding by calling for a new and genuine national political settlement.
Al-Dharri said the latest round of elections “did not differ from those before it, from the perspective that it took place after a US-led international coalition military campaign, which led to chaos, destruction, death, and displacement.”
These elections were particularly controversial, he said, due to unprecedented sectarian nature of campaigning, the millions of refugees left cut out of the country let alone election process, the participation of the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias, stealing of voters’ identification, corruption, and – the latest of all these – disruption in the digital field, such as fake news and disinformation campaigns.
He continued by saying that this was simply a continuation of the same process that began in 2005 that has not improved any aspect of Iraqis lives. Rather it has worsened it day after day, and therefore the people are now convinced that elections do not change anything. al Dari said the current dispute between different parties was over factional and personal interests, and that there were not any big differences between the parties regarding their administrative capacity to rule.
This is because they all have the same sectarian, partisan and bias ideology and program – and this is before mentioning that the majority of them are working to entrench Iranian influence in Iraq.
Al-Dharri said the elections were rocked first by the people’s decision to boycott, and then by the elite’s decision to contest the results between themselves. They did so publicly, he said, by levelling accusations of vote-rigging at each other, which escalated into factions threatening each other, and in the end armed clashes in Kirkuk and other cities.
International observers have evidence and photos of large-scale irregularities, and, not content with rigging the elections once, some Iraqi MPs want a partial recount – to be carried out by hand, and it is not difficult to figure out whose hands will do the counting.
Al-Dharri said AMSI had drawn nine main points from the latest election. Firstly, turnout did not exceed 20 percent of those with the right to vote. Secondly, Iraqis boycotted the polls not out of laziness but out of conviction. Thirdly, the election monitor – which is controlled by the same parties running in the election – washed its dirty laundry in public as its members openly swapped accusations of vote-rigging.
Fourthly, the large-scale entry of the Hashd al-Shaabi hoards into parliament shows Iran intends to rule Iraq through militia rule, and that this is most likely future form of administration. Al-Hashd swapped “the uniforms of killing and displacement for the uniforms politics and legislation,” al-Dharri said.
Fifthly, the use of the army and police for political mobilization in favour of one group or another led to problems even within these corrupt groups. Sixthly, regional powers have failed to change the status quo inside Iraq and create a new situation through the current political process.
Seventh, political groups have splintered and divided amongst themselves in an attempt to reach the seats in parliament by any means. These include some Sunni personalities allying with forces they only recently claimed were killing the people, such as the Abadi alliance or the Hashd alliance.
Eighth, the entire election farce wasted the desires, money, and resources of the Iraqi people. Ninth, the AMSI statement emphasised the outrage that was the elections taking place while internally displaced people were still languishing in camps because their cities were still in ruins.
The statement concluded by saying that Iran and the US might disagree with each on other issues, but so far as Iraq is concerned they are united against it and its people. As such, any final outcome of elections will have been agreed on beforehand by Iran and the US and the only loser is the Iraqi people.
After the reading out the statement, al Dari made clear that AMSI had given the pro-political process factions plenty of time after the election to try and explain themselves to the people. He continued by saying that after the failed elections, Iraq was not back at square one, but in an even worse position.
The solution to Iraq’s woes could not be the current political process, he said, as it had given nothing to Iraq, the region, or the world. Even the UN reversed its congratulations to Iraq on holding elections, and is now calling on the government to investigate claims of election-rigging. Even if those who carried out and profited from the invasion of Iraq had pure intentions, they have achieved nothing, al Dari stressed.
Baghdad has become a city where interests are bought and sold without shame, he said. Al-Dharri concluded that the time has come for a new national political settlement – as the current process is opposed by both the people and popular political forces, and only supported by an increasingly isolated minority inside Baghdad’s Green Zone.