Free and fair early elections are Iraq’s last chance

A united front at home and abroad is needed to push for change.
Thursday 07/01/2021
Iraqi police keep watch during a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Baghdad on December 21, 2020. (AFP)
Iraqi police keep watch during a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Baghdad on December 21, 2020. (AFP)

“Iraq faces enormous challenges and important entitlements, most notably early and hopefully fair elections, away from fraud or manipulation of the will of the Iraqis as they choose their representatives, and initiate reforms, strengthen their security services, and control illegal weapons,” said President Barham Salih.

Two types of Iraqis are eager to end illegal weapons, achieve security and stability and restore the rule of law.

The first type includes millions of Iraqis inside the country, especially those who do not belong to pro-government parties and militias, have not been involved in assassinations, embezzlement, smuggling, kidnapping, importing smuggled goods or spoiled food and medicine and have not been agents of foreign powers.

They are the people most eager to support any person, party or group that can relieve them of at least some of the current injustices, restore to them their homeland safe and sound and bring them a normal life, like the rest of the people of neighbouring countries, those of the region and the rest of the world.

The second type includes millions of Iraqi expatriates worldwide, especially in Europe and North and South America.

This is because the comfort of life and the sweet taste of security, justice and freedom in their host countries increase their sorrow over their own country, and adds to their grief for their people who have been deprived of the most basic human rights by the corrupt ruling cliques. They have since grown more determined to do everything they can to help their people get rid of the pain they suffer and return to life again.

The influential, important and far-reaching ties established by these Iraqi expatriates with the American and European decision-making quarters will help the just cause of their country and provide it with invaluable support.

Relying on Iraqis at home and abroad, if the appropriate support means and good intentions are there, will make a broad popular front that is strong and effective possible to emerge. This front can achieve much of what the pessimists have said would be difficult, if not impossible.

This front must have a real effective role in any upcoming elections in order to shape an influential parliamentary force capable of imposing change and its leaders, no matter the sacrifices needed.

Perhaps this is what scares the Shia barons, the parasitic Sunni and Kurdish mercenary parties and groups living off its corruption and whose existence depends on the continuation of the corrupt situation as it is.

They know, more than others, that they will not be able to retain the corrupt system’s current tyrannical hegemony over the government, parliament, judiciary, armed forces, trade, economy and finance circles, after all the changes brought about by the youth uprising in the balance of real power represented by the Iraqi street, whether in the central and southern provinces or in Iraqi Kurdistan, especially after the recent Sulaymaniyah youth uprising.

The Nuri al-Maliki camp spoke about this in the language of its allies in the quota system. Maliki emphasised that “talking about early elections is an illusion,” indicating that “the willingness of the government and the election commission is unclear about early elections,” that “there is a security chaos in the southern provinces, especially in Dhi Qar, ”and that“ the government’s talk about holding early elections is just to please the street, and there is no possible implementation on the ground. ”

A popular front of millions of Iraqi patriots must first emerge at home and abroad — now and not tomorrow — to put pressure on the presidency, the government, the parliament, the army, the armed forces, the judiciary and the electoral commission to ensure that these elections are held on the date decided by the prime minister on June 6, and to provide full protection for polling stations, prevent tampering or fraud and stop illegal weapons from threatening the lives of voters and affecting their choices.

The front uniting the enemies of the Iraqi people is broad and powerful. But after the events of October 2019, and the continuing popular Iraqi anger in Baghdad and other provinces, and with the tightening of the economic and military siege on the Iranian regime, which is the sponsor of security, political and economic chaos, this front has been shaken and lost its patience and reason. It is looking for a way out of its people-backed prison at the local, regional and international levels. And will not be able to find such a way out.

Anyone who kills, steals or betrays their homeland and its people is afraid of the return of a strong and unified state, as well as its judiciary, as it breaks free of the influence of the quota system parties and their militias, and will do everything in their power to stop the inevitable change.

In light of these favourable circumstances, the upcoming early elections are the only and last stage of rescue for the Iraqi people, if there is enough popular and governmental will to get things under control and protect elections from manipulation, fraud and war.

With reason, wisdom and realism, it should be recognised that the Iraqi people who aspire to real change and achieving a life of security, freedom, justice and prosperity do not have missiles to fight the militias’ rockets, silencer-equipped guns to punish theirs or money to besiege their money. The only weapon the people have is the elections that will enable them to impose their will on those who have hijacked it.

However, without the birth of this united, conscious and organised front, and without ensuring the safety of the ballot box, it will be the duty of the Iraqis, all Iraqis, at home and abroad together, to boycott these elections completely and declare the homeland a colonised, infested place. It will then have to strive by all means to free the country from the grip of terrorism, occupation and rape.