Ten Years After US Invasion, 'Politics of Death' Not 'Democracy' in Iraq
Sold to the US public with noble promises of "liberation" and "democracy," the invasion of Iraq instead delivered what Agence France-Presse described on Tuesday as the "politics of death."
Sectarian violence and political assassinations have been on the rise ahead of upcoming elections and March, which also marked the tenth anniversary of the US bombardment and ground war, was the deadliest month since summer of last year.
On Monday, as Al-Jazeera reports, a suicide bomber blew up a tanker truck at police headquarters in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, killing nine people and wounding 11 people.
On Tuesday, a group of gunmen killed three people at an gas field operation in Anbar province. Last week, a series of bombings left many others dead and wounded. And the week before that, dozens were killed in a similar string of attacks.
As AFP reports, 11 candidates standing for elections scheduled for April 20th have been killed in recent months. The latest, Salah al-Obeidi, was gunned down in his office by masked assailants.
His death has contributed to growing mistrust between Iraq's Sunni community and the Shiite-led authorities. All 11 candidates killed have been Sunni, six of them Iraqiya members, fostering a belief that the security forces pay less attention to protecting Sunnis.
Provinces in Iraq's north and west, all predominantly Sunni, have already been roiled by months of protests, the minority community alleging that it is disproportionately targeted by anti-terror laws and rules barring those with links to Saddam's regime from participating in public life.
And at the highest levels of government, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is Shiite, is locked in a long-running spat with his erstwhile government partners, particularly members of Iraqiya who charge him with consolidating control of the security forces and marginalising Sunnis.
As many observers have commented, the legacy of the US invasion is a destroyed Iraq. As Sami Ramadani, an Iraqi living in exile in the UK, recently asked: "And what of democracy, supposedly the point of it all?" He answered:
The US-led occupying authorities nurtured a "political process" and a constitution designed to sow sectarian and ethnic discord. Having failed to crush the resistance to direct occupation, they resorted to divide-and-rule to keep their foothold in Iraq. Using torture, sectarian death squads and billions of dollars, the occupation has succeeded in weakening the social fabric and elevating a corrupt ruling class that gets richer by the day, salivating at the prospect of acquiring a bigger share of Iraq's natural resources, which are mostly mortgaged to foreign oil companies and construction firms.
Warring sectarian and ethnic forces, either allied to or fearing US influence, dominate the dysfunctional and corrupt Iraqi state institutions, but the US embassy in Baghdad – the biggest in the world – still calls the shots. Iraq is not really a sovereign state, languishing under the punitive Chapter VII of the UN charter.
As for the recently murdered political hopeful al-Obeidi? One mourner at his funeral told AFP: "If he continued in politics, we thought that Salah would become prime minister one day."
But, like hundreds of thousands of others who lost their lives during the US invasion and its violent and ongoing aftermath, it was not to be.