Interview with Issam Shukri
Maryam Namazie: We have heard that Bush has said he would grudgingly accept Islamic rule in Iraq if it were the result of open and fair elections. Would you accept an Islamic Iraq?
Issam Shukri: Actually No. We will not agree on an Islamic rule no matter what process it comes through. The election process Bush is referring to is, in my view, illegitimate. The country is currently occupied by the US; its government was created under the supervision of the US and almost run by the US. This government is composed of the most backward elements of Iraqi society, mainly the Islamists, the nationalists, some tribal leaders, and the remnants of the Ba’ath regime. This government cannot run so-called free, open, and fair elections. Under these circumstances, the elections are illegal. I want to stress the point that no matter what, Islam should not be allowed to rule in Iraq. Political Islam is an inhumane movement, it’s bloody, misogynist, and brutal; in general, it is against humanity. If it were to rule Iraq, it would create another human tragedy. In fact, Bush would favour the pro-US Islamists because he wants to maintain the role of a US-friendly political Islam in the Middle East in the name of keeping the egalitarian and secular people in check, including communists, women, workers and so on. Islam comes in handy for the US right-wing.
Maryam Namazie: Some might say and Bush has said that democracy is democracy and "If that's what the people choose, that's what the people choose"; what would you say to that?
Issam Shukri: I can’t really understand how these elections could be free in general terms. You cannot have free elections when society at large is enslaved!! I do know, however, that the people of Iraq will never choose Islamists if they were living in a free society. In these circumstances like the ones Iraqis are living under right now in the year 2004, Iraqis are living under very hard conditions; they are suffering due to the US occupation and its dark scenario and the unleashing of backward forces in Iraq. This is a suffocated and ailing society. The people of Iraq crave security, bread and normality of life. Under such conditions, the US is actually free to present its alternative and impose it on the people of Iraq. But the Iraqis are not free at all to reject it. There isn’t much choice for them. Despite this grim situation, I think they will not favour backward, misogynist Islamists.
Maryam Namazie: Recently a US-financed poll was conducted by the International Republican Institute. They found that if there were elections today in Iraq, the Iraqi people would vote and give a majority share to the Islamists. Does not that contradict what you were saying?
Issam Shukri: Polls are not a reliable source to check the political inclination of a certain society. I think it is itself a tool for sometimes intimidation and most times manipulation as the questions are always put in a certain way or the answers are always confined to Yes or No. This also happens in the United States. They say: polls suggest Bush is ahead of Kerry in this state or that state, so that reluctant voters or undecided voters will start to incline towards Bush. If I want to comment on the statistics in this poll then my observation would be: If it is true that Iraqis want Islamists then why did they force the Islamists in the Governing Council - about 6 months ago - to take back their infamous proposal which they called resolution 137, which aimed at replacing the current family law with an Islamic one in Iraq?!. Islam in Iraq is not favourable. The people of Iraq do not want Islam. Iraqi society by no means could be described as Islamic, their life style, their aspirations are all in stark contrast to Islamic values. Women especially despise Islamic teachings and hate being treated as second or third class citizens. I think another factor for such distorted results is the weakness generally of the Left movement in Iraq. The people of Iraq are trapped between the USA and political Islam. People are left to choose between for instance Ayad Allawi, the phoney secularist, on the one side and the brutal reactionary Islamists on the other. This is way below Iraqis’ expectations. If they were to choose between Leftists and Islamists, I am definitely sure they would choose the Left movement or the socialists for that matter.
Maryam Namazie: There has to be some sort of elections for people to be able to determine the future government of Iraq. I am not talking only of the standard elections as there could be elections through councils and so on. How can there be elections? What are the preconditions for fair and free elections in Iraq? So that people can really choose what they want?
Issam Shukri: There should be some kind of elections or a form of organizing the future government. I agree. But like any other country in the world, it has to be in a country free from the presence of an occupying force, like the USA and its allies, and as a precondition, there also has to be free environment, for people to choose without the oppression of the occupying forces or their opponents who are the Islamists and the remnants of the nationalists. I think the people of Iraq want a free environment, which also includes security and safety supervised by an international peace keeping force and then free access for all political parties and inclinations, full freedom of political activities, etc. This is all conditioned by the withdrawal of the USA from Iraq. People are lacking security and freedom; women do not have freedom, neither in society nor in elections nor at home nor anywhere else. The US on the other side is considered to be a criminal force. Look at the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and brutality, the bombardment of Fallujah and Sammarah, the explosions in Baghdad and so on. These are no conditions under which you can run free and fair elections!
The state in Iraq is a puppet body that not only suppresses the workers of Iraq under normal conditions, but also plays as an extension to the USA. The preconditions of free elections must starts with the withdrawal of the US from Iraq.
The above is an International TV ( http://www.anternasional.tv/english) interview dated October 24, 2004.