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Iraq's Election

By Massoud Behnoud
Translated by Roya Monajem

Whether we agree with Mr. Bush and his approaches, or like many Europeans believe in a more moderate approach, or like the majority of totalitarians totally disagree with it, the fact that the recent election in Iraq proved amidst blood and bomb explosion was that in contrast to what Iranian fanatics and their lot in Asia think, the fight over Iraq was about democracy and not like what they write over oil. The event more or less facilitated foresights about the future of the world and revealed many aspects of the world scheme and prospect in the years to come.

Many wise people of the world, including European friends and intellectuals, particularly after 11/9 insisted that American neo-conservatives have accelerated the process of globalization (according to American interpretation) by invasion of Iraq under the guise of 'war with terrorism' that is not in harmony with human good. Moslem fundamentalists and Middle-East rulers that demand their dollars from globalization and not its necessary constituents, i.e. freedom and human rights, although repeat what European intellectuals say, but privately maintain their own logic and hope to light their lantern out of this fire and intensify the antagonism between USA and Europe, to continue imposing their old middle-aged traditions and habits. It was quite clear that this concord would soon fall into pieces as it was essentially based on a misunderstanding.

A year after 11/9, Moslem fundamentalists and European intellectuals slept on the same bed of antagonism with USA for a short period, but with two completely different dreams. People of countries like England whose army attacked Iraq hand in hand with USA were also against the attack, but the reason for their opposition was based on human rights. They believed that we can not send people to heavens compulsorily and establish democracy in a country despite its national will. This was the ruling public opinion in Europe, reflected evidently in their selected governments, creating an abyss on the two sides of Atlantic in which some governments such as the one in Tehran thought that they can live in this abyss. It was not only Islamic Republic of Iran that relied on greater European countries in the nuclear story and escaped the pressure in this way; Sadam played the same game for years and Ghadafi and Syria are still playing the same game.

With the last week's election in Iraq, that abyss was filled. On hearing the voice of Iraqi people, the European public opinion -on the testimony of sources giving shape to it - was changed, as though it was George Bush winning their public opinion simultaneously with the Iraq election. The idea of holding election in Iraq as the first move toward the establishment of democracy in the country - that is expected to lead to establishment of the constitutional law, parliament and the new government - was and is bad news for Moslem countries, let alone the fact that it filled the aforementioned abyss between Europe and USA and there is now no obstacles on the way of Washington's pressures.

I do not doubt that the result of Iraq elections will create a new hardship for the Moslem rulers of the Middle East whose greatest concern was to prevent the reverberation of this great event in their societies. Will they wake up finally? It is not easy to answer this question, as according to a proverb, 'it is possible to wake up people, but not those who pretend to be asleep.'

I was among those who repeatedly wrote that democracy is not in any soldier's sack. Iraq election showed however, that as one of the heroes of Saaedi's plays says, 'an obstructed brook can not be opened except with the handle of a spade.' This does not mean that democracy is established in Iraq society with the recent elections; or I believe that from tomorrow happiness, democracy and freedom will show their face to Iraqi people. It is clear that it will not be like that. Democracy is a collective contract and in addition to the establishment of law and order, it needs people who are ready to surrender to limitations of freedom and accept the required order. Everybody knows that such people are not born over night, as European societies were not democratized suddenly and instantly. It was a field that yielded its products over years. The field should one day be ploughed and prepared, however. The story of Afghanistan and Iraq - on the contrary to what we and fanatics - sharing doubt and suspicions in two ways - thought, showed that extremists and fundamentalists are the best excuse for a world that has accelerated its pace and intends to plough the field.

Iranian leaders and their sycophantic propagators do not need to mourn and lament for their bad luck so much, as Jack Chirac, Robin Cook - ex- British foreign minister - and nearly the whole intellectual community of Europe were equally surprised, let alone leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sheikdoms - of course including Zarfavi, Bin Ladin and Hekmatyar who if have still any reason left in them should be suffering from a bad headache these days. Iraq elections was a blow on behalf of the Reality that no matter how hard the public media in Islamic Republic of Iran, Egypt, Syria and others try to show it differently, was one of the most determining signs of transformation at the beginning of 21st century.

A caricature that appeared in the Tuesday issue of London Times shows a great graveyard with voices rising from every corner of it saying 'the warm feeling of democracy has entered my grave too.' It is not hard to realize the ironic subtlety of this caricature. We have read the feature articles of Iranian newspapers and their counterparts in the Arab World in the past few months. We heard the pessimistic comments of some of the European political commentators. Yet, the number of those commentators who sincerely confessed, as Rumi says 'it was wrong what we thought,' was not insignificant. Iraq elections gave meaning to that of Afghanistan and showed that when dealing with those who know no other way than coercion in maintaining their old corrupted habits, there is perhaps no other way than using the same repulsive instrument of coercion. We were young when Andre Malraux withheld freedom from enemies of freedom and regarded his position as a sign of his conservatism in his post as General De Gaul's minister of culture. We were more attached to our own slogans and did not believe that those fashionable slogans of the time could bring about not that beauty and freedom that the previous generation wished, but flames of violence and blood.

However, that part of Iraq elections that is connected to Iranian fate is a regretful feeling in the heart of Iranians who last night heard that after boasting about Iraq, George Bush emphasized on his position toward the Islamic Republic. The regret in our hearts is rooted in a cold icy background. We were the first nation in the region who heard the sound of European democratic revolution; we sang the song of freedom three times at the beginning, middle and the end of 20th century, i.e. during the Constitution Movement, Nationalization of oil and anti-monarchic revolution, but our joy in all the three did not last long. Freedom was not institutionalized in us - as it is not in Iraqi people and we will see that they will not be kind to it for years as they should be. The joy did no last in us because the resistance of enemies of freedom was quite relentless and liberalists were not strong enough to maintain democratic institutes; neither Constitutionalists, nor Ahmad Shah, the only democratic king of the Persian history, nor Dr. Mosadeq, the role mode of nationalist liberalist movement of mid 20th century, nor Bazargan who reached the top from the heart of revolution. I have no idea whether those who will attain power in Iraq now will share Dr. Mosadeq's and Mohammad Khatami's luck or not. What I know however is that their power is more than all Persian (Iranian) liberalists put together and this is the luck that the new world granted them and Iraqi people - many without knowing - approved it by taking part in the recent elections. Yet it is not surprising if those whose finger was blackened because of their participation in the election on Sunday, would soon and out of impatience, stand up to destroy the building in whose construction they played a role, and would not scrub their fingers hard, surrender to accidents, and regret and despair like those who participated in the Mosadeq's referendum of 1953 or like those who voted for Khatami on Khordad 2nd. No matter what, Iraq elections re-wrote the history of the region.

By the testimony of her contemporary history, Persia was lucky enough to be the focus of modern democratic movement of the region. All the necessary conditions were prepared several times for us, but due to the power of fanatics and our own lack of patience, we lost the chances to the extent that the clear water of our spring did not reach the surrounding fields and instead we remained the same, while countries on the north of our frontiers attained their independence. We idly sat and did nothing until Turkey accepted the laws of democratic life to the extent that its pro-Islamic government put its first step in Europe and we continued our long slumber until Afghanistan and Iraq yielded compulsorily to elected regimes and little Sheikdoms of the south of Persian Gulf attained a significant part of what is necessary for any contemporary society that is economic order and power, while our fanatics, despite Persia's vastness and wealth did all they could to make this country fall last in this caravan. But there is nowhere more backward and procrastinating than where Persia is standing now. In the words of religious elegists, let us lament and mourn over our Persian submissiveness that has filled the place that could be filled with the kind of quality that could set the model for the whole region; instead we are still struggling to know whether Persians do have the capacity to elect their own representatives, or should Mr. Janati select and approves them first? Instead, we are still arguing to know whether it is still possible to spend tremendous amount of the treasury to prevent public use of satellites and internet or not. Our technocrats in foreign policies are still planning for ways to force decision-makers 'to take away their eggs from the basket.' We are still advertising that human rights is the Westerners' trick and in Zarfavi's words a plot for deriving god out of the society. We are still wondering whether it is possible to limit the media through intimidation, corruption, allurement and censor, lest they criticize the structure of power.

But let me bring you the good tiding that all these tremendous events happening around us and in the world, with Iraq elections as the last of them will evidently reach ears in Persia. We will see that behind this veil of indifference toward the regional and international changes, there are many people in Tehran who will whisper in your ears that in spite of your will, that the reality has reached behind your gates and even Saeed ol-Sahaf can not deny it. We will see that again right at the last minute, like the case of accepting the reformist candidate in Khordad 2nd presidential election, this time too they are forced to play another trick to bring the long discouraged nation to the scene of the coming presidential election, heralding: "This time, the ballot-box will neutralize the spell, the curse."

Except the fanatics, every one throughout the world knows that Persia extended to Europe from one side, to India from another, to Siberia from the north and to Black Africa from the south, is closest to democracy and she will attain it in a loftier and more sublime way, and all these years, it was Persians' love for peaceful coexistence and the flexibility of their representatives in the regime that prevented them to rise their voice. And we will see that when their field is ready, their time-distance to the product would be less than that of all the other nations of the region.

If Islamic republic decision-makers accept this truth with all the bitterness that truth may have and remove the existing obstacles that our people face and save the house of justice from the hands of power, not only an overwhelming pressure will be removed in and out, but the very participation of people in their fate will be the very miracle that will start the wheels of economy and will constrain our tremendous social problems. On one hand, with Iraqi Shiites coming into power, a sphere of influence and unity can arise on the basis of 'consanguine' relations of the two nations which gives Persia a chance to participate in reconstruction of Iraq - a chance that was lost in the case of countries of the central Asia due to lack of wisdom. On the other hand, people can remove the costly badge of 'Death to America' from their chests on their own decision, without being forced to drink the hemlock.

There is no need to beg Europeans to participate in our oil and gas industry in the hope that they might - indeed they only might- prepare the ground for our membership in WTO and acquirement of nuclear industries. We will not need to compromise in relation to Moscow, instead they can become the one who has to compromise. Except free elections and establishment of a true house of justice, the outcomes of Iraq elections show that taking the other way is a hard dangerous way that might cross only sick minds.

During the time that immigrants of other countries are returning to their homelands, do we intend to send out new immigrants? Surely this is not an act worthy of Persians. Although it was a great mistake to make people lose hope in reformation whose spark did hit the eyes of the world, but it can be regarded as an experience with its own instructive lessons and drive, not the elites and men and women of Reform, but fanatics out of power before it is too late.

Iraq election was like an earthquake happening in the depth of oceans giving rise to that tsunami. 'To hear and not to hear' the news of tsunami does not alter the height of the waves. When the need for compromise and humility becomes evident, reason and love of motherland demand us to bow before people and ask for their forgiveness and rely solely on them who will then be the softest and most gracious pillows.

... Payvand News - 3/1/05 ... --

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