The outcome of the Iraqi elections is being challenged by almost everybody. Prime Minister Al-Maliki initially claimed the election was free and fair, but has now decided that there has, after all, been widespread cheating. Perhaps this is because his main challenger, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, did so well. Both Al-Maliki and Allawi won around 90 seats each in the 325 seat parliament.
Al-Maliki should be believed when he says that there has been widespread cheating. He ordered most of it! Scottish Tory MEP Struan Stevenson has claimed that after he published an email address and invited Iraqis to contact him with evidence of fraud, he received hundreds of letters and emails from inside Iraq and elsewhere. Stevenson, who heads the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq, tried to take a team of election observers to Iraq but was refused permission on security grounds. Instead he used the internet as an ad hoc election observation unit. The results were deeply concerning.
The Iranian regime, forever keen to meddle in Iraq’s affairs, moved heaven and earth to try to stop the non-sectarian, secularist and nationalist parties from winning seats. They were behind the illegal banning of some 500 candidates from standing in the elections on trumped up charges that they were sympathetic to the former Baathist regime. In fact the one thing most of the banned candidates had in common was their vigorous opposition to Iranian meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs!Key politcak figures from the secularist camp were arrested. Large amounts of Iranian cash was allegedly distributed to buy votes and in one case it was said that pistols were purchased and handed out to villagers in return for their pledges of support.
A senior member of Al-Maliki’s administration apparently travelled to Brussels to brief Stevenson following the vote, so concerned was he by the extent of corruption and cheating which took place in the supposedly free and fair election.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis were refused permission to cast their votes in Europe on spurious grounds relating to an alleged lack of proper identification.
According to allegations sent to Stevenson by Iraqi citizens and officials, at the end of polling election observers were ordered to leave voting stations, the doors were locked and ballot boxes were thereafter stuffed with pro Maliki votes and pro-Allawi ballot papers were marked with a second tick to render them invalid.
Stevenson has now sent a 40 page report detailing the most serious allegations to EU foreign affairs chief Baroness Ashton. The Delegation for Relations with Iraq has asked him to send a copy of the report to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in Baghdad, with a request that they investigate the claims.
Despite all of the well-laid plans by Al-Maliki and his Iranian allies, the bomb blasts, death threats and intimidation failed to stop millions of courageous Iraqis from casting their votes for Ayad Allawi and his non-sectarian, nationalist party. Tired of the years of violence and corruption and the creeping influence of Iran, brave Iraqis went to the polls in droves to cast their votes against Al-Maliki and his supporters. Had Stevenson not exposed the fraud in the early part of the election, Al-Maliki might have won by a landslide. But the media scrutiny that followed fortunately cut back on incidents of fraud as the campaign progressed.
Al-Maliki is now demanding a complete recount of every single vote. This would necessitate the re-deployment of over 400,000 counting agents and would clearly provide the Al-Maliki faction with another opportunity to cheat and emerge victorious as a result.
Meanwhile the EU, the US and the UN continue to play the role of the three wise monkeys! They see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Alarmed that any allegations of a fraudulent election might sow the seeds of renewed violence which would thwart America’s plans for troop withdrawal, they have instead insisted that the election was largely fair.
Al-Maliki may yet re-emerge as the Prime Minister of Iraq, but it will not be with the popular approval and support of the majority of Iraqis, nor will it be in the interests of the West. If more people like Struan Stevenson stick their heads above the parapet and cry foul the West would have to take stock, act on the basis of the evidence and not delude themselves into believing their own wishful thinking.