Monday, April 26, 2010

Free and an extent

My years of experience in working with the Voices of Iraq (Aswat al-Iraq) have really helped me to develop my instincts and writing abilities as a journalist. On top of that, it really gives you an insight into what extent our media is manipulated, how it is achieved, and what types of people are targeted with each new article that is posted. This of course included in the added bonus of knowing what's going on in current events (or at least that's the theory :p).

Today, I posted a story about the elections in Iraq, specifically the results. Now, the process of holding the elections in Iraq has been a point of debate for quite some months now. I love to hackle about the dos and donts, the positives and negatives, with my journalist friend LeAnne. It's advantageous to be able to discuss things like this with someone who is also intricately familiar with how the media is run, not to mention also up to date on current events.

I know that the elections were not "free," but I would always bleat to LeAnne about how it's a great step forward, the people have been granted the ability to express their voice, and are being granted new political freedom that was unheard of during the time of Saddam. She believes it's mostly a farce. I can't disagree, but I maintain my original belief that a corrupt election, while still a huge issue, is better than no election at all.

So my story today, 52 (yes that's right) 52 politicians were completely stripped of any votes they won. Their votes were cancelled. Entirely nullified. And why? Because of their quote unquote "ties" to the former Baath party.

Does this seem ridiculous to ANYONE else but me? That's like discluding politicians in Germany for their rumoured ties to the Nazi party during WWII; who wasn't connected to the Nazi party! The article fails to mention how they were connected, just that they were. This could mean that they were on speaking terms with politicians in the Baath party, once went to a Baath rally, any number of menial things that could be seen as "ties" to the Baath party. Semantics aside, just look at what this says about the elections in Iraq. 52 politicians. It's a staggering number.

It makes me wonder what is going to happen to the votes originally cast for these politicians. Their political parties are not getting the where are they going? Are they just disappearing? As though they never existed? Or, as is sadly more likely, are they being funnelled into the ruling parties total vote count. Perhaps slightly short of a majority victory?One can only wonder.

What's even better, is that the Iraqi authorities mistrusted the original results of the elections. So what are they doing about it? A manual recount. I'm sure there are NO chances for ballots to slip in there unnoticed. None at all. Manually recounting the votes, totally maintains the elements of a transparent elections. Just to make sure that these votes are correctly counted, the Iraqi's brought in the experts. Representatives from Florida to oversea the voting process. Representatives from the very state that botched the elections that brought George W. Bush into office in the first place. The irony just smarts.

Sadly, Iraq is not the only country to be experiencing this quasi-democracy, Sudan is also a prime example. But that's an entirely different topic.

It's a cruel and sad truth, Iraq appears to be a quasi democratic state , that really is teetering on the brink of civil war caused by sectarian unrest. Most Western news outlets fail to report this, as who to bear the responsibility for destroying a country which ultimately led to the eruption of a civil war. Would the Obama administration do something about it? Would Tony Blair or Gordon Brown? Or would history repeat itself, and watch the Western "peacekeepers" again pull out, and let the Iraqi's deal with the Iraqis? long as we have our oil contracts right?

So while I maintain my original belief that to be able to hold an election in Iraq is a monumental step forward, the lack of freedom, let alone fairness, just goes to show how much is left to be done.

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