Sami Ramadani: The Vietnam turnout was good as well

Iraqi political refugee and senior lecturer at London's Metropolitan University, Sami Ramadani says, "No amount of spin can conceal Iraqis' hostility to US occupation." And he's right.

George Bush and Tony Blair made heroic speeches on Sunday implying that Iraqis had voted to approve the occupation. Those who insist that the US is desperate for an exit strategy are misreading its intentions. The facts on the ground, including the construction of massive military bases in Iraq, indicate that the US is digging in to install and back a long-term puppet regime. For this reason, the US-led presence will continue, with all that entails in terms of bloodshed and destruction.

In the run-up to the poll, much of the western media presented it as a high-noon shootout between the terrorist Zarqawi and the Iraqi people, with the occupation forces doing their best to enable the people to defeat the fiendish, one-legged Jordanian murderer. In reality, Zarqawi-style sectarian violence is not only condemned by Iraqis across the political spectrum, including supporters of the resistance, but is widely seen as having had a blind eye turned to it by the occupation authorities. Such attitudes are dismissed by outsiders, but the record of John Negroponte, the US ambassador in Baghdad, of backing terror gangs in central America in the 80s has fuelled these fears, as has Seymour Hirsh's reports on the Pentagon's assassination squads and enthusiasm for the "Salvador option".

An honest analysis of the social and political map of Iraq reveals that Iraqis are increasingly united in their determination to end the occupation. Whether they participated in or boycotted Sunday's exercise, this political bond will soon reassert itself - just as it did in Vietnam - despite tactical differences, and despite the US-led occupation's attempts to dominate Iraqis by inflaming sectarian and ethnic divisions.

Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | Sami Ramadani: The Vietnam turnout was good as well


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