Iraq stands on the edge of a precipice. Widespread claims of electoral fraud have emerged over the past few days as the country went to the polls, and in Brussels, the Head of the European Parliament's Iraq Delegation Struan Stevenson MEP, has just issued a press release describing the delay in announcing the poll results as "suspicious".
This could prove to be a glorious understatement, but one can understand Stevenson's caution. However, he points out that by Tuesday of this week, the electoral commission had promised that 30% of the results would be made known -- but as that day came to a close, results came there none. Says Stevenson, "I fear the Mullah's regime in Iran may now be trying to install a puppet Prime Minister in Baghdad."
Consider this; over 500 secular candidates were bumped from standing under largely spurious claims of the need for "de-Baathification", and that was before the election got underway and widespread claims of violence and intimidation became known. Stevenson says he has been called by numerous people from within Iraq; all who viewed the delay in vote counting as highly ominous. Even given the high octane nature and passions aroused by the elections in Iraq -- and possibly the propensity for exaggeration, it is no exaggeration to be at least suspicious that the ballot boxes are actively being tampered with.
It has long been suspected that Iran has been taking an active interest in the election outcome in neighbouring Iraq, and Sunni Iraqis, as well as Kurds and Assyrians have good cause for alarm. After all, prior to the last Iraqi elections, the then Vice President accused Teheran of "printing and sending across the border up to five million pre-printed ballot papers to turn the election". The regime repeated the same trick on its own populace, which has resulted in continuing protest and demonstration against the stolen Iranian election to this day, protest that all too often has been violently put down.
The party of Ayaad Allawi, the Al Iraqia Party, has just released the following statement, one which should cause very real concern internationally. "We have uncovered tens of violations, including the cancellation of the names of large sections of armed forces personnel, interference in the work of the Independent Elections Commission, and a blatant violation of the law which mandates the results of the manual tallying of votes in each polling station, which should be announced and publicly displayed in each station".
At the time of writing, it would seem that huge doubts and questions hang over the elections in Iraq. With each passing hour, the failure to announce poll results deepens the suspicion that an active attempt at sabotage is underway, and that it is being directed by Tehran.
By Mark Seddon