Iraq poll, democratic future shattered by violence’

The intensified violence across Iraq, which has seen a wave of deadly bombings and attacks on politicians in the run-up to next month’s election, is endemic to the societal collapse caused by the US-led war, former MI5 agent Annie Machon told RT.

At least 19 people were killed and more than 130 wounded after bomb blasts rocked four Shiite mosques in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and another mosque in Kirkuk on Friday. The latest attacks come amidst a recent spike in violence, which has resulted in an estimated 260 deaths for the month of March alone.  

Meanwhile, as Iraq prepares to hold its first parliamentary elections in three years, politicians have increasingly become the victims of targeted assassinations. Following the latest bomb attack on Tuesday in the town of Tuz Khurmatu – which killed two candidates and their bodyguard – the total number of politicians killed in the run-up to Iraq’s April 20 parliamentary elections now stands at 11.

Machon argues the increased bloodshed does not bode well for Iraq’s democratic future, as the effects of war continue to ripple across the country.

RT:Attacks like this have been intensifying recently. What's the endgame here?

Annie Machon: I’m not even sure if there is an endgame. Unfortunately, by the West intervening in Iraq in an illegal war 10 years ago, we’ve now seen a massive destabilization of the old structures and no real meaningful new structures put in place. So it’s not just the politicians who are under threat, but vast sections of other areas of society too. So although Saddam [Hussein] was an odious dictator, for the vast majority of people under him, he did provide stability, and since he was removed, they have lost that stability, as well as losing most of the basic infrastructure which kept their society running.

I mean just things like proper hospitals, schools, even just water and sewage [systems] and things like that have been decimated and not rebuilt following the American and Western intervention. Of course, this has led to social destabilization, as well as health and education issues; there was a cholera outbreak a few years ago. So the country has been wrecked really by the Western intervention.

Iraqi stand on the balcony of a damaged building the day after twin car bombs in the Karrada area of the capital Baghdad on August 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

RT:Now these killings, we’ve had over 245 just this month, they’re targeting local people, they’re targeting politicians, who’s actually to gain from all the killings?

AM: That’s a very good question. I mean, you had a piece about Syria just before this and you can look at any of the other Western interventions as well in Middle Eastern countries. It allows an incursion by security companies and security forces from the West which can be very good for big business for Western companies which provide that security. It can also mean that instability allows the resources of that country to flow out of that country with little oversight. But for the people that live there, it’s become very, very difficult.

I would say though that casting back, I think it very ironic that the West intervened to provide democracy, freedom to the Iraqi people and yet the West intervened in a highly undemocratic and totally illegal way. It was a done deal cooked up between George Bush and Tony Blair 11 year ago which was then forced through our Western democratic systems with no say-so. I mean, many millions of us marched against the incursion into Iraq and yet it went ahead. So for countries that take an illegal step, an illegal decision to go to war against Iraq in an undemocratic way, to then justify it as giving democracy to Iraq I think is flagrant hypocrisy.

RT:There are almost 21,000 candidates competing now in this upcoming election in April. Can we not take that as a good sign that democracy is taking root? Isn’t that what they wanted for the country?

AM: Well, it depends how you define democracy. It’s great that people are stepping forward and they want to represent their constituencies, but if you can’t guarantee that democracy will be democratically elected, if you can’t guarantee that people are not afraid to go and vote, if you can’t guarantee that there won’t be oppression and violence around that process, and if you can’t guarantee that the people who are elected will have real powers to represent their constituencies, then it’s not a real democracy; it’s yet another oligarchy, another dictatorship imposed on the hapless people.

Iraqis stand at the scene of a rocket attack on a residential compound in central Baghdad, on July 5, 2011 (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)