Palestinians ambivalent over Iraq poll

While Palestinians in general strongly support democratic reforms in the Arab world, most have not been enthusiastic about Sunday's general election in Iraq.

    Many Palestinians fear a pro-Israel stance from Iraq's Allawi

    While the US argues that the election was an important step towards the creation of a free and democratic Iraq, many Palestinians, like most Arabs, seem to be concerned the poll might lead to the formation of a puppet Iraqi government that would recognise Israel to the detriment of the Palestinian people.
    "I am soul and heart for democracy in Iraq," says Hasan Amr, a teacher from the southern West Bank of Dura.

    "However, I do not trust America whose policies towards Muslims in general are formulated by a small group of influential Jews whose views are shaped by Israel and the Zionist movement.

    "It is not a matter of Shias verses Sunnis, both are our brothers, it is rather the sinister American designs of turning Iraq into a subservient country serving American goals of hegemony and domination in this vital part of the world."
    Lack of enthusiasm
    Such views seem widespread among Palestinians. According to Ghazi Hamd, editor-in-chief of the Gaza-based Islamic weekly paper, Al-Risala, most Palestinians are not applauding the elections.

    "I think most people here view the Iraq government of Iyad Allawi as a quisling regime"

    Ghazi Hamd,
    editor-in-chief Al-Risala

    "I think most people here view the Iraq government of Iyad Allawi as a quisling regime. Hence, the elections are viewed as a disingenuous process that is aimed at enabling the US to achieve its imperialistic goals in Iraq."
    Hamd, whose offices were bombed by an Israeli helicopter gunship last year, said Palestinian attitudes towards Iraq were not shaped by sectarian considerations (nearly all Palestinians are Sunnis), but rather by their distrust and hatred of the US, Israel's guardian-ally.
    "America is the Palestinian people's tormentor and the Palestinians won't like anybody collaborating with the Americans."
    None the less, Hamd says most Palestinians would not try to be "more Iraqi than the Iraqis".
    "We believe that the Iraqi people are the ones who will determine their own future. They know what is best for them and for their country. We hope that Iraq will re-emerge as a free and independent country where all citizens, irrespective of their religious and ethnic affiliations, will be treated equally and justly," he told
    Highlighting Sunni boycott
    Most of the Palestinian media have highlighted the boycott of the elections in western Iraq where the bulk of Iraq's Sunni Muslims live.

    Commentators say the Sunni
    boycott dented the poll's validity

    The Ram Allah-based Al-Ayyam newspaper, which devoted ample coverage to the Iraqi elections, quoted several observers as contending that the Sunni boycott of the elections left a big hole in poll's legitimacy.
    On Monday, Al-Ayyam published a cartoon of a smiling Iraqi casting his vote at a ballot box wrapped in the American flag and supported by femur bones, while sitting atop a pile of human sculls, his shoe dripping with blood.
    Problems of their own
    Palestinians have always admired the anti-American camp in Iraq, especially the Sunni-led Association of Muslim Scholars  and the Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. 
    Most Palestinians, however, are preoccupied with the internal Palestinian situation, especially the draconian Israeli measures which impoverish them and restrict their movement.
    "The Palestinians have enough problems of their own, I am not saying Palestinians do not care about what is happening in Iraq, they do, but priority is given to their immediate plight. After all we are under even a more sinister foreign occupation," said Hamd.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera



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