The requisite Iraq post
Good morning everybody, As you all must know by now from watching the news or reading your newspapers or whichever way you get your info from, today is the Iraqi election day. So, as expected from all middle-eastern bloggers, i shall provide you all with my requisite Iraq post, although I highly wonder if what I have to offer is any different from the umpteenth other posts on the topic. Oh well, gotta do it anyway. Would be against the rules or something if i ignored this event, you know? So, where to begin? Well, a good place for all of you ill-informed about the election out there- and there are many of you, so don't feel embarrassed or anything- I would recommend going over to Kat's Iraq Elections Questions and Answers post, which provides an answer to almost any question you could've had on the topic and is updated daily. Excellent source if you ask me. Then, if you are looking for a blog that offers you plenty of opinions and views about the Iraqi elections-posted by anti-war non-iraqis mostly though- you should definitely check the Iraq Election Blog. However, if you wanna sift through the BS, find a link to all the iraqi blogs and snippets from their daily postings, well, then look no further then the NYT mentioned , Sandmonkey's old friend Jeffery's blog , Iraqi Bloggers Central. There you will find the links to the blogs, plus jeff's own stinging commentary towards those who try to oppose the vote. He isn't unbiased people, just so you know! We then will move on to what the international news agencies have to say about this historic election: The Economist provided an article that started with this paragraph: IRAQIS danced in the streets outside the polling station, proudly displaying the indelible blue ink on their fingers that showed they had cast their votes one gleefully called it the mark of freedom. However, this scene, on Friday January 28th, took place among the relatively small community of Iraqi exiles in Sydney, Australia. Voting in Iraq itself, to be held on Sunday, seems unlikely to produce such joyful scenes. They apparently did not check out this yahoo story: Despite the heavy attacks, turnout was brisk in some Shiite Muslim and mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhoods. Even in the small town of Askan in the so-called "triangle of death" south of Baghdad a mixed Sunni-Shiite area 20 people waited in line at each of several polling centers. More walked toward the polls. ************************************************** In Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, only seven people showed up in the first two hours of voting at a school in the city center, while in the diverse city of Baquoba, jubilant voters danced and clapped outside a polling station. Is it just me or does it seem like that in the mixed neighbourhoods lies the actual model of how iraq could be? Anyway.. The economist's article isn't all doom and gloom though. It helps to remind us of an important fact: Whether or not the Sunnis vote, this election will be legitimate. Iraq's Shia Muslims, around 60% of the 25m-27m population, will be torn between the fatwa issued by the country's most senior Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, instructing the faithful to cast their votes, and the fear of being blown up at the ballot box or murdered afterwards. The marking of voters fingers with indelible ink, to prevent multiple voting, will also make them an identifiable target long after polling day. However, most Shias and most Kurds (around 20% of the population, based largely in northern Iraq) seem keen to vote, despite the risks. So even if most Sunni Arabs (the remaining 20% of Iraqis, roughly speaking) stay away out of fear or opposition to the elections, it is possible that up to two-thirds of Iraq's electorate will turn out in what will be a genuine multi-party election a dazzling rarity in the Arab world for the first time in half a century. May i remind you that in the US elections, there is less then 50% voter turnout in presidential elections? No one claims that those are illegitimate, do they? Hm... And Finally , in order to not forget mentioning the obvious, it seems that the White house has a high stake in Iraq's vote. No, really? (How do you spell "Duhh" again?) The White House is keenly watching the Iraqi election because it could affect U.S. military action there and sap President Bush's political strength here and abroad if the balloting doesn't lead to stability. In his radio message, Bush called the Iraqi election "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom crucial advance in the war on terror." At the same time, however, his advisers have downplayed the importance of Sunday's vote by calling it just the first step toward a new Iraqi constitution and fully elected leadership. And naturally, the democratic response to that was constructive and right on target: In the Democratic radio response on Saturday, Sen. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., said that while the election shows progress in Iraq, its outcome will not likely be representative of the views of all Iraqi ethnic and religious factions. The Shiites likely will control a majority of assembly seats with considerable Kurdish participation, he said. The Sunnis, however, will likely be underrepresented, said Skelton, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. NO! You mean to say that the 60% majority will have more represntation then the 20% minority? Really? Wow. That is such a shocker. No one could've possibly forseen that! By the way, do you notice that he says considerable Kurdish participation, yet says the Sunnis will be underrepresented and they are both 20% of the population? "If they do, it will be tempting to question what we could have done differently for the last two years," Skelton said. "What if the administration had listened to commanders like former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who called for a larger force for postwar stabilization? What if the reconstruction funds appropriated by Congress had been spent more quickly to provide more economic opportunity for the average Iraqi?" Apparently, the amount of Sunnis in the country would have been bigger if the president woud've asked for a larger army in Iraq or if they had spent more money there. Hmm! Yes, i can see the connection. In the end of the day, in any elections, it's those who go to the polls that do win. The Sunnis know that in a demoracy they have no chance to rule again, so they wanna ruin it for everybody else. Some may say that they are afraid of getting bombed or killed if they do vote, but here is my question: Where are the terrorists hiding? Not in kurdish neighborhoods, not in Shia neighbourhoods, they are in freakin Sunni neighbourhoods. They know who the terrorists are and they are not reporting them in. If they are really scared and wanna vote they would turn them in. They don't. It is not in the best interest to do so. Better to sit at home and decry the lack of security and the elections illegitemacy. ya know? Anyway, who knows? The day has just begun over there and until it's over we won't know what to expect. What we will know is that an election took place, an election that a majority of iraqis voted in, and if that's not democracy, well, it's at least a big first step.