View Full Version : Election Day in Iraq

10-23-2005, 08:44 AM
23 Oct. Washington Times Op-Ed by Victor Davis Hanson:

Purple Fingers... and Credit Due (http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20051022-100239-6548r.htm)

"... The obstacles to protecting the democracy are almost surreal: Too much force threatens to alienate wavering Iraqis whose support is critical for the new constitutional government; too little and civilians might well join the terrorists' side in expecting it would win. We hear mostly how much we've done wrong in Iraq. But last week we should have been better reminded of just how much we have done right -- and only because of our mostly unheralded soldiers who gave freedom to 26 million in the hope this might just work."

10-25-2005, 03:23 AM
Iraqi Referendum Seen As a Security Success

By Samantha L. Quigley

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2005 – With insurgent attacks down and voter participation up on Oct. 15, Iraq's constitutional referendum is being viewed as a security and participation success, a senior military official said in a news conference in Iraq on Oct. 23.

"(In) January there were 89 attacks against polling sites, while there were only 19 during the referendum," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, director of strategic communications for Multinational Force Iraq. "The safe and secure environment resulted in higher voter turnout, estimated at over 60 percent - about 10 million people. (Iraqi forces) had the lead for security for the referendum and they excelled."

Iraqi security forces led security operations for the referendum, including security at the polling centers and a cordon outside those centers. Coalition forces provided support with outer perimeter security, he said.

Three days after the referendum, Iraqi security forces independently conducted 10 of 35 offensive operations throughout the country. In the future, this will more frequently be the case, Alston said.

"What you will see in the next coming months (is) more and more portions of Iraq turned over to Iraqi security forces," he said. He added that though some limited areas of Iraq are patrolled solely by Iraqi security forces, none are ready for a complete handover of security to Iraqi security forces.

There are now more than 206,000 trained and equipped Iraqi security forces. That number is expected to close in on 275,000 in about a year, Alston said.

Turning attention to the insurgency, the general said 18 foreign fighters had been captured this month, part of the 311 captured since April. He also noted that 60 percent of the 376 foreign fighters captured in 2005 were from Egypt, Syria, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

The Iraqi border is long and difficult to defend, Alston said, though measures are being taken to reinforce security there.

"We have been, throughout these last two years, ... building border forts to improve the infrastructure along the borders," he said. "The plan is to increasingly deploy ready Iraqi security forces out to the border areas. Now ... there are more Iraqi security forces who are now better able to step up to that mission to man those borders."

Another important step to a new Iraq came Oct. 19 with the beginning of Saddam Hussein's trial for a July 1982 attack on the village of Dujail, Iraq, Alston said. That attack resulted in the arrest and torture of men, women and children.

"As you saw (on) television, the Iraqi special tribunal proceedings clearly demonstrated that the trial will be open and transparent, fair and just, and most importantly, led by Iraqis themselves," he said.

The trial on the Dujail charges began in Baghdad, but the defense was granted a continuance after citing missing and illegible case file documents. The trial is scheduled to resume Nov. 28.

Saddam also faces more charges for other crimes against humanity.

Related Site:

Multi-National Force Iraq (http://www.mnf-iraq.com/)

10-25-2005, 10:53 PM
Iraqi Voters Ratify Constitution; December Elections to Follow (http://www.voanews.com/english/CN-IRAQ-25oct05.cfm)

By Scott Bobb
25 October 2005

Voice of America

Voters in Iraq have adopted a new constitution, which will bring national elections in December and formally end the democratic transition launched after the fall of deposed President Saddam Hussein. Election officials announced the final results of last week's constitutional referendum.

Iraqi election officials said final results showed that three-fourths (78 percent) of the voters approved the new constitution and 20 percent voted against it.

But they also said that the Sunni-Arab minority, which opposed the constitution, narrowly missed defeating the document. The charter would have been defeated if two-thirds of the voters in three provinces rejected it.

The constitution was overwhelmingly rejected in two provinces, al-Anbar and Salahuddin, by 81 percent and 96 percent respectively. It was also rejected in a third province, Ninevah, but by 55 percent, 12 percentage points less than the necessary two-thirds majority.

Election official Farid Ayar, speaking through an interpreter, said the referendum was a step that puts Iraq on the road to democracy.

"It is an accomplishment for all the Iraqis because when Iraqis practice democratic rights, they are using mind and reason instead of violence and weapons," he said.

The majority Shiite Arabs and the independence-minded Kurds overwhelmingly supported the new constitution, which grants their oil-rich regions considerable autonomy.

But Sunni Arabs, who dominated government under Saddam Hussein, opposed the new constitution fearing it could lead to the break up of the country.

The spokesman of the Sunni-led National Dialogue Council, Saleh al-Mutlaq, said his group rejects the referendum results.

"We will try to work on the same basis on the political process, but our [Sunni leaders] position will be weak, because we managed to convince people to come to the political process and they saw the results, that there is no value for their voices," he said.

But the leader of the Shiite-led, Capable Independence Group, Ali al-Dabbagh, said that in a democracy the minority must learn to accept the will of the majority.

We respect your 'no.' We do not want to exclude you from the political process," he said. "But you should understand that when the majority decides, you should respect that majority."

The new constitution calls for national elections in December. Many Iraqis hope it will ease the violence that has killed thousands of people since the fall of Saddam Hussein. But others fear that it will only worsen security.

More than 100 people have been killed in a wave of attacks since the referendum, including at least 17 in a car bombing at two hotels Monday in Baghdad. In addition, U.S. military officials announced the death of four American soldiers in recent days, bringing the death toll from the U.S. military presence in Iraq to nearly 2,000.

11-27-2005, 09:03 PM
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty - Iraq Votes 2005 (http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqelections/).

RFE/RL has launched an updated "Iraq Votes 2005" webpage. Visitors can find news, background, and analysis on the election, as well as English-language translations of Radio Free Iraq (RFI) interviews and reports, and commentaries from the Iraqi press...

12-14-2005, 07:46 AM
14 Dec. Washington Post - Iraq Parliamentary Elections FAQ (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/12/AR2005121200475.html). Background and links...

12-15-2005, 11:22 PM
Turnout appears to be very strong. Here are various reports as of 1900 EST. Time permitting I will hit some of the Iraqi and related blogs and post to the Blog Watch section...

Ballot Counting Begins in Iraq Parliament Vote (http://www.voanews.com/english/2005-12-15-voa57.cfm) (Voice of America).

Turnout Strong in Iraqi Elections (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121500228.html?nav=hcmodule) (Washington Post).

Iraqi Voters Flock to Polls Amid Tight Security (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2005/20051215_3669.html) (American Forces Press Service).

Millions of Iraqis Vote in Relative Peace (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121500101.html) (Associated Press).

Ballot Papers Run Short as Sunnis Turn Out to Vote (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1933242,00.html) (London Times).

Terror Fails to Keep Iraqis From Polls (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17584051%255E601,00.html) (The Australian).

'High Turnout' in Iraqi Election (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4531904.stm) (BBC).

Iraqis Throng to Polls in Landmark Vote (http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20051215/wl_afp/iraqvote_051215195759) (Agence France-Presse).

Millions of Iraqis Vote in Relative Peace (http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5482494,00.html) (Guardian).

Election Day in Iraq (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121501074.html) (Washington Post).

Sunni Turnout Substantial in Iraq Voting, Casey Says (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2005/20051215_3671.html) (American Forces Press Service).

This Time, Sunnis Decide to Participate (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121501014.html) (Associated Press).

Sunnis Join Big Iraq Election Turnout (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051215/ts_nm/iraq_dc) (Reuters).

Kurds Stake Claim in the Future (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4532260.stm) (BBC).

Most Iraqi Voters Want Security, Stability (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121500710.html) (Associated Press).

Election in Sadr City Goes Smoothly (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2005/20051215_3667.html) (American Forces Press Service).

Iraqis Hold Peaceful Election Day in East Baghdad (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2005/20051215_3664.html) (American Forces Press Service).

Some Violence, Opposition Mars Iraqi Poll (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/12/7BCE9A9C-583C-4EED-8093-11870440C40C.html) (Radio Free Iraq).

Three Killed in Sporadic Iraq Violence (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121500812.html) (Associated Press).

Iraqis Rewarded for Patience at the Polls (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121500621.html) (Associated Press).

Iraqis Go to the Polls; Security Provides Confidence (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2005/20051215_3663.html) (American Forces Press Service).

Iraq: Voices Of The Voters (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/12/ED9D5E21-2CF4-4F79-94C4-ED51080235CB.html) (Radio Free Iraq).

12-16-2005, 12:50 AM
Wow, SWJED. You really went all out with the linkage this time.

...yet you left out Al-Jazeera (http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7920E78E-3DB6-412C-81FC-E42159BEDB8E.htm), even they had positive reporting on the turnout:

In Saddam Hussein's home province around Tikrit, where few voted in January, the provisional turnout was 83%, an official in the local electoral commission said...

Having boycotted the January polls, Sunnis appeared determined to make their voice heard.

In Falluja – the Sunni dominated town and a hotbed of armed opposition to US-led forces - so great was the turnout compared to the previous vote that polling stations ran out of ballot papers during the day, causing long queues to form.

Entire families walked through the town's car-free streets while children enjoyed their holiday playing football. The scene was in stark contrast to empty streets last January when the war-ravaged town boycotted elections for the transitional assembly.

12-16-2005, 08:48 AM
Washington Times - Iraqis Vote by the Millions (http://www.washtimes.com/world/20051216-125650-8387r.htm).

Festive crowds mobbed polling stations yesterday for Iraq's third election this year, the most ambitious attempt yet to shift a Shi'ite-Sunni struggle from the streets to parliament.

Unintimidated by a series of morning explosions that shook the capital and a smattering of attacks elsewhere, record numbers of voters walked in the warm sun to cast ballots at heavily protected polling places.

Official results will not be known for as long as two weeks, but fragmentary polling by Reuters news agency and a local television station showed substantial support for moderate Shi'ite leader Iyad Allawi from both Sunnis and Shi'ites.

12-16-2005, 11:33 AM
On Iraq and other issues to include news, editorials, op-ed's and a bit of blog coverage in today's (16 Dec.) Small Wars Journal Daily News Link (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/news/051216.htm) page....

12-22-2005, 03:50 PM
The Impact of the Iraqi Election: A Working Analysis (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/051221_iraqelection.pdf)

This list of problems and issues, and post-election tasks, presents many real challenges. Sunni inclusiveness also remains uncertain. Yet, there are few real deadlines and many areas where muddling through and ambiguity will work or buy time. With good political leadership, finding workable approaches should not be daunting, much less impossible. Iraqi public opinion polls also indicate that Iraqis will not insist on final solutions, only ask for a good beginning.

There are still serious problems in creating the kind of police forces Iraqis need to defeat the insurgents and provide security. There also have been growing problems with Shi’ite elements in the Ministry of Interior special security units that have treated Sunnis unfairly and may have attacked and killed Sunnis in political and revenge attacks. There is ongoing progress in both areas, however, and the election takes place at a time when significant overall improvements are taking place in Iraqi forces.

As of early December, Iraqi forces already totaled some 214,000 personnel. These included 102,000 in the armed forces under the Ministry of Defense: 101,000 army, some 200 air force, and some 800 navy. They included 112,000 in the police and security forces under the Ministry of Interior: 75,000 police and highway patrol, and 37,000 other MOI forces.

A total of some 130 army and special police battalions, with some 500-800 men each, were fighting in the insurgency. This was 7 battalions more than in late October. A total of 45 were at level 1-3 readiness and “in the lead” in early December. Some 33 battalions were in charge of their own battle space versus only 24 in late October.

The key to success will obviously be pragmatism, inclusiveness, and compromise. As such, it will be far more important for the new government to avoid divisive mistakes than have dramatic successes. Post-election Iraq will be a “close run thing,” and everything will depend on the quality of Iraq’s new leaders. The odds of success, however, are at least even -- if success is defined as a government that can preserve the core of the nation, reach critical compromise, and move forward in ways that steadily diminish both the insurgency and Shi’ite and Kurdish pressures to divide the nation.

One caution would be that insurgents will have every possible incentive to strike at successful political leaders and a successful political process. Those who believe in ethnic and sectarian division also face a critical six- to eight-month time window in which to push their causes at the expense of efforts at national unity. At least for much of 2006, neither Iraqi political success nor a steadily more effective set of Iraqi forces is likely to put an end to a stream of violent acts of terrorism. Politics will often be brutal and anything but pretty. This, however, is not a sign of failure, and it may well be a sign of success.

12-27-2005, 07:35 AM
27 Dec. New York Times - Iraq Vote Shows Sunnis Are Few in New Military (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/27/international/middleeast/27iraq.html).

An analysis of preliminary voting results released Monday from the Dec. 15 parliamentary election suggests that in contrast to the remarkable surge in Sunni Arab participation in the political process, the Sunnis still have comparatively little representation in the Iraqi security forces.

The indication is troubling because Sunni Arabs, who are about 20 percent of Iraq's population, came out in greater numbers largely as a response to the recent domination of the government by Shiites and Kurds. In particular, Sunni Arabs say they fear that the security forces will be used against them.

American military commanders say that it is crucial to build an Iraqi Army representative of Iraq's ethnicity, and that the alternative is to risk the consequences of Shiite and Kurdish forces' trying on their own to pacify insurgent hotbeds dominated by Sunni Arab militants...

12-27-2005, 08:42 AM
27 Dec. Los Angeles Times - Skewed Loyalties in Security Forces (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-vote27dec27,1,2795369.story?coll=la-headlines-world).

Despite U.S. efforts to promote diversity in Iraq's security forces, the composition of the nation's police and military organizations remains lopsided in favor of the Kurdish and religious Shiite political slates that have dominated the interim government, according to preliminary results from the Dec. 15 parliamentary election.

Fewer than 10% of the Iraqi soldiers, police officers and others who voted early because they would be on duty election day cast ballots for Sunni Arab candidates, underscoring the skewed makeup of the forces that American planners have tried to build after dissolving those that served Saddam Hussein.

U.S. officials have hinted at troubles in developing ethnically and religiously integrated units. Results of the special voting, released Monday by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, reveal armed forces heavy with loyalties to Shiite religious parties and Kurdish politicians...