December 09, 2004

Iraqi Elections Watch

As B.D. predicted a little while back, some Sunni groupings appears to be backtracking and indicating that they will participate in the January elections in Iraq:

Iraq's leading Shiite political groups agreed Wednesday to unite under a single banner, a move that could help them win a dominant share of votes in the coming national elections.

The agreement came as several Sunni parties, including one that led a broad movement to delay the elections for six months, registered to field candidates.

Together, the two decisions appeared to strengthen somewhat the chances of a January vote, despite the continuing violence here and calls by dozens of Sunni parties to postpone the elections.

In another development, officials at Iraq's Interior Ministry said they supported a proposal made by the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, to spread the elections over a two- to three-week period in January, in an effort to ease security concerns. Dr. Allawi is in Europe, and details of the proposal will be ironed out on his return, the officials said...

...In recent weeks, some Iraqi leaders have said the continuing violence makes the goal of January elections unattainable, especially in the Sunni-dominated areas north and west of Baghdad. Last month, dozens of political figures met to call for a postponement at the home of Adnan Pachachi, a well-known figure who has supported the American presence.

But Mr. Pachachi's party, the Independent Democratic Gathering, has now registered to run candidates in the elections, along with the Islamic Party and the National Democratic Party.

--from today's NYT.

These are the kinds of developments that give me continued faith that Iraq could still prove to be, five to ten years hence, a major success of historic proportions rather than an imbecilic, colossal blunder. And I still think a positive outcome is likelier by a material margin.

Posted by Gregory at December 9, 2004 05:45 AM | TrackBack (12)

This is encouraging on some level. By the way Greg, what do you think of Juan Cole's recommendation that if the Sunni's do boycott the election en masse, the interim government authorizes a one time set aside of 25% of the seats in Parliament to the Sunni parties that do participate in the elections?

This would insure adequate representation for Sunnis which is not only important because of the insurgency, and the fact that this will be Iraq's first elected government, but also because this assembly will be drafting the permanent Constitution.

Posted by: Eric Martin at December 9, 2004 04:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Afganistan - Freedom
Ukraine - Freedom
Iraq - Freedom

Don't know about you, but it seems to me that Freedom is on the march.

Posted by: IcePilot at December 9, 2004 06:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's hope so IcePilot, but I would caution that the final verdict on Afghanistan and Iraq are far from written - Ukraine too for that matter. In fact, we are barely one page into the prologue. One election does not a democracy make.

Posted by: Eric Martin at December 9, 2004 06:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As an alternative to a 25% set aside (which may be extra-constitutional and encourage a boycott) could Allawi appoint a special consultant for Sunni-Arab affairs in the event Sunni-Arabs are underrepresented for whatever reason? Could the Iraqi legislature form a constitutional committee with a more proportionate membership than the Assembly? I'm just speculating on ways to give Sunni-Arabs a voice (through title and participation) without necessarily a vote.

Posted by: PD Shaw at December 9, 2004 07:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Interesting suggestions PD Shaw. I hope that those in charge are being as creative and circumspect about the problem. Although I'm not sure that your solutions are any less "extra-constitutional" if that is the main objection to the 25% rule.

The problem, I can see, with one Sunni consultant is that the opinions and input of one man may be less representative of the diversity of Sunni opinions as would many voices - albeit from a limited number of parties actually participating. On the other hand, that one Sunni consultant may be more inclined to act with the interests of all Sunnis in mind than members of a particular party who may have a firmly entrenched narrow agenda.

The proportionate constitutional committee idea might solve this conundrum. Either way, it gets people thinking in the right direction.

Posted by: Eric Martin at December 9, 2004 08:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There already is a special consultant for Sunni affairs. His name is Ghazi al Yawir.

Posted by: praktike at December 11, 2004 06:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Bush administration still mouths the confident belief that a secular democracy is being born in Iraq. But it has been evident for some time that by removing the Baath regime, the United States unleashed long-suppressed political forces that have very different aspirations.

Some now raise alarms that the election will create an Islamic republic of Iraq controlled by Iran. Jordan's King Abdullah told the Washington Post last week that a million Iranians have crossed the border to vote and that the Iranian regime is flooding the country with money. ``We've opened ourselves to a whole set of new problems that will not be limited to the borders of Iraq,'' he warned.

Longtime American observers of Iraq also voice those fears. ``It will be a singular achievement of President Bush that he invaded Iraq for the purpose of turning the country over to the Iranians,'' Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador who uncovered and documented Saddam's murderous campaigns against the Kurds, told me.

more at:

Posted by: avedis at December 12, 2004 07:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's see, the Jordanian MONARCH distrusts elections and the former Ambassador to Croatia wants to balkanize Iraq.


Posted by: PD Shaw at December 13, 2004 05:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Playing texas holdem at right now is a great idea, i thing!

Posted by: texas holdem at December 24, 2004 05:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Whant casino at home? Go to online casino games at!!!

Posted by: casino games at December 24, 2004 08:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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