The purple finger salute
Heavy Sunni Turnout as Iraqis Vote for Parliament
By DEXTER FILKINS
Published: December 15, 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 15 - In a day remarkable for its calm, millions of Iraqis from across the country cast ballots today to elect a parliament to a four-year term, with Sunni Arabs turning out in what appeared to be very heavy numbers and guerrillas mounting relatively few armed attacks.
Iraqi officials said initial indications were that as many as 11 million people cast ballots, which, if the estimate holds true, would put the overall turnout at more than 70 percent. With Iraqis still lining up to vote in front of ballot centers as the sun went down, Iraqi officials ordered the polls to stay open an extra hour.
The day was strikingly peaceful, even in areas normally beset by violence. With more than 375,000 American and Iraqi troops and police officers fanned out across the country, the American command here reported only 35 armed attacks, about half the daily average, with only 14 against polling centers. On Jan. 30, when Iraqis elected a transitional government, insurgents attacked nearly 300 times.
Iraqis streamed to the polls in cities and villages across the country, some bringing their children, some pushing wheelchairs, many dressed in their finest clothes. With streets across the country closed to vehicular traffic, many Iraqis milled about the streets after they cast their ballots, looking on as their children played soccer.
The day's most dramatic events unfolded in the country's Sunni Arab neighborhoods, where hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who had boycotted the election in January came out this time to vote. Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad, like Adamiya, and in Kirkuk and Western Mosul, ordinarily tense and bereft of security, were filled with Iraqis walking to polling centers and lining up to cast their ballots.
Even in Anbar Province, where concerns about violence kept about a quarter of the province's 207 polling sites closed, American Marine officers said the voting far exceeded their expectations.
"Last time, if you voted, you died," said Abdul Jabbar Mahdi, a Sunni Arab who brought his wife and three children to a polling station in the ordinarily tense neighborhood of Adamiya. "God willing, this election will lead to peace."
The Sunnis are staking their ground.
I know the right is all happy about the elections, but they shouldn't be.
Because this just puts all the competing parties on stage to seize power. I know the Ass Clown Media crowd is waving their purple fingers, but they shove them up their asses and buy a clue.
Elections without security and free of militias can be an empty gesture, and probably would be.
The most important event of the week was not the voting, but the Sadr proclamation the Shia parties signed. Because it lays the ground work for the eviction of the US.
Let me explain.
Kurdistan is peaceful because people are getting paid. But one day, the Talabanis and the Barzanis will have to decide who runs Kurdistan and in 1996, that discussion was with armed Pershmerga bands with an assist from Saddam. You have two parties, the UPK and PDK and their followers kill each other from time to time.
Despite the propeganda pushed by Kurd factorum Peter Galbraith, who pimps his "create Kurdistan at any price" message to journalists ignorant of Iraqi politics, the reality is that Kurdish unity will last as long as there is something in it for both sides and not a minute longer.
The Shia have two competing factions, the Sadrists and SCIRI/Dawa. Both groups want power, but one has a million bodies to place on the line and one doesn't. Sadr demonstrated his power earlier in the week by shoving that agreement in front of everyone and making them sign.
Then there are the Sunnis, with so many guerrilla groups, all with people who will want power.
So what do you have? A government made up of inexperienced and largely corrupt pols and militias, all dependent on US protection to stay alive. Elections are a good start, if there is a real government to support. But if it's just a debating society for basically gangsters and fanatics, all the elections in the world will not matter.
So wave the purple finger, but a lot of them will he hidden in their homes because it is simply to dangerous to walk the streets
posted by Steve @ 12:07:00 AM