38 dead in election violence in Iraq

Rick Moran
The enemies of democracy in Iraq tried very hard to disrupt the vote yesterday. But it appears that there was a massive turnout in spite of the violence and that the political map of the country was redrawn.

Sunnis, who boycotted the last election in Iraq, participated in huge numbers this time around. As a counterweight to Iranian influence, this is welcome news. But will the Shias grant the Sunnis any power sharing arrangements at all?

On such questions, the future of Iraq hinges.

Washington Post:

Like past Iraqi elections, Sunday's vote will almost certainly be followed by fierce and protracted jockeying as coalitions recalibrate alliances and wrangle over top jobs. The process is expected to drag on for months, with political fights potentially spilling back into the streets and deepening sectarian and ethnic divides as Iraqis enter an era in which the United States will be increasingly powerless to shape events."It's certainly possible that the losers will not accept their defeat," said Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq expert at the International Crisis Group. Results are not expected for a day or more.

U.S. officials hailed the vote as a milestone that they hope will allow a smooth reduction of their country's footprint this summer. U.S. troops invaded Iraq in March 2003.

"I have great respect for the millions of Iraqis who refused to be deterred by acts of violence, and who exercised their right to vote today," President Obama said Sunday afternoon. "Their participation demonstrates that the Iraqi people have chosen to shape their future through the political process."

Re-invented nationalist prime minister Nouri al-Maliki will probably be able to create a coalition that will keep him in office. But he will almost certainly have to include both the secular party headed up by former interim prime minister Alawyi and at least one of the major Sunni parties. Will his Shia brothers sit still for this? The Shia faction unashamedly aligned with Iran might cause a lot of mischief if they've a mind to. And there is no guarantee that some of the Shia militias won't start up the vicious cycle of sectarian violence that the US military helped tamp down over the last 2 years.

We probably couldn't affect events very much even if we weren't drawing down our forces. It's up to the Iraqis themselves now. It will be messy and perhaps bloody. But they must work out their own political arrangements - starting now.




The enemies of democracy in Iraq tried very hard to disrupt the vote yesterday. But it appears that there was a massive turnout in spite of the violence and that the political map of the country was redrawn.

Sunnis, who boycotted the last election in Iraq, participated in huge numbers this time around. As a counterweight to Iranian influence, this is welcome news. But will the Shias grant the Sunnis any power sharing arrangements at all?

On such questions, the future of Iraq hinges.

Washington Post:

Like past Iraqi elections, Sunday's vote will almost certainly be followed by fierce and protracted jockeying as coalitions recalibrate alliances and wrangle over top jobs. The process is expected to drag on for months, with political fights potentially spilling back into the streets and deepening sectarian and ethnic divides as Iraqis enter an era in which the United States will be increasingly powerless to shape events.

"It's certainly possible that the losers will not accept their defeat," said Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq expert at the International Crisis Group. Results are not expected for a day or more.

U.S. officials hailed the vote as a milestone that they hope will allow a smooth reduction of their country's footprint this summer. U.S. troops invaded Iraq in March 2003.

"I have great respect for the millions of Iraqis who refused to be deterred by acts of violence, and who exercised their right to vote today," President Obama said Sunday afternoon. "Their participation demonstrates that the Iraqi people have chosen to shape their future through the political process."

Re-invented nationalist prime minister Nouri al-Maliki will probably be able to create a coalition that will keep him in office. But he will almost certainly have to include both the secular party headed up by former interim prime minister Alawyi and at least one of the major Sunni parties. Will his Shia brothers sit still for this? The Shia faction unashamedly aligned with Iran might cause a lot of mischief if they've a mind to. And there is no guarantee that some of the Shia militias won't start up the vicious cycle of sectarian violence that the US military helped tamp down over the last 2 years.

We probably couldn't affect events very much even if we weren't drawing down our forces. It's up to the Iraqis themselves now. It will be messy and perhaps bloody. But they must work out their own political arrangements - starting now.