Saturday, October 15, 2005

50 million purple fingers and counting... 
The election in Iraq seems to have had an even better turnout than last time. And terrorists - yes, CNN, terrorists - have failed to significantly disrupt the election.

I noticed Wolf Blitzer and his Situation Room crew on CNN yesterday afternoon breathlessly lamenting the attack on a power line into Baghdad yesterday, which cut off power to some 70 percent of the city, as if it were the second Tet Offensive.

Saboteurs have been attacking Iraqi power lines at least since July 2003. I know because I used to see what they did on the highway that led between Ar Ramadi and the highway that leads up to Haditha and Al Qaim.

They would send someone to climb the towers and attach hooks or ties, and then they'd use trucks to pull them down. They did this all the time, and were occasionally successful in disrupting power to the city in so doing.

Big deal. We can't even keep the lights on in Los Angeles, Wolf. Have a little perspective.

I'm sure the terrorists would have liked to disrupt communication among security forces, and I wondered if the terrorists would follow up their limited success with an offensive in Baghdad that WOULD have the potential to disrupt the elections.

They did not.

The only reason I can think of that they did not is that they no longer have the combat power to do so in Baghdad. They seem to be able to operate in significant formations near what is obviously their base of support in Syria, but they seem to have been reduced to banditry and terrorism in Baghdad.

This is terrific news. I am curious to see some more detailed reports from al Qaim and Haditha, where the insurgency is strongest at the moment, and from Fallujah.

The excellent Bill Roggio - whom I don't link to often enough - has more.

As does Chester. Who reports that turnout in Tikrit is estimated to be 78 percent.

That's a lot of "no votes."

It's also, to my eyes, a sign that the Ba'athist insurgency is finished. It failed to even make a serious attempt to disrupt the election on its own turf.

That or they think a heavy turnout can result in a "no" vote. But even that would be a victory for democracy in Iraq.

Iraq the Model has the local-yokel poop:

It is really amazing how things have changed in Iraq; three years ago Saddam “won” 100% of the votes in a pathetic referendum that he designed in order to give legitimacy to his reign while yesterday even security detainees were allowed to express their opinion on the constitution through voting and the government and parliament are almost begging the 15 million plus voters to say ‘yes’!
And although many signs indicate that the document is on its way to be ratified, no one can say it is until the people decide which checkbox to tic tomorrow.
Some people would say “Is that all you won, after more than two years of war and violence? That’s only one basic right” well, that is the point; we’ve secured one key right that can help us secure the rest. [snip]

The turnout in our district looks quiet good and actually going to the voting office was a good opportunity to meet some friends I haven’t seen in months.
I met one friend on the way and when I asked him what would his vote be he said that he hasn’t decided yet “if I voted yes I would be approving some articles that I don’t agree with and if I voted no we would go back to where we started from…” he said and that was really refreshing because this guy who used to believe in conspiracy theories and stuff like “what America wants is what’s going to happen” now feels that his vote can make a difference.

He also reports through his own sources that turnout is light in Erbil, as Kurds are disappointed in some of the concessions made to lure Muslim Sunni to the polls.

But if turnout in other Sunni areas is as heavy as it is in Tikrit, I think the forces of democracy just delivered a strategic body blow to the terrorists. Once Sunnis vote, and see that their votes are counted, they are going to want to vote again. The last minute concessions, I think, were a good gambit. In the long run, the Iraqi people will gain much more from legitimate Sunni buy-in (as evidenced by the decision of the most prominent Sunni political party to drop its opposition to the constitution) than they gave up on some smaller details. If the Sunni buy in, then Shia and Kurd autonomy become less of an issue.

Zayed resurfaces for the first time since March, and simply reports "I voted against."

Riverbend posts today as well.

The referendum is only hours away and the final version of the constitution still hasn’t reached many people. Areas with a Sunni majority are complaining that there aren’t polling stations for kilometers around- many of these people don’t have cars and even if they did, what good would it do while there’s a curfew until Sunday? Polling stations should be easily accessible in every area.

This is like déjà vu from January when people in Mosul and other Sunni areas complained that they didn’t have centers to vote in or that their ballot boxes never made it to the counting stations.

Well, Riverbend, Sunni areas will get exactly the number of polling stations they are able, with available security forces, to secure, and no more. Since Sunnis boycotted the last elections, and since so many Sunni looked the other way as Al Qaeda slaughtered policemen and ICDC and ING forces last year and the year before, and since so many Sunni clerics exhorted the people not to join the security forces that would now be helping to secure polling sites in your neighborhoods, then it seems to me that your Sunni community made its own bed.

Splash, out


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