Iraqis go to the polls in provincial elections

posted at 7:11 am on January 31, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Iraqis go to the polling booth today in their first provincial elections in the post-Saddam era.  The BBC reports that while the Iraqis have put tight security measures in place and mortars have hit occasionally, a festive mood has broken out in Iraq.  Turnout appears heavy, especially among the Sunni:

Iraqis are electing new provincial councils in the first nationwide vote in four years, with the Sunni minority expected to turn out in strength.

After a slow start, correspondents said voting was brisk, including among Sunni Muslims, who largely boycotted the last elections.

The vote is seen as a test of Iraq’s stability ahead of a general election due later this year.

Security is tight and thousands of observers are monitoring the polls.

The Sunnis learned a lesson from 2005, when they boycotted two elections.  They expected the Shi’ites and Kurds to woo them and get a better deal, but instead they got marginalized in the National Assembly.  That prompted the Sunni to ally themselves with al-Qaeda and native insurgents, which was an even bigger mistake.  This time they plan on participating to ensure proper representation — a victory for democracy.

How big of a change will we see?  In 2005, the Sunnis had a 2% turnout.  The head of Anbar’s electoral board expects a 60% turnout this time.  It demonstrates the radical shift in thinking among the Sunni about national unity, but to be fair, it also demonstrates the transformation of the security situation in Anbar and other Sunni areas.  While there were plenty of refuseniks in 2005, many people got intimidated into staying home by the insurgents and AQI terrorists in the previous national elections.

Iraqi security forces expected an effort by terrorists to disrupt the elections this time as well, specifically by using women as suicide bombers.  Their culture does not allow for men to search women — for that matter, neither does ours under normal circumstances — so the Iraqis hired hundreds of women to perform that task instead.  The traffic bans and closed borders of the 2004 and 2005 elections are back, even though the danger has grown much smaller in the intervening years.  They’re taking few chances, and at least so far it’s been successful.

The Shi’ites may have their own transformation in these elections.  The previous elections produced large support for theocratic parties, but this time observers believe that they will lose significant ground to nationalist and/or secular parties.  Without the Mahdis gripping the Shi’ite areas, the people want to get away from imam rule.  Moqtada al-Sadr will disappear even further into oblivion.

This is what victory looks like.


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Comment pages: 1 2

When would you say victory over Germany and Japan in WWII was achieved? Just curious….

Pianobuff on January 31, 2009 at 1:44 PM

When the diehard surviving Nazis and Tojoists weren’t supported by hundreds of willing morons ready to martyr themselves.

Speedwagon82 on January 31, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Also, when crowds of Germans and Japanese weren’t burning effigies of FDR and Truman.

Speedwagon82 on January 31, 2009 at 4:04 PM

I am glad they have both their freedom and their country back.

I really do believe it is about time for the US to leave.

Pluse this would defuse ohh half of the muslims worldwide

Ohh and too all of you obama liberals
We never took a drop of the iraqis oil..
We didnt bankrupt them
We didnt abuse them

Unlike what obama is doing right now to the usa..

I wonder would we be better off in iraq?

jcila on January 31, 2009 at 4:47 PM

o/t:

I like this, after you vote, stick your finger in ink concept. Wouldn’t this help tell who voted already and who didn’t?

PappaMac on January 31, 2009 at 5:25 PM

Actually we had nothing to do with the elections today. I know , I’m here. The U.S. had virtually no troops on the streets today as we were all sitting in our FOB’s and COP’s hoping for a good outcome. In fact it was hard to tell what was going on because we didn’t have a presence out on the streets. It was all 100% Iraqi today folks, and the turnout was far better than what we get in the U.S. relatively speaking. Regardless of how they might or might not feel about us, or how certain a** hats feel back in the states, I feel pretty damn proud today of the Iraqi people I have come to know so well over the past six years.

gator70 on January 31, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Thank you for your service and being a part of over 25 million people being freed from one of the worst genocidal terrorist dictators in history.

Free elections with Iraqis controlling their own security
is yet another example of how wrong the “super intelligent,peace loving liberals” were about the Iraq war.

How are all those “Save Darfur” and “free Tibet” bumper stickers working out liberals.

Don’t remember all that talk about following the UN when Clinton was going into Bosnia without UN approval.
No marches in the streets,cries of war crimes while we bombed civilians from above,no whining about it costing to much.

I mean come on,first they yell and scream that the war is all about oil,then they get mad when we are not taking their oil.
Kind of like calling Bush a liar for saying the exact things about Saddam that liberals said years before he even became President and up until the time they voted for war.

Now they want to cut defense over 10% while we are at war so they can give “surplus checks” to people who don’t pay taxes and their friends in the Unions.
How intelligent!!!

Can’t wait to hear all this complaining about “deficits” after Obama is going to have more than tripled it in about 6 months.

Thank God President Bush/American Soldier stayed strong and defeated the Jihadist in the central front of the War on Terror and accomplished something all the “smart ones” waving the peace sign and yelling for surrender will never do,actually bring Freedom.

Baxter Greene on January 31, 2009 at 6:26 PM

A republican leader with vision ought to suggest that we invite some of our Iraqi friends over to America so serve an honorary function as “watchers” or “overseers” of our 2010 elections.

The subtext? President Bush’s successful mission in Iraq has made Iraqis value an open and honest vote more than the Democrat Party values it here in America.

We need members of a REAL democracy to teach the Democrat Party how an election works.

I’m tired of our banana republic.

jeff_from_mpls on January 31, 2009 at 7:10 PM

Must be nice, gator70. I just got back from a 22 hour mission of patrolling and providing overwatch for the ISF.

We didn’t go to the polling sites other than to drop off and pick back up equipment but to say that we had nothing to do with the elections is simply not true.

JasonG on January 31, 2009 at 7:39 PM

Smiling Iraqis proudly voting and showing off their ink stained fingers.
I Blame George Bush ! **
Iraqi Women with the same voting rights as men.
I Blame George Bush ! **
Proud parents taking their kids along to begin teaching them about what a democracy is.
I Blame George Bush ! **

** along with the U S Military…

Red State State of Mind on January 31, 2009 at 7:48 PM

Red State State of Mind on January 31, 2009 at 7:48 PM

Amen! Thank you George W Bush and thank you troops for our AND THEIR freedom! God bless you all!

Christian Conservative on February 1, 2009 at 12:07 AM

“It wouldn’t be prudent for Obama to highlight his failure to support the surge…
RedSoxNation”

Why? He could always be honest and transparent, get up there and tell the folks if he had his way half of them would be dead today!

BTW could we just put the Kurds in charge? They seem to be the sane ones

DSchoen on February 1, 2009 at 12:14 AM

JasonG on January 31, 2009 at 7:39 PM

Don’t give me that must be nice crap. Everyone has their own misery. The Majority of combat troops had to sit tight and couldn’t even be in sight of the polls. You know this so quit making it sound like JasonG carried the weight of Iraq on his shoulders.

gator70 on February 1, 2009 at 12:15 AM

Lets see? Hummm, its only for oil? What did the PRESIDENT say before the invasion?

The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home.

. “I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq’s history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else”.

What an IDIOT! Not knowing about the Sunni Shi’ites and Kurds.!

Isn’t that what the HARE Bush crowds been saying for YEARS! Oh well I guess the President was RIGHT AGAIN!

“The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life”.

Check! Its going that way now!

“The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists”

I guess this is why some folks think Saddam was working with terrorist. Oh well the President can’t be right on everything.

“If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow”

Check! We did respond and Saddam’s gone!

Nope, oil is not mentioned.

DSchoen on February 1, 2009 at 12:36 AM

Easy gator70, all I was saying was that the majority of the personnel from my FOB, even some non-Infantry types, were out and about on patrol today.

Sounds like someone needs a nap from all the time spent playing Playstation on his FOB.

JasonG on February 1, 2009 at 3:58 AM

Sounds like someone needs a nap from all the time spent playing Playstation on his FOB.

JasonG on February 1, 2009 at 3:58 AM

It was 360. Not Playstation. Come on. Get it right.

Just giving you crap gator. I’ve been there and been a fobbit before (OIF2 Camp Taji). I can give and take it.

Glad I’m done with that. Much better being able to get out and do some real soldiering.

thomashton on February 2, 2009 at 12:19 PM

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