January 30, 2005

Iraqis Vote


From CNN: Iraqis vote amid violence.

Millions of Iraqis braved the threat of attacks Sunday to cast ballots in the nation's first free elections in half a century -- a vote hailed by officials as a success in the face of an insurgency. ...

Insurgents had vowed to wash the streets with "voters' blood," and more than a dozen attacks killed more than two dozen people and wounded 71 others.

But authorities said extensive security measures prevented more widespread car bombings and other attacks that many had feared would mar the elections.

After the voting, President Bush said the balloting was a "resounding success" and praised Iraqis who "have taken rightful control of their country's destiny."...

Many voters proudly displayed their ink-stained fingers in defiance of the insurgency. Each person who voted dipped his or her finger in ink to prevent people from voting twice.

UPDATE I -- February 2: This cartoon appeared in yesterday's (Tuesday's) The Detroit News.

UPDATE II - February 4: From The New York Times: Shiite Coalition Takes a Big Lead in Early Vote Count in Iraq.

Preliminary election returns released Thursday by Iraqi authorities showed that 72 percent of the 1.6 million votes counted so far from Sunday's election went to an alliance of Shiite parties dominated by religious groups with strong links to Iran. Only 18 percent went to a group led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite who favors strong ties to the United States. Few votes went to Sunni candidates. ...

Election officials emphasized that the results were preliminary, and pleaded for caution in extrapolating from them. ...

The strong showing by the religious group, the United Iraqi Alliance, appeared especially in the partial returns for Baghdad, home to 6 million of Iraq's 28 million people and counted as a province in itself. Although Baghdad is a cosmopolitan city, with large populations of Sunnis and Kurds as well as Shiites, the religious alliance took 61 percent of the early vote in the capital, against about 25 percent for Dr. Allawi's group, known as the Iraqi List.

Only one other party took more than 1 percent of the first votes counted in Baghdad and the southern provinces, and that was another group with Shiite religious ties.

The group, the National Independent Elites and Cadres, which has strong links to Moktada al-Sadr, the young cleric who twice last year led uprisings against American forces, had 1.5 percent of the votes counted so far. In Baghdad, where the Sadr City neighborhood is Mr. Sadr's main bastion, the group took nearly 2 percent.

More on the subject of a possible Islamic theocracy in Iraq here and here.

UPDATE III -- February 7: The New York Times has two stories on Iraq and theocracy: From yesterday, Leading Shiite Cleric Pushing for Islamic Constitution in Iraq, and from today, U.S. Officials Say a Theocratic Iraq is Unlikely. "Unlikely" is not exactly reassuring.

Posted by Forkum at January 30, 2005 08:19 PM