December 15, 2005


Iraqis vote for first full-term parliament amid tight security (Bassem Mroue, December 15, 2005, Associated Press)

Iraqis voted Thursday in one of the largest and freest elections in the Arab world, with strong turnout reported in Sunni areas and even a shortage of ballots in some precincts. Several explosions rocked Baghdad throughout the day, but the level of violence was low. [...]

Officials were forced to extend voting for one hour, until 6 p.m. (10 a.m. EST) as long lines were reported in some precincts, which election commission spokesman Farid Ayar called a sign that the balloting "was successful and turnout was good.'' Results will be announced within two weeks.

Police guarding a polling place in eastern Baghdad's Zayouna neighborhood fired shots in the air to celebrate the end of voting there. [...]

[V]iolence was light overall and did not appear to discourage Iraqis, some of whom turned out wrapped in their flag on a bright, sunny day, and afterward displayed a purple ink-stained index finger — a mark to guard against multiple voting. One jubilant Shiite voter in Baghdad proudly displayed all 10 of his fingers stained with ink.

Katherine Harris supervised that polling place....

Turnout Strong in Iraqi Elections: Reports of Violence Isolated as Insurgents Suspend Attacks, Encourage Voting (Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer, 12/15/05, Washington Post )

Iraqi voters turned out in force countrywide Thursday to elect a parliament to remake their troubled nation, with Sunni-led Iraqi insurgent movements suspending attacks for a day so that Sunni Arabs could vote en masse for the first time.

The voting appeared to split along sectarian lines as expected, with many Sunni voters in the Sunni-dominated far west saying they were voting for Sunni candidates. Long lines were reported among Sunnis, most of whom boycotted elections earlier this year or were frightened away by threats.

There were no boycotts this time and insurgents were providing security at some polling places. In Ramadi, for example, guerrillas of the Iraqi Islamic Army movement took up positions in some neighborhoods, promising to protect voters from any attacks by foreign fighters.

For today's voting, Sunni clerics not only lifted a boycott call that had suppressed Sunni turnout in January's national elections but actively encouraged voting.

"Right now the city is experiencing a democratic celebration," Mayor Dari Abdul Hadi Zubaie said in Fallujah, where voters streamed to the polls. "It's an election wedding."

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 15, 2005 3:29 PM

In early returns, the Zarkman's list has yet to receive a single vote.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 15, 2005 7:18 PM

"There were no boycotts this time and insurgents were providing security at some polling places."

Can you say 'tipping point'?

Just a hunch, but I wonder if former-Baathists who want to take power by force have finally figured out that their only chance is to get us out of Iraq ASAP, and the way to do that is by laying low for a spell, and not killing Americans with IEDs (given Bush's resolve). Won't work, I don't think, given that our training of Iraqi troops won't cease even if we're withdrawing brigades or divisions of American troops, but what other choice do the 'insurgents' have?

A related thought: when we finish our training of Iraqi infantry and officers in a year or two, will Iraq have the third best-trained (not the largest/strongest) army in the world?

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at December 15, 2005 7:39 PM

Iraq will have the best trained Arab army. Whether we can overcome the problems identified by Col. De Atkine is a question only time will tell.

Posted by: Mikey at December 16, 2005 8:35 AM