December 14, 2005


Sunni politician says Iraq poll could prompt talks with US (Steve Negus, Financial Times, 12/13/2005)

A leading Sunni Arab politician is predicting that Thursday’s parliamentary elections in Iraq will pave the way for negotiations between the US and Sunni leaders on reducing the violence.

Saleh al-Mutlek, a prominent candidate on the list of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, one of two new Sunni-led coalitions contesting the elections to the first permanent postwar parliament, said such talks could get US troops out of Iraq cities and isolate radicals responsible for attacks on civilians.

“I think we will be able to talk to the Americans in a democratic way through parliament to convince them that they should withdraw from the cities,” he said.

Soldiers play vital role in Iraq’s polling strategy (Neil MacDonald, Financial Times, 12/13/2005)

Scanning the ditches for concealed bombs on Tuesday morning, convoy comman­der Captain Wahab Abu Abbas also took in the numerous Iraqi election banners posted along the main route to Baqouba. Spotting a poster for Iyad Allawi’s secular list, he rattled off a mildly derisive rhyming couplet about the former interim prime minister.

But he and the soldiers with him in the unarmoured Toyota pick-up – the standard patrol vehicle for most of Iraq’s new army – also took some good-humoured potshots at Ibrahim al-Jafari, Iraq’s current prime minister, who was put in office by the Shia religious-leaning United Iraqi Alliance earlier this year.

The soldiers were part of a countrywide Iraqi army operation, escorting truckloads of election materials from 18 provincial capitals to dozens of smaller cities and towns, the staging points to every polling site in tomorrow’s national parliamentary elections.

Capt Wahab’s five machinegun-mounted Toyotas and three larger vans were the first to arrive at Baqouba, capital of the ethnically diverse Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, where they picked up four civilian delivery trucks containing about 200,000 ballots, packed under United Nations supervision, for the run back to the battalion’s home base next to Muqdadiya, 50km to the north.


While airing their political differences openly, the mostly Shia members of the Iraqi 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade also appear to take their role as guardians of the election process very seriously.

This wasn't supposed to happen. Iraqis are supposed to be incapable of democracy, and the civil war was supposed to be well underway by now. Has someone informed Fred Kaplan of these developments?

Posted by kevin_whited at December 14, 2005 11:51 AM

Forget Fred Kaplan, someone tell Kevin Drum.

Posted by: Steve White at December 14, 2005 6:11 PM

Shouldn't the Sunni"s be negotiating with the Kurds and the Shia?

Posted by: jdkelly at December 14, 2005 6:15 PM