December 15, 2005


Day the ballot beat the bombers (Oliver Poole in Tal Afar and Anton La Guardia, 16/12/2005, Daily Telegraph)

For the first time since the fall of Saddam, Sunnis turned out to vote in large numbers, alongside the Shia and the Kurds. Even in the Sunni stronghold of Tal Afar, the scene of fierce fighting three months ago, queues formed outside polling stations despite four mortar attacks that killed two people.

Saadallah, 37, an unemployed man voting for the first time, said: "I must vote because it is not up to the Americans to determine the future. This is our country."

Anwar Fathi, 26, a teacher, said: "What you see here is hope - the hope that Iraq will become safer and fairer. I feel very confident when I see so many people voting."

The electoral commission's preliminary estimates showed that 80 per cent of the electorate voted in some Kurdish areas; in the Shia towns of Hilla and Najaf the figure was 70 per cent; in Anbar province, which has been at the heart of the rebellion, a strong turnout was reported.

Demand was so high in Fallujah, the first city to rise against the Americans, that the supply of ballot papers ran out. Election officials extended the voting period by an hour to cope with the numbers.

And Zarqawi offers them what, instead?

Freedom From Fear Lifts Sunnis (JOHN F. BURNS, 2/16/05, NY Times)

Ali is only 9 years old. But when he and his buddies broke away from a street soccer game to drop into a polling station in Baghdad's Adhamiya district at noon on Thursday, Ali, a chirpy, tousle-haired youngster, seemed to catch the mood of the district's Sunni Arab population as well as anybody.

"We don't want car bombs, we want security," he said. Yards away, Sunni grown-ups were casting ballots in classrooms where the boys would have been studying Arabic or arithmetic or geography - "Boring, boring!" said Ali - had the school not been drafted for use as one of 6,000 polling stations across Iraq.

On a day when the high voter turnout among Sunni Arabs was the main surprise, Ali and his posse of friends, unguarded as boys can be, acted like a chorus for the scene unfolding about them. A new willingness to distance themselves from the insurgency, an absence of hostility for Americans, a casual contempt for Saddam Hussein, a yearning for Sunnis to find a place for themselves in the post-Hussein Iraq - the boys' themes were their parents', too, only more boldly expressed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 15, 2005 10:45 PM

The MSM has sure done a good job at giving the impression that the only two choices for Iraqis is to either side with the terrorists, or side with the United States interests. Nevermind the nonviolent Arabs who want nothing to do the terrorists, but still hate the US for what it has done to corrupt the politics of the whole region for the past 50 years. But, alas, usually the microphones only go to the stereotypical angry Muslims or the pseudo-intellectual US foreign policy puppet area-experts whose words are taken for truth because they speak with an accent and have a funny last name.

Posted by: Grog at December 16, 2005 1:16 AM

Thank Allah there's always someone (i.e., the US, Israel) to blame.

Where would the Arab world (and its friends) be otherwise.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 16, 2005 3:57 AM

Grog: Couldn't agree more. In a rational world, the Scowcrofts and Brezinskis and the other "realists," and their friends like Arafat and the Sauds, would be turned over to the Arab street for a little streetcorner justice.

Could yet happen.

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 16, 2005 6:53 AM

And yet here we are. It's easy to second-guess past mistakes; it costs us nothing. On the other hand, the USSR no longer exists, so they must have done something right. If we now have to spend some time cleaning up the mess we made, so be it.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 16, 2005 7:32 AM

And the ones who hate us for imposing an imperial era when they could have been developing democracy are on the side of the United States.

Posted by: oj at December 16, 2005 7:52 AM

Grog: We're trying to fix things now. My question to you is this: "Are you going to stand there and whine, carp, and moan about what went on in the Cold War, or are you going to actually help us do this?"

The choice is yours, pal. Choose wisely.

Posted by: Mikey at December 16, 2005 8:21 AM

We'll save one troll at time until they are all safely on the side of the good guys.

Posted by: erp at December 16, 2005 2:47 PM

Not a single one of you addressed my point. How pathetic. Anyone want to make a comment that is actually relevant to my claims?

Posted by: Grog at December 19, 2005 2:43 AM