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January 30, 2005

Blogging The Iraqi Election

30cnd-iraq01.1841.jpg Voter turnout in Iraq exceeded predictions Sunday. The number of voters at the polls was estimated by one Iraqi election official at a surprising 72%. Contrast that with US voter turnout between 1960 and 2000, which varies between 36 and 63 percent. Don't let anyone tell you these people aren't "ready for democracy":

The official, Adel al-Lami of the Independent Electoral Commission, offered no overall figures of the actual number of Iraqis who have voted to back up the claim.

Al-Lami said the percentage of registered voters who had gone to the polls in some Baghdad neighborhoods was as high as 95 percent.

Iraqi officials had predicted that up to eight million of 14 million eligible voters - just over 57 percent - will turn out for Sunday's election to choose a National Assembly and governing councils in the 18 provinces.

Iraqis defied scattered attacks by terrorists to cast their votes:

After a slow start, voters turned out in very large numbers in Baghdad today, packing polling places and creating a party atmosphere in the streets, which were closed to traffic but full of children playing soccer, and men and women, some carrying babies.

After eight hours of voting, with two to go, American officials were showing confidence that today was going to be an amazing success, although they were still wary of major attacks.

In the Karada district of central Baghdad, everyone, it seemed, was walking to the polls, where they lined up to vote 50 people deep.

They dropped their ballots into boxes even as continuous mortar shells started going off at about noon, without reports of major casualties, and despite two suicide bombings that killed at least six people. There were news agency reports from other parts of the country that 29 people were killed in attacks on polling stations.

There was some confusion at a Karada polling station, but in the main it was very orderly and very smooth, with very tight security.

If the insurgents wanted to stop people from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed.

The atmosphere in the usually grim capital, a city at war and an ethnic microcosm of the country, had changed, with people dressed in their finest clothes in what was generally a convivial mood.

"You can feel the enthusiasm," Col. Mike Murray of the First Cavalry Regiment, said outside a polling station in Karada, who added that the scene in Karada was essentially true for the whole area.

In Khadamiya, a mixed area in northwest Baghdad, the turnout was also large, with some representatives of political parties saying the turnout could approach 80 percent.

Even in the so-called Sunni Triangle people voted, too. In Baquba, 60 miles north of Baghdad, all the polling stations that reported indicated a huge turnout.

In Mosul, the restive city to the north, large turnouts were reported, even in the Sunni Muslim areas. There was discontent among Kurds, however, because election boxes were not delivered. They asked for a 24-hour extension of the election, but officials said that was not possible.

In addition to defying the terrorists, the Iraqis defied the low expectations of pundits who expected them to cower in their homes on election day. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, they are optimistic about the future and determined to see a free and democratic Iraq:

"We now have our freedom," he said. "After 35 years, we finally got rid of Saddam and now we can vote for whoever we want.

"After casting my ballots, I'm hoping that the situation will improve."

In the largely Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, many Iraqis, particularly followers of Ayatollah Sistani, said they would brave bombs and gunfire to cast a ballot.

"I voted under Saddam - it was bogus - and now I am ready for a real election," said Mohsin Abdul Ruda, a 50-year-old shopkeeper, who lives down the street from a girls' school that will serve as his neighborhood's polling place. "Everyone in the neighborhood is going to vote."

Mr. Ruda said he planned to vote for the United Iraq Alliance, the coalition of mostly Shiite parties brought together by Ayatollah Sistani.

As he spoke, three loud explosions echoed nearby.

"There is no fear," Mr. Ruda said, waving his hand. "Only cowards will be afraid to vote."

kurds.jpg Al-Jazeera characterized Iraqi response to the election as "mixed":

A number of Mosul's Kurdish residents have defied death threats and an unstable security situation and headed towards the polls, but in some other Iraqi cities no one is voting.

As polls opened across the country, early signs showed a poor turnout of voters in Mosul. US soldiers were seen driving around city blocks asking why residents were not voting.

Despite a heavy US and Iraqi National Guard presence and no civilian vehicular traffic, six explosions rocked the city. The general hospital had no immediate word on casualties.

The Arab news network called Sunni turnout "negligible":

iraqiwomen.jpg

Polling stations in several towns in Iraq have not opened five hours after nationwide voting started on Sunday, the country's electoral commission said.

"In Latifiya, Mahmudiya and Yusufiya, polling stations have not yet opened their doors," commission spokesman Farid Ayar told reporters.

In war-ravaged Falluja, nearly all residents stayed at home despite the presence of five polling stations. Only one man was reported to have voted.

Meanwhile, the head of the local council in Samarra said no citizens would vote because of the poor security situation.

"Nobody will vote in Samarra because of the security situation," said Taha Husain, the head of Samarra's local governing council.

No employees turned up at polling centres in Samarra and police were not to be seen on the streets, an agency correspondent reported.

The WaPo cited the same information:

Officials acknowledged that some stations never opened at all, however, particularly in areas of frequent insurgent attacks dominated by Sunni Muslims such as Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra. west and north of Baghdad.

And in some restive cities where the polls were operating, the voters were not.

At one polling place in southeast Mosul, for example, the only voters by late in the day were 15 Iraqi security forces assigned to keep the peace.

But despite scattered problems, Iraqi officials were jubilant:

Adil Allami, chief electoral officer of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, was exultant. "Freedom has won," he said. "We have conquered terrorism."
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, looking relaxed in a navy blue blazer and white pants, beamed as he cast his vote at a polling station in the U.S.-protected Green Zone at 9:40 a.m. Baghdad time (1:40 a.m. EST). "It felt "great," he said afterward. "It's history in the making."

"Iraqis have proved today that the strength of their votes is more powerful than the effects of bullets or terrorists," said Ibrahim Jafari, an interim vice president and the head of the religiously conservative Dawa Party. He said the vote he cast Sunday was the first in his life.

And fittingly, it was not US, but Iraqi troops that manned the polls to protect voters as they cast their historic votes on Sunday:

As part of a plan to put Iraqi security forces out front, U.S. troops pulled back their positions away from polling centers but maintained a strong presence on the streets. Quick-response units stood by to deal with potential attacks and American jets and helicopters zoomed overhead.

ink.jpgIraqis leaving the polls could be identified by their ink-stained fingers:

"I'm proud of this ink," said resident Jabber Hajer, 65, proudly waving an index finger soaked to the knuckle in purple ink to prevent multiple voting. "To me, it represents freedom. We want the elections like the thirsty want water. Those who do not participate are the losers."

UPDATE: From Alaa at The Mesopotamian:

Behold the Iraqi people; now you know their true metal. We shall never forget the meanness of these bas…s. After this is over there will be no let up, they must be wiped out. It is our duty and the duty of every decent human to make sure this vermin is no more and that no more innocent decent people are victimized.

My condolences to the Great American people for the tragic recent losses of soldiers. The blood of Iraqis and Americans is being shed on the soil of Mesopotamia; a baptism with blood. A baptism of a lasting friendship and alliance, for many years to come, through thick and thin, we shall never forget the brave soldiers fallen while defending our freedom and future.

This is a very hurried message, while we are witnessing something quite extraordinary. I myself have voted and so did members of my family. Thank God for giving us the chance.

Amen. And thank you, brother. The hopes and fears of countless Americans are with you on this historic day, and will continue to be in the days to come. We have watched with our hearts in our mouths.

And some of us never doubted your courage. Not for an instant.

And from Mohammed and Omar at Iraq the Model:

Today, there's no voice louder than that of freedom.

No more confusion about what the people want, they have said their word and they said it loud and the world has got to respct and support the people's will.

God bless your brave steps sons of Iraq and God bless the defenders of freedom.

Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq.

The people have won.

UPDATE II: Jack has more reactions from other Arab news outlets - what I wanted to provide, but didn't. What would we do without other bloggers?

UPDATE III: Leopold Stotch:

Polls are closed in Iraq, and it’s being reported that 72 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. If this number holds true, this is an unmitigated success, regardless of likely regional disparities in voter turnout.

But there is an interesting subtext: over and over what Iraqis are saying is that they were “voting against terrorism” or that they “voted for peace.” Which means that this election went from a referendum on the American “occupation” to a rejection of the terrorism of Abu al-Zarqawi.

You lost me on that one... If you're saying that this constitutes a clear refutation of the media's attempts to portray this as a referendum on the American "occupation", I'm all over that ** :)

But this election is, and always has been, about the future of Iraq. It has always been about self-determination. And the future depends upon the willingness of ordinary Iraqis to stand on their own two feet and (pardon my Phrench) defy these murderous b*stards. And today, they passed their first test with flying colors.

** Update: Dr. Stotch says that is what he meant in the comments section.

Posted by Cassandra at January 30, 2005 08:44 AM

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Comments

Contrast this with Rev.(what church was that again Jesse?) Jackson's claims that Ohioans were "disengranchised" cuz they stood in a long line.

My head is about to explode...................Must--contain--temper.

Bravo Zulu Iraqis!!!


Greg

Posted by: Greg at January 30, 2005 09:38 AM

typo----"disenFranchised"

Greg

Posted by: Greg at January 30, 2005 09:39 AM

I thought you had it right the first time Greg! :-o

Did you catch The Reverend and Mizz Susan Ethridge on Geraldo last night? I guess it was sometime around 0300. Da Grunt even called to rant about the two of them. Jesse coined a new phrase you'll be sure to hear......... allot!...... "Gunpoint Democracy"! What a wordsmith. Good ol' Susan got to spout off about Bush Lied, Bush's War, "My good friend Teddy Kennedy", gag, barf, ad nauseum. Talk about making yourselves irrelevant! ;-)

Da Grunt and his squad felt it worth their while to stay up and watch the Fox all night. Imagine that! A bunch of mid-20s grunts actually watching world affairs! I wonder what the college kids that protested the war, the election, their mammas, Amerika, and their trust funds were doing last night? Guess I should've looked over at DU to see if they were up! :-o

What a glorious night/morning! If it weren't for the 5000 power surges we've had I would've blogged live all night. Or at least kept up a run of jibberish that would've possibly attained diarrheic proportions! Now that ought to bring up a lovely mental image!

Man, I'm still giddy! :-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at January 30, 2005 11:21 AM

Well hell, JHD, they made it happen.

They should be feeling mighty proud of themselves right about now.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 30, 2005 11:23 AM

The voter turnout was high despite road blocks, turning away people who couldn't read the ballot, and the request for identification. Amazing. In this country, that would be called voter intimidation. Oh, and the threat of bombs and RPG's. We are such a country of wimps sometimes.

Posted by: KJ at January 30, 2005 11:25 AM

Not all wimps KJ. I think Starship Troopers may have had it right! he-he!

Dam* if they didn't huh Cass? I don't know if I've ever been so proud of a bunch of American young men and women as I am now. Shoot, I'm all warm and fuzzy!

Now there's a scary thought! :-o

Posted by: JarheadDad at January 30, 2005 11:34 AM

Amen JHD , it's as happy as I've been since the news that we captured Saddam.Tell DaGrunt and his troop "Well Done Devil Dogs!".

Jesse and Susan on the other hand............where were the "human shield" volunteers for the election????Sure coulda used a few strategically placed around voting booths.


Greg

Posted by: Greg at January 30, 2005 11:40 AM

And in yet another example of the Houston Comical's cluelessness du jour...an Op-Ed by that great American Ramsey Clark on this great day. Ramsey has generously given his great ego(er, I mean talents) to defending Saddam.He must be feeling neglected after defending the OTHER humanitarian Milosevic in HIS war crimes trial.Houston MSM sucks.


Greg

Posted by: Greg at January 30, 2005 11:55 AM

Sorry if my OTB comment was unclear; what I meant was largely what you suggest -- that our media had for so long portrayed this vote as if it were going to be a case in which Iraqis went to the polls to vote for an Iraq free of American oppression. Yet what we're hearing from Iraqi voters is that in reality they reject the terrorism of the jihadists. All the while our media has alluded to the massive support for the insurgents among the Iraqi people; that seems handily refuted today.

Posted by: Dr. Leopold Stotch [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2005 12:37 PM

Friends, I must caution you to use restraint in your jubilation. For Senator Jean Fraude Kerrie has spoken:

But Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., sounded a note of caution in an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press."

"It is hard to say that something is legitimate when whole portions of the country can't vote and doesn't vote," Kerry said.
...

Although the Bush administration has said the mere fact that elections take place is a huge sign of progress, Sen. Kerry said the next step is more important.


"What the administration does in these next few days will decide the outcome of Iraq. And this is - not may be - this is the last chance for the president to get it right," Kerry said.


Personally, I will take a wait-and-see approach to these elections, this Gunpoint Democracy. When Jean Kerrie tells me things are fine, then and only then will I believe it.

Corks back in the champagne bottles please.

Posted by: MathMom at January 30, 2005 12:55 PM

Dr. Stotch:

I thought that was probably the case, it seemed more in keeping with other things you've written in the past. But I wasn't 100% certain. That's why I put that ridiculous smiley-face thing up there. I have a tendency to be a bit wry, and that doesn't always come across in print since you can't see my face :)

Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 30, 2005 01:08 PM

MathMom, did you see JFK on the tube today? He's running in 2008 - I almost lost my breakfast.

It was truly nauseating.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 30, 2005 01:09 PM

Yeah, I heard the voice of doom and gloom this morning.....and laughed my freaking a*s off.....

like a voice from an Iowa cornfield..."build it, and they will COME".....give people a chance at freedom, and they will sieze it like the last canape at a Georgetown Dem. cocktail party.Kerry (and his patron,Sweaty Teddy) see defeat everywhere.........I ain't as cynical as I seem about human nature.The Iraqi people have spoken, and the rad-left need to listen.


Greg

Posted by: Greg at January 30, 2005 01:10 PM

"Social Security is not a crisis...the true crisis is 40K Americans who do not have HEALTH CARE!!!"

[wretch...]

Posted by: Cassandra at January 30, 2005 01:10 PM

Or have health that sux! he-he!

Posted by: JarheadDad at January 30, 2005 01:14 PM

Cass -

I saw only a brief clip of the Crusher of Joy, but I think Meet the Press can be seen late in the day on one of the NBC cable stations. I'm getting a new package of Dramamine, and then I'll watch it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't he going on about how the elections wouldn't work, and now that they've worked, his entourage is moving the goalposts for him (for he might break a nail if he actually did any, you know, work) and his new stance is, oh I can't even figure it out.

Posted by: MathMom at January 30, 2005 01:15 PM

It just hit me like a truck...see that Iraqi in the first photo? He just showed more courage and character in that brief moment than Ted Kennedy has in his entire pitiful life.Can you imagine that young man leaving someone drowning in the Euphrates river?While he slimed his way to shore to talk to a lawyer? Must clean saliva from moniter now...........


Greg

Posted by: Greg at January 30, 2005 01:31 PM

JFK finally promised (again I think) to sign the forms that would release all of his military records. Wonder when that will really happen? January 2009 probably.

Posted by: KJ at January 30, 2005 01:53 PM

Cass, think about inking up your index finger this week -- it's the right thing to do! Or, I suppose, you could just paint your index finger nail blue, which would be way more stylin' on a woman.

Posted by: Jack at January 30, 2005 02:35 PM

Hey... here's a really radical idea for Sully's readers...

Why don't they quit their bitching and get behind the administration and the US military that made today's vote possible?.

Now there's a concept.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 30, 2005 02:49 PM

The sound of many swords being honed on the stones of liberty and hope:

"Let its people decide about their country's future," said Houshang Darab, 50, an Iranian textile broker who appealed to both the United States and Iran to avoid interfering in Iraq. "A secular, democratic government is the best choice since it would not have any excuse for war."

And so it grows...

Posted by: spd rdr at January 30, 2005 03:43 PM

I gave up on Sullivan when he endorsed Kerry for President. His rationale was something like "yeah, he's a lying SOB, and he wants to pull out of Iraq which will probably result in the enitre country going down the toilet, and he's not very reliable in the job he has (which is perhaps already exhausting his natural ability), but perhaps the thing that will really encourage him to be a man will be to hand him the reins of this country, and maybe he'll rise to the challenge." All I could think, was, AIDS dementia.

Posted by: MathMom at January 30, 2005 05:39 PM

which country had the 'large portions' that didn't vote? With a 72% voter turnout? Not only that, he is just being sour grapes because his name wasn't on the Iraq ballot, despite his early campaigning there. What a Party Pooper. I guess he couldn't scare up enough Marines to get signatures to put his name on the ballot.

There are just some duties Marines don't do, and babysitting whiny Senators is one of them.

I did read the links and am back for a second read. It seems that the only disenPhranchised
voters were the terrorized Sunnis, and well, I am sorry if they chose to absent themselves from such an important event. Or they were intimidated into not voting.

We had a celebratory dinner in honor of the election. We gave thanks for the sacrifices of
the US military and the Iraqi people who fought and died to end oppression, and that their new day
would dawn without bloodshed and brighter future.

Posted by: Cricket at January 30, 2005 06:22 PM

You silly, silly sheeple. You'll swallow anything the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Rums-Rice Reich feeds you, won't you?

The so called "Iraqi Elections" was nothing more than a government funded film made in the desert of California. Since flying all the dark skinned peoples out to the west coast cost a small fortune, well of COURSE there weren't any cars to be seen. No room in the budget for getting them shipped in. It was expensive enough transporting all those extras out there. Not to mention, imagine what was spent on the wardrobes and costumes. Go ahead! I dare you. Try and find ONE yard of black fabric at Joann's or Hancocks tomorrow!

When those millions of purple fingered Iraqi's die from (Haliburton) poisoned ink, it will be too late. Halli-Bush-Cheney-Rove-Rums-Rice will already have their grimey digits on all that oil, and then we're ALL of to the re-education camps!

NO INK FOR OIL!!

Posted by: CKC at January 30, 2005 06:43 PM

YIKES, CKC!

I inked my finger with a Sharpie permanent marker!! Am I going to die for my foolhardy show of solidarity with the actors and extras there in California?

Did they poison the ink to keep The Truth from getting out?

Posted by: MathMom at January 30, 2005 07:21 PM

MathMom,
If Hallibush-Cheney doesn't make Sharpee™ ink, you'll probably be OK.

Another tip: If you kool aid stain your lips, the peace-loving, anti-war, peace nicks won't beat you up for having the inky digit.

The ink was poisoned to GET THE OIL, MathMom. Of course it served two-fold as those brown skinned actors and extras can't obviously talk about it either after the Halli-Poison does its work.

Since the [eSTEAMED] Senate Intelligentsia Trinity already inferred that the Iraqi's are too stupid to vote and establish democracy, those 8 million that were stupid enough to allow themselves to be hired for the film won't be missed by their remaining (not so bright) Iraqi citizens.

Bush-Cheney-Rove-Rums-Rice Reich knew all this, too. There was hardly a need for them to calculate any sort of *risk*.

If you're really worried, MathMom, just splint it, and wrap up that Sharpee'd finger in a few of those Kerry Purple Heart Bandaids. That should help you escape the wrath of the peace protestor dove people.

Glad I could help.

Posted by: CKC at January 30, 2005 07:53 PM

I just sneaked over to ScrappleBurg and looked to see if The Great Santini had favored us with a song, and lo, he had!

Read it with a hankie...

♪ ♪ ♪ INKED DIGIT ♪ ♪ ♪

[Tune: "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"/"God Save the Queen" (in honor of American and British troops, who did most of the coalition's fighting and dying)]

Inked-digit insurgency,
Sweet badge of liberty...
Iraq lives, free!

Who thought they'd see the day
When Saddam had no say?
Inked digits have won the affray
O'er his tyranny!

Let doubters on their bums
Sneer, quibble, spout hokum...
Zarqawi's done!

He and his thugs can't kill
Freedom and Iraqis' will,
Inked digits in his face and grille
Let freedom ring!!!

Lest we forget the dead,
The wounded in their beds,
Their bravery...

Stood in harm's way to see
Iraq claim liberty
Inked digits are their victory
Honor never fades!!!

Posted by The Great Santini at January 30, 2005 04:55 PM


Whoa - the preview makes this look all run together - hope it breaks into verses when I hit the Post button! In case Santini strolls by here, I must say Grrrrrrrrrr8!

Posted by: MathMom at January 30, 2005 08:33 PM

CKC -

Just back from the store, have the KoolAid, have the Band-aids (SpongeBob had to suffice, no Purple Heart-aids there). Splint in place, now I'll see if the ink is harmless, or if HalliBush-Cheney is in the Sharpie ink bidness...

Posted by: MathMom at January 30, 2005 08:37 PM

So how many young Iraqi males do you think voted, then went up to one of their buddies, stuck the purple/blue inked finger in their face, and said, "Hey, smell my finger"?

Of course, Ben used to do that to Matt all the time, and JLo offered little protest. It made Matt really uncomfortable. He is such a gentleman. I was really glad when JLo slept with Matt as revenge against Ben for doing that. Of course, she didn't have the good sense to stay with someone like that.

Posted by: J-Lo's Butt at January 31, 2005 03:10 PM

Ref the Reuters photo of Iraqi women filling out their ballots: I nominate it for the Pullitzer under the topic of "Best Use Ever of a Cardboard Box By Anyone, Anywhere."

Posted by: cw4billt at February 1, 2005 10:52 AM

You fool...

Those people are clearly disadvantaged.

They don't have the use of the latest voting materials, so they clearly have been disenfranchised, you-nazi-neo-con-miliataristic-goosestepping-BushHitler-clone.

Plus, their skin has a distinct brownish tone, which means they are victims of implied racism by the Reichpublicans.

You people are so stupid...

Posted by: The Marmoset Nazi at February 1, 2005 10:55 AM

Dang...

I am so hot. I even worked a mispelling in there for a touch of authenticity. That was, like, totally intentional and stuff, you know.

I so rule.

Posted by: The Marmoset Nazi at February 1, 2005 10:57 AM

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