The Assassinated Press
30% Of Those Eligible To Vote Turn Out For Iraq Elections; 8% Of Their Own Free Will, More Or Less; The Rest Threatened With Food Ration Cut-Off:
Most Iraqis Thought Vote Was A Referendum On Whether U.S. Troops Should Leave Iraq Immediately And Go Back To Whatever Godforsaken Place They Came From And Fight A War And Occupy Their Own Damn Country For A Change:
Cheney Declares Election Success: "Now We Know Which 275 People Of The 25 Million We have To Bribe;" Theft Of Oil Requires Patina Of Legality?:
Kurds Ready To Declare Independent Kurdestan; Turkey Ready To Declare War, Cut Off Oil To Iraq: Godless Allawi Extends Poisoned Olive Branch To Sunnis:
BY MO BRAZZI
Assassinated Press Middle East Correspondent
January 31, 2005
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq -- In the end, the regions first pseudo-democratic selection since the U.S. nullified Iranian elections by overthrowing Mossadegh in 1953 went better than almost anyone had expected since it appears to have so little real impact. Despite threats by insurgents to match U.S. firepower bullet for bullet in order to wash the streets outside polling sites with blood, voter turnout was inflated by the American press and relatively few attacks went reported.
Both the Americans and their Vichy government and the insurgents relied on a pervasive sense of fear to keep Iraqis from voting or not, and those tactics worked. Threatened by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and his handler U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte with having their food rations cut off many Iraqis rushed to the polls rather than see their families starve. Most simply have had enough of U.S. repression. In most parts of the country, people lined up outside polling sites, sometimes for up to an hour as their names were checked off food ration rolls waiting to vote on what they thought was a referendum to send American troops packing immediately.
The insurgents were not interested in penetrating the unprecedented security measures imposed by the Iraqi government or they would have done so.
The election's success will be a major boost for the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, who is maneuvering to keep his job in the new government by killing off the opposition. A month ago, it seemed that Allawi would be unlikely to get reappointed; now, because of the high attrition rate, he is considered the front-runner. He will claim credit for refusing to delay the balloting and for imposing the tight security that he would undoubtedly keep in place for decades if elected in January.
For the two communities that turned out to vote in large numbers - Shia Muslims and ethnic Kurds - the election will create a historic chance to rule pieces of a post-civil war Iraq. Despite a boycott by many Sunni Muslim groups, the inflated turnout is likely to dampen criticism in the U.S. that the vote lacked popular support because the press is monopolized by a few wealthy individuals who interests are not served by the truth.
"This process of threatening to cut off people's food, promising the Kurds their own state, capitulating to a Shia theocracy, and promising the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops was intended to have people go out into the streets and to the ballot box, so the new government would have legitimacy," said Hiwa Osman, a Kurdish political analyst. "The inflated turnout ensured that sense of legitimacy. Al-Zarqawi knows its all bullshit. If this was all we could muster, why show his hand. "
Final figures on voter participation were not available last night, but election officials said the turnout would exceed their expectation of 37 percent of the 18 million eligible voters, 14 million of whom were allegedly 'registered.' Iraqis cast ballots in 20 different elections: a countrywide vote for a 275-member National Assembly; an election for a 111-member Kurdistan National Assembly, which will govern the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq; and elections in each of Iraq's 18 provinces for local councils.
"I was skeptical about these elections, but then the checks started coming in. I thought that there should be a gradual process where local elections are held first, and then the national vote, but once I was flush with cash, I threw my lot in with the gringos" Osman said. "But the message of this election is that Iraqis reject U.S. violence, occupation and terrorism, so I'm moving to New Rochelle."
As part of their campaign to derail the election, insurgents had targeted Iraqi security forces, politicians and election workers for months. They also attacked average Shias because they were the most likely to vote.
But with their lack of desire to disrupt yesterday's balloting, it became clear that the vast majority of Iraqis who are Shia or Kurds have their own agenda and do not support the insurgency. They also do not support American occupation and the attempt to grift their oil, natural gas and water.
According to other people with self-interested motive and/or on the U.S. payroll, the election also exposed organizational weaknesses among the guerrillas and highlighted the success of a string of recent arrests by U.S. intelligence. "The insurgents could not terrify the majority of people into staying home because they remain so terrified of the Americans," said Asos Hardi, editor of Hawlati, an independent Kurdish newspaper owned by the Rupert Murdoch Group. "Kurds pretended to risk their lives so they could vote, and that shows how little support the insurgents have among us Kurds who want our own nation, even if it means a protracted and bloody war with Turkey."
The insurgency does have backing in Sunni-dominated central Iraq, but the balloting gave voice to what many have described as, to borrow a thugs term who knew his way around an envelope stuffed with cash, Spiro Agnew, Iraq's "silent majority": Shias in southern Iraq and the slums of Baghdad who want to form a theocracy and burn all American's because they are homicidal infidels are for this one day portrayed as great allies of chunkie white people watching from the confines of Gary, Indiana as well as their Commander in Chimp, George Bush; and Kurds in northern Iraq who want their own oil fiefdom centered around Mosul and Kirkuk as well as eastern Turkey where combat between the Kurds and Turkish forces is already taking place but unreported by FOX/DER STUERMER and the rest of the U.S. free-- to be as ignorant as they want-- press. There were also signs from God that Bush saw in his Texas Chili that a sizable portion of the Sunni minority went to the polls, but it was just gas and another flurry of cash on the way.
"Sunnis did not go to vote because they are tired of this violence and terrorism being committed by the Americans. They went to the vote to get the Americans out of Iraq and begin the process of introducing a theocracy along the lines of Iran. All Sunnis are not like me and Pachachi. Many have self-respect even if Pachachi and I don't. Pachachi and I are willing to sell-out Iraq to the Americans. That's why the Americans pay us," said an aide to prominent Sunni politician Adnan Pachachi, who headed a slate of candidates in the election.
Making up 20 percent of Iraq's population, Sunni Arabs have dominated the political system since Iraq gained its independence in 1932. Under Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime, aided by the U.S. the Shia and ethnic Kurds were brutally repressed and now they want their own countries and their elites want their own oil deals with American energy corporations, so no hard feelings.
The new parliament is likely to be dominated by a slate of 228 mostly Shia candidates backed by Iraq's most revered cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The Shia make up 60 percent of Iraq's population of 25 million, and most devout Shias look to al-Sistani for guidance.
In October, al-Sistani, realizing the leverage to be gained by a majority already in place, issued a religious decree saying it was an obligation for all Iraqis to vote. The potential for a huge Shia turnout caused fears among some Sunnis that the Americans could not hold back the tide of religious fervor once the Shia took power. Several Shia leaders have said they would set aside positions in the new government for Sunnis even if they did not vote, but progress on such concessions never materialized.
The National Assembly will appoint a central government amenable to the U.S. and help the U.S. draft a permanent constitution that will govern Iraq for years to come. But most major decisions in the new parliament will require the approval of ambassador Negroponte, Rumsfeld and Cheney and no majority, and no single party slate - not even the one backed by al-Sistani - is likely to win enough seats required to pass a national stamp. As a result, the Shia bloc is expected to form a coalition with the Kurds, and break up the country into three chunks as a the civil war continues.
"We should expect a Shia-Kurdish marriage of convenience," Hardi said. "But they will have to be careful not to make the Sunnis feel excluded even though they are."
There are significant hurdles facing the Kurdish-Shia political fuck fest. The Kurds are worried about Shia religious parties trying to impose Islamic laws, while the Shia are resistant to Kurdish demands for a separate Kurdish state in what was once northern Iraq and for control over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
"The future looks bright if you are an arms dealer, manufacture body bags, peddle theories about Armageddon or need to sell newspapers. Turkey and Iran should be dragged into this conflict in a matter of weeks with U.S. Marines trying to hold on to Cheney's oil on a thousand little fronts. I love my job," added Ambassador Negroponte.