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Elections in Iraq and the Future of the War?

Voting in Iraq has wrapped up and officials are counting ballets to determine who the winners are. It is believed that the turnout was somewhere around 11 million which is an unprecedented number for a new Iraq (al-Naji, S & al-Saiedi, A, 2005). Not all has gone smoothly and Sunni’s have issued a number of complaints that range from fraud to violence.

Of the 692 complaints of violations 20 of these may be serious enough to affect the election outcomes (al-Naji, S & al-Saiedi, A, 2005). The Shia parties who have a commanding lead so far in the ballet counting are happy with the results while Sunni groups are disgruntled. Failure to adequately address Sunni concerns may lead to more insurgent attacks.

It would appear that Iraq’s middle class has been polarized into religious affiliations. The Shia death squads and Sunni insurgency campaign have forced people to pick a side in the conflict. Previous to the invasion by U.S. troops the middle class maintained solid characteristics that were stronger than their individual religious identities. All of that has changed now. With 49 of the 275 governmental seats still available the election process has a lot of energy.

Iraqi Muslims from around the world voted through absenteeism ballets over a three day period. They wanted to engage in the political process and nearly 15 countries helped them do this. In Iraq 12 of the 6,246 polling stations didn’t open on Election Day because of security concerns(Damon, A, Flower, K., Raman, A., Robertson, N., and Tawfeeq, 2005).

For the first time since the Iraqi invasion all parties attempted to voice their opinion through the democratic process. This is a positive sign for the country. However, Sunnis may have voted because they are trying to widen their influence during a somewhat successful insurgency campaign. By putting down their weapons for a few days they can engage in the voting process and try and secure their governmental influence. It is speculated that they will resume combat operations once the polling is over.

What U.S. officials have failed to understand when dealing with the insurgents is that implementing democracy means that Sunnis will lose their influence. There are more Shia citizens in the country than there are Sunni and therefore the Sunni populations will be forcibly removed from an elite position. To ask the Sunni’s to willingly give up power is not a realistic goal.

The Sunnis also have the power of a wider international Sunni network where 95% of all Muslims are “orthodox” or Sunni. This support gives them a great leverage with political influence, recruitment for insurgency and financial support. Many members of the wider Muslim world are unhappy with the U.S. and want to see the country withdraw its interest from the region. This creates a potential “peasant uprising” mentality with no official involvement by governments.

al-Naji, S & al-Saiedi, A (2005, Dec. 21). Religious Groups Take Early Lead in Iraqi Ballots. New York Times. Extracted December 21, 2005 from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/20/international/middleeast/20iraq.html

Damon, A, Flower, K., Raman, A., Robertson, N., and Tawfeeq, M. (2005, December 16th). U.N. envoy: Iraq elections a 'success'. Extracted December 21, 2005 from http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/12/16/iraq.elections/

Submitted by:

Murad Ali

Murad Ali is a two time published author on economics, international politics and business. He runs a small consulting business, is the editor of the Muslim Times and is the owner of an heirloom farm. http://www.muradenterprises.org.





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