Monday, January 17, 2005

Insurgents bent on sabotaging Iraq's Jan. 30 elections unleashed mortars and bombs and opened fire in several cities Monday, killing at least 22 policemen and soldiers and targeting polling stations. [...] Polling stations came under fire in two other cities. [...] A survey in the independent al-Mada newspaper found two-thirds of registered voters in Baghdad intending to cast their ballots. [...] (Reuters)

A stern-faced Saddam Hussein in a Western suit and hat was the defining image of the dictator's final years in power. Today, an old, white-bearded cleric in a black turban and robe is the face of Iraq. The phenomenal contrast of those two images speaks volumes about the transformation of this nation since Saddam's ouster 21 months ago. The brutal, secular dictator is gone. Now religion has taken center stage in Iraqi politics, and a landmark election in less than two weeks has brought the country's powerful Shiite clergy to the forefront. (AP)

Despite the continuing escalation of violence here, Iraqi officials insist the country’s first-ever general assembly elections remain on schedule, even if preparations have fallen well off track in many areas where rebels have caused grave disruptions. While most Iraqis are consumed with the ever-present tasks of keeping their families safe, finding fuel for their cars and looking for jobs, there is much talk around Baghdad of the polls set for January 30. On Election Day, among eligible Iraqis who do not cast ballots, it will be hard to differentiate between those holding off for any of various reasons. [...] But today, throughout the Baghdad area, there are plenty of Iraqis willing to express why they will or will not be voting later this month. (The NewStandard)

Financial Times editorial: Delaying Iraq poll will solve nothing.

Blog Belmont Club comments on The Battle of the Ballot Box. Two briefings provided by the Department of Defense have clearly indicated that Mosul is going to be the chief battleground between US forces and the anti-Iraqi forces attempting to prevent Iraqi lections from taking place on January 30. [...]

Iraqi blogger Omar of Iraq The Model posts a photo of Kirkuk locals at a voter registration office, and in general discusses the upcoming elections: campaign posters covering Baghdad, security plans, and more.

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