Friday, December 23, 2005

AP reports: Dozens of Sunni Arab and secular Shiite groups threatened to boycott Iraq's new legislature Thursday if complaints about tainted voting are not reviewed by an international body. A representative for former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi described the Dec. 15 vote as "fraudulent" and the elected lawmakers "illegitimate." A joint statement issued by 35 political groups that competed in last week's elections said the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, which oversaw the ballot, should be disbanded. It also said the more than 1,250 complaints about fraud, ballot box stuffing and intimidation should be reviewed by international organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference or the Arab League. [...]

Trudy Rubin of the Miami Herald: Elections signal shift in Sunni attitude. I've always rejected comparisons between the Iraq war and World War II because they are so misleading. Yet when people ask me whether this week's Iraq elections are a turning point that may enable U.S. troops to draw down, I find myself quoting Winston Churchill. ''This is not the end,'' Churchill said, following Montgomery's victory at El Alamein in November 1942. ``It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.'' The Iraqi elections offer a hope that the conflict may begin to shift from the era of car bombs into an era where violence is undercut by politics. Previous elections didn't stem the bloodshed because they failed to address the problem that underlies the violence. The alienated Sunni minority, which ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein and produces most of the insurgents, felt it had no role in the new Iraq. Sunnis refused to take part in legislative elections in January. But this time Sunnis crammed the polls, even in violent towns like Ramadi where the insurgency is potent. Two factors led to this Sunni attitude change: [...]