Saturday, January 08, 2005

In its struggle to transfer sovereignty back to Iraq last spring, the Bush administration made some tough decisions about the makeup of the political system and how Iraqi elections could occur quickly and fairly. But now a little-noticed decision on election procedures has come back to haunt administration officials, just weeks before the vote is to take place, administration and United Nations officials say. (New York Times)

The Pentagon has ordered a review of its strategy in Iraq, as Shiite leaders say they are open to guaranteeing a presence for Sunnis in the next government even if most of them boycott elections. (

Opinion: Turkey's Contribution to Stability in Iraq. The kind of Iraq we are going to face in the end is uncertain. The process of handing over of sovereignty to the Iraqis by the invasion forces has started with some symbolic steps, like the first troops of the new Iraqi army completing their military training. (Sahin Alpay via Zaman Online)

Jan 8 Opinion round-up

The elections in occupied Iraq, scheduled to take place on January 30, are looming as a political debacle for the Bush administration. The US objectives are being thwarted by the mass opposition to the American presence in the country and the entrenched insurgency against the occupation. [...] Washington's ambition is to produce a puppet government with enough domestic and international legitimacy to be able to sign off on the real aims of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. These include the establishment of long-term military bases in the Iraq, from which the US can exert strategic hegemony over the Middle East, and the sale to American corporate interests of Iraq's state-owned oil industry—which controls the world's second-largest oil reserves. (James Cogan, via World Socialist Web Site)

Asking someone whether he or she is Shiite, Sunni or Kurd was once taboo in Iraq. Iraq was one country, bound through wars and dictatorship, not a nation of divided sects or ethnic groups, came the standard answer. But that national identity has been breaking down in the parliamentary election campaign. In the absence of political ideologies or competing policy agendas, the nation's newly formed political parties are increasingly depending on religious and ethnic labels to help voters distinguish among them. (Nancy Youssef, via Knight-Ridder newspapers, via Kansas City Star)

Will elections make a differ ence in Iraq? Iraq has become not only a battleground between democracy and terror, but also empire says Mark LeVine. (Middle East Online)

Iraq's elections must be put on hold, a key figure in the country said today. The interim authority along with the US-led coalition has insisted the elections must go ahead as planned on January 30. But former foreign minister Adnan Pachachi said the poll would be seen as illegitimate because large sections of the population would not take part. (

The preliminary findings of a new internal US State Department poll on Iraq obtained by AFP Thursday shows only 32 percent of Sunni Muslims are "very likely" to vote in landmark national elections this month and only 12 percent consider the event legitimate. (

Two of its most prominent members were gunned down recently, but that didn't stop the Iraq's Communist Party from holding a campaign rally in downtown Baghdad, with supporters waving red flags and shouting leftist slogans. Few other parties have dared to do the same, but then Iraq's Communists are a stubborn bunch. And although they are not expected to win many seats in the country's Jan. 30 elections, their insistence on a strong voice in Iraqi politics could still pay off. (AP)


Rather than use an auto-posting script that relies on Blogger's continually flaky mail2blog feature, I'm going to start combining links into longer posts (conpendia, or a round-up).

Gunmen have killed a senior member of Iraq's main Sunni Muslim party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, which last month withdrew from the election on January 30. Omar Mahmoud Abdallah, a cleric who has written a number of books on Islam, was snatched from his pharmacy in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday and later found shot in the head. The Iraqi Islamic Party pulled out of the election fearing persistent bloodshed would deter Iraqis in the Sunni north and west from casting their ballots, skewing the outcome and undermining its credibility. (

Militants abducted three senior Iraqi officials as they traveled to meet with Sistani to discuss the national elections. Article also includes misc. minor election-related news items. (AP)

Opinion: Iraq's vital vote. Ready or not, Iraqis will be holding elections on Jan. 30 for a national assembly to select a new government and draft a constitution. Unfortunately, Iraqis are not ready to go to the polls. Not only is a lack of basic security sure to reduce turnout in certain areas; the fear induced by the attacks of militants and criminal gangs has made it impossible to hold the mass rallies and public speeches that are indispensable to electoral campaigning. (Boston Globe)

Sunni Arabs fear that Shi'ites would dominate Iraq after Jan. 30 elections are unfounded because the ballot will be a first step on the road to democracy, Iraq's foreign minister said on Friday. (Daily Times [Pakistan])

Blog Iraq the Model has two posts about the elections: a translated poll about the elections and discusses the campaigning going on around Iraq.

Opinion: Vote now or later? Rumors are beginning to circulate in Baghdad and around the Washington Beltway that Iraq's much-anticipated Jan. 30 elections may be postponed. For the moment these are merely rumors. Rumors? Or are they rather "feelers" being put out to gauge the public's reaction? Despite strong insistence from the Bush administration — particularly the president — that the elections must proceed regardless of impediments to comprehensive balloting, reality may force a different course. (Washington Times)

The Iraqi elections scheduled for January 30 could be postponed for a few weeks to ensure they are held in a more secure environment, it was revealed last night. Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is reportedly conducting secret talks with the US administration in a bid to agree a joint decision, Iraqi politicians close to Mr Allawi revealed to Akhbar Al Khaleej correspondent in Baghdad Dr Hameed Abdulla. (Gulf Daily News)

Opinion: Early elections vital for Iraqis. The picture from Iraq continues to be a mixture of progress and serious setbacks. There is progress in many areas, where stability is the rule and Iraqi government functions effectively, but contrast this advancement with serious setbacks as suicide bombers and hit squads strike at Iraqi officials and coalition troops. (The Advocate)

Iraq should still hold general elections as planned at the end of this month despite protests, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said on Friday. Speaking to French LCI television, Barnier said the vote "must take place" as it is important to the country's political reconstruction. Fears have been raised that the poll may be postponed due to security concerns. But the US-backed Iraqi interim government said it will stick to the 30 January timetable. (Iraq Procurement)

Opinion: The Vote Must Go On. Delaying tactics in Iraq. (James S. Robbins via National Review Online)

Opinion: Window of opportunity in Iraq. As the Bush administration often says, "failure is not an option" in Iraq. It is an accomplished fact. The initial U.S. goals in invading the country are now completely unattainable, and the remaining uncertainties are mostly to do with the timing of the American pull-out and the extent of U.S. humiliation. But is it possible that the Bush administration has understood this, and is planning to declare a victory and leave within the next six months? (Gwynne Dyer via

Opinion: How to save Iraq's Jan. 30 election. As insurgent attacks mount in frequency and ferocity in the run-up to the Jan. 30 national election in Iraq, the question of Sunni participation at the polls gains greater urgency. If the Sunnis don't vote, then what? (Newsday)

Friday, January 07, 2005

Opinion: Insurgents and elections in Iraq. As expected, Iraq's Sunni-dominated insurgents have unleashed a barrage of attacks in the weeks ahead of parliamentary elections set for Jan. 30. The attackers, who hope to disrupt the polls that will determine the make-up of a new government and the process of creating a permanent constitution for the nation, have to a large degree been effective. Their recent campaign of murder and intimidation has killed 90 Iraqis this week alone. Along with a growing number of Iraq's Sunni Muslims promising to boycott the polls, the legitimacy of January elections has been thrown into doubt. While those monitoring the run up to the elections have earmarked various degrees of Iraqi participation and American involvement for the polls to be considered a success, most agree on one issue: the process must be viewed as legitimate by Iraqis or the nation is likely to dissolve into full-fledged civil war. [long analysis follows...] (Robert Nolan via Foreign Policy Assocation)

Opinion: The Moment of Truth in Iraq. It is now crystal clear that the proposed political process in Iraq is fatally flawed. If a way is to be found out of the present blood-stained impasse, a fresh start on a new basis is essential. The moment of truth in Iraq is fast approaching. (Patrick Seale via Dar Al-Hayat [Saudi Arabia])

Initial results of an opinion poll in southern Iraq suggest that Iyad Allawi, the secular-leaning interim prime minister, could prove an unexpected rival to an Islamist-backed list for the votes of the country's Shia majority.

According to Saadoun al-Dulaimi, a political researcher, the first round of a survey by his Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies showed that Mr Allawi's "Iraqi List" was supported by 22 per cent of the 1,500 respondents in the predominantly Shia south and in Baghdad. (Financial Times)

Related link: Guide to Iraq's main political groupings (Financial Times)

Rumor control: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Thursday denied reports that Egypt had persuaded Iraqi Sunnis into participating in the upcoming elections, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported. Abul Gheit also denied reports that Egypt would send observers to Iraq to monitor the elections scheduled for Jan. 30, saying Egypt has no intentions to do so and Iraq has not made such a request, said the report. (XINHUA online)

Opinion: Meanwhile, Back in Iraq... While the world's attention has been focused for the past 10 days on the catastrophic tsunamis in South Asia and the subsequent relief efforts, the situation for the United States and its dwindling number of allies in Iraq appears to have worsened. The administration of President George W. Bush and its supporters continue to insist that elections to a constitutional assembly scheduled for Jan. 31 will turn the tide against the insurgency, even as key figures in Baghdad's interim government, as well as outside analysts, are expressing growing doubts about whether the poll should even go ahead, given the deteriorating security situation. (Jim Lobe via Inter Press Service News Agency)

After the deadliest attack on American forces since a suicide strike in Mosul 2 1/2 weeks ago, Iraq's prime minister warned that insurgent violence would only increase as the country's election draws near. (Las Vegas Sun)

Iraq's Sunni Muslims will hold seats in the next government, irrespective of how their parties fare in the polls, a Shia political leader has said. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of a Shia-led coalition widely tipped to win the vote, said the "participation of all" is essential for the new government. (BBC News)

President Bush rejected any suggestion today that the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq would do more harm than good. He declared that they would constitute a landmark, not only in American policy toward Iraq but in that country's road to democracy. "Democracy is hard," Mr. Bush said in a brief question-and-answer session in the White House. "Our own country's had a history of kind of a bumpy road toward democracy." [...] (New York Times)

Opinion: The right to rule ourselves, by Azzam Tamimi. For nearly a century, democracy has been denied to the Arabs by the west. There is little sign of that changing. (The Guardian)

Iraq`s neighbours on Thursday called for a massive turnout in the country's landmark elections and pledged not to interfere in Iraq's internal affairs, as they concluded a four-hour meeting in Jordan. In a show of unity underscoring the urgency of the situation, the foreign ministers of Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey and a senior Iranian official said Iraqis must freely decide their future at the polls. (

Allawi to lock down Iraq on election day. [...] Unprecedented security controls will be imposed for the vote on January 30, including drastic travel restrictions and night-time curfews, in an effort to tackle a growing insurgent campaign of violence. [...] (Mail & Guardian)

Opinion: Bridge to Iraq's future. Iraq's upcoming elections will be an event with real potential to turn the tide both in Iraq and in the war on terrorism. As Afghanistan demonstrates, credible elections -- elections that are perceived as free and fair -- can sap the influence of violent extremists whose only claim to power is brute force and intimidation. (Washington Post)

Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser for President George H.W. Bush and a leading figure in the U.S. foreign policy establishment, said yesterday that he has grown pessimistic about prospects for stability and democracy in Iraq, a view increasingly expressed by other foreign policy figures in both parties. (Washington Post)

With three weeks to go before nationwide elections, significant areas of 4 of Iraq's 18 provinces are still not secure enough for citizens to vote, the commander of American ground forces here said Thursday. (New York Times)

Opinion: Iraq Elections No Silver Bullet. The Bush administration has hyped the Iraqi elections scheduled for late January 2005 as a turning point in the struggle to win the war it launched nearly two years ago. True, any government that emerges from a reasonably fair election must enjoy more legitimacy than the narrowly based group of occupation supporters to whom Washington turned over the trappings of sovereignty on June 28. But the election will almost certainly not secure a pro-American government in Baghdad. (Jeffrey Laurenti, a Century Foundation scholar on the United Nations, via US Newswire)

The top UN envoy to Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, repeated on Thursday his call to all parties in Iraq to participate in their country's upcoming elections. (XINHUA online)

[refresh of earlier story] Iraq's U.S.-backed government said on Thursday it was extending emergency powers equivalent to martial law for a further 30 days to try to safeguard Jan. 30 elections under threat from deadly attacks by insurgents. (CHINA daily)

Opinion (Thomas Friedman): Each day we get closer to the Iraqi elections, more voices are suggesting that they be postponed. This is a tough call, but I hope the elections go ahead as scheduled on Jan. 30. We have to have a proper election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war there.

Let me explain: None of these Arab countries - Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia - are based on voluntary social contracts between the citizens inside their borders. They are all what others have called "tribes with flags" - not real countries in the Western sense. They are all civil wars either waiting to happen or being restrained from happening by the iron fist of one tribe over the others or, in the case of Syria in Lebanon, by one country over another. [...] (New York Times)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulqi called here Thursday for a leading UN role in facilitating the Iraqi elections to be held on Jan. 30. He said at a session of Iraqi neighboring countries' conference that the interim Iraqi government should hold elections on time with participation of all Iraqis in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1546. (XINHUA online)

Opinion: Election crucial for Iraqi peace. Whatever the rights or the wrongs of the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, two months short of two years later the war is hardly over and the cost in human life is rising on a daily basis.

Not only was United States President George Bush wrong about the Saddam Hussein regime having "weapons of mass destruction"-on which basis the invasion was launched-he was also clearly wrong when he predicted that the Iraqi people would have greeted the American soldiers like conquering heroes. [...] (Trinidad and Tobago Express)

Time Magazine: Iraq's Bloody Election Season.

While calls mount among Sunnis to postpone this month's Iraqi election, the reclusive Shi'ite leader Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani is mobilizing thousands of clerics to get out the vote. The move, designed to ensure election dominance of a Shi'ite list heavily influenced by Sistani, shows his influence in Iraqi politics despite his support for separation of religious and political authority. (Reuters)

The U.S. military announced Wednesday that more than 35,000 American troops will be deployed on the streets of Baghdad on January 30, the date of Iraq's first democratic elections. (CNN)

Info: Guide to Iraq's main political groupings. (Financial Times)

Opinion: Delaying Iraq poll is a bad idea. The seemingly unstoppable insurgency in Iraq was always going to step up attacks on the interim government, nascent Iraqi security forces, poll organisers and the US occupation itself as the January 30 election got closer. Nobody should be surprised about that. Nor should anybody opt to postpone these elections as a consequence. (Financial Times)

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Thursday he had extended for 30 days emergency laws that give his government special powers to crack down on insurgents trying to derail Jan. 30 elections. (Reuters)

Opinion: The Iran factor in Iraq's vote. A lot could go wrong with Iraq's elections on Jan. 30. But one fear that seems misplaced is that the two main Iraqi Shiite parties, which are likely to be the biggest winners, would take orders from Iran's radical Shiite ayatollahs, imposing pro-Iranian policies on Baghdad or establishing an Iraqi Shiite theocracy. (New York Times, via International Herald Tribune)

[update of earlier story] Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbours are to urge Sunnis to vote in upcoming Iraqi elections to ensure the minority plays a role in Iraq and curb Shi'ite Iran's rising influence in the country, diplomats say. They said a conference of Sunni-dominated Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on Thursday would stress Iraq's Arab nature and warn against outside efforts to influence the vote in a communique already agreed by their foreign ministers. [...] In an interview published on Thursday, Jordan's King Abdullah warned Iraq's unity was at stake. (Reuters)

Turkish, U.S. and Iraqi officials will hold a meeting on security issues in Ankara next week. Sources said on Tuesday that the date of the tripartite meeting is not clear, adding that officials will discuss elimination of PKK/Kongra-Gel terrorist organization from the north of Iraq during the meeting. Sources noted that the meeting can be held between January 11th and 14th. (

And an earlier article from The Washington Times (Jan 4): U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage and Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Monday reviewed touchy regional issues that have led to coolness between their countries, but Mr. Gul said ties between the two NATO allies, described by both parties as a "strategic partnership," will remain intact. One of the reasons for the chill in bilateral ties is the presence in northern Iraq of an estimated 5,000 militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that Turkey holds responsible for a civil conflict that claimed about 37,000 lives in the country's southeast from 1984 to 1999.

Expatriate Iraqi voting round-up.

Iraqi citizens in Turkey can vote for the elections in Iraq which is planned to be held on January 30th, 2005. (

One million Iraqis living outside the country may be eligible to vote in the forthcoming election for the transitional national assembly, according to the International Organisation for Migration, the intergov-ernmental body organising the "out-of-country" poll. (Financial Times)

And a Reuters version of the same story.

Opinion: Ballots and blood. The next fortnight may decide the fate of the Iraqi elections. (The Times [UK])

Opinion: More clouds over Iraq elections. (The Daily Times [Pakistan])

Iraqi Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib mentions the elections to the press after the close of an Arab League meeting. (AP, via Jerusalem Post)

A delay in holding elections in Iraq would lead to a bloodbath, Iraq's former national security adviser Muwafaq al-Roubaie said on Tuesday. "If we delay it for a week or so, the country will go into bloodbath," he told BBC radio. "This will definitely trigger a huge civil war. The best insurance policy to protect this country from civil war is to have the election on January 30," he said. (AFP, via Tehran Times)

American General: Insurgents Will Not Stop Iraqi Elections. Multinational forces are getting better at finding and foiling bomb attacks in the Baghdad, Iraq, area, the U.S. general responsible for that area said today. (US DoD)

And the transcript of a special Defense Department briefing on security operations in Baghdad

Opinion: Hope for Iraqi elections. Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life. (Christian Science Monitor)

Iraq: special report on elections. If anybody is to make a success of Iraq's upcoming elections, set to take place on 30 January, it should be the Kurds, local officials say. (IRIN)

And, an open letter from the Kurdistan National Congress (KNC): "Kurds are for an independent Kurdish state". (Kurdish Media)

Iraqi Kurds will take part in the Kirkuk provincial elections, a senior Kurdish politician said on Tuesday, defusing a political crisis that had threatened to undermine polls in the strategic oil city. (Reuters, via Kurdish Media)

Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani Wednesday cast doubt on the feasibility of holding elections in Iraq under prevailing insecurity and mounting violence. Barzani who heads the Kurdistan Democratic Party was quoted by the party's daily, al-Taakhi, as saying "carrying out the poll under the existing unstable security situation is not feasible and is fruitless." (UPI, via The Washington Times)

Opinion: Iraq elections: A choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. (The Daily Star)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Christopher Allbritton of Back to Iraq 3.0 blogs about passing the [electoral] buck, and wonders aloud if Mosul will be the next site of a pre-election offensive.

Despite continued violence in the country, Tony Blair has reiterated his commitment to the January 30 date for Iraqi elections. (

Opinion: Assessing Palestinian, Iraqi elections. (Fort Wayne News-Sentinel)

Neighbor meet roundup:

Iraq's neighboring countries will meet in Amman on Thursday to discuss the pre-election situation in the war-torn country, Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Rajab Suqeiri said Monday. Iraq's six neighboring countries, namely, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria, as well as representatives of Egypt, Bahrain and the United Nations will take part in the one-day meeting, he told reporters. (XINHUA online)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulki said Wednesday a conference in Amman of Iraq's six neighbours will aim to back "appropriate and transparent" elections in Iraq later this month. (Khaleej Times)

A clash between Iran and Jordan over the future of Iraq threatens to undermine Thursday's meeting of Iraq's neighbours in Amman. Mohammad Irani, Tehran's ambassador to Amman, said recent claims from Jordan's King Abdullah of Iranian "interference" in Iraq "had not created the proper atmosphere for Iran's participation". (Financial Times)

There is no reason for Iraq's neighbors to meet in Amman later this week, Iran's ambassador to Jordan said Monday, underscoring the strain in relations after Jordan's King Abdullah II accused Tehran of seeking to influence the upcoming Iraqi elections. (The Boston Globe)

A senior official of Iraq's main Sunni Muslim party, which last month withdrew from the 30 January election it wants postponed, has been abducted and killed. (al Jazeera)

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Wednesday that the country's elections would be held as scheduled on Jan. 30. (XINHUA online)

Opinion: Iraq, Iran, and democracy: The Struggle for the Middle East. (Weekly Standard)

Notes and comments on the elections in Iraq. (The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies)

Opinion: On the Forthcoming Election in Iraq. The fact of the matter is that democracy has never been more than a subsidiary pretext for the Bush administration in its drive to seize control of the crucially strategic area stretching from the Arab-Persian Gulf to Central Asia, a pretext ranking after others such as Al-Qaida or the WMD. Most of the vectors of US influence in this area are despotic regimes, from the oldest ally of Washington and most antidemocratic of all states, the Saudi Kingdom, to the newest allies, the police states of such post-Soviet Mafia-like republics as Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan, operating through such great champions of democracy as generals Mubarak of Egypt and Musharraf of Pakistan. [...] (Znet)

Kurdistan blogger of Kurdo's World asks if the upcoming elections are Iraqi or American elections? He points out some of the negative side effects of the candidate lists not being published due to security concerns.

At least one cel phone network provider, IraQna, has reportedly announced that communications will be shut down during election time.

Iraqis Take Charge of Democratic Electoral Process. The preparations for the January 30 Iraqi legislative elections differ from early democratic experiences in other transitional countries in that the process in Iraq is entirely managed and controlled by Iraqi officials, according to National Democratic Institute (NDI) President Kenneth Wollack. (US State Dept.)

Iraq's president urged the United Nations Tuesday to look into whether the country should go ahead with its scheduled Jan. 30 election despite violence threatening to scare voters away from the polls. Yawar said the polls would fail if a raging insurgency kept a significant number of Sunnis away from voting stations. (Reuters, via ABC News)

Fayrouz from Live From Dallas blog discusses Iraqi voter registration and Election Radio, which promises to bring election information to many Iraqis without television.

Summary of current situation, and recent events to date:
Iraq Elections Still on Despite Increasing Violence. (

Tens of thousands of Iraqi immigrants across the United States who may be entitled to vote in their homeland's elections this month are finding that confusion is the front-runner. (AP, via Yahoo! News)

Opinion: How Iraq War Went Wrong. A long article about the Iraq war in general. Points out that the Jan. 30 elections will be a day just like any other day for many Iraqis: terrorists bombings, insecurity, etc. (Arab News)

Iraqi blogger at Democracy in Iraq comments on the "Return of Uncle Usama" and his attempt to influence the Iraqi elections. Dated Dec 28.

U.S. Defense Department background briefing on the upcoming elections in Iraq. (US DoD)

Analysis: Iraqis go wobbly about elections. With 26 days to go before the Iraqi elections, and violence escalating, calls for a postponement are increasing, but the Bush administration remains determined to stick to the scheduled date. [...] (UPI, via The Washington Times)

The United States denied on Tuesday President George W. Bush and Iraqi's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi discussed a possible delay of Iraq's coming elections and insisted that the elections will be held as scheduled. (XINHUA online) Further, there is no question that elections will be held in Iraq on Jan. 30, a senior State Department official said from Baghdad today. (US DoD) Colin Powell expresses sorrow over the governor's assassination.

If Sunnis won't vote, then what? In the Sunni Arab communities of Iraq there seem to be as many reasons - fear, anger, confusion - to plan to stay away from the polls as there are people. The message is clear. While many Sunnis say they'd like to vote in the election scheduled for Jan. 30, most say they probably won't. [...] (Christian Science Monitor)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Iraqi blog election round-up. neurotic iraqi wife, Riverbend, and Khaleed Jarrar consider the upcoming Iraqi elections.

The blog Iraq Blog Count has also collected a election blog posts from Iraqis.

Opinion: Only four weeks before crucial elections, sectarian divisions threaten to worsen Iraq's unrest, with majority Shi'ite Muslims poised for political dominance and many Sunni Arabs boycotting the polls or too afraid to vote. Engaging the minority Sunnis, who have dominated Iraqi politics for eight decades but now fear a Shi'ite clerical resurgence, is vital for future national stability. (Reuters, via Wired News)

More Iraqi interim government officials are calling for the postponement of Jan. 30 elections to ensure a higher Sunni voter turnout, a sign that a campaign of violence might be taking its toll on Iraqi resolve. The country's electoral commission, however, insists that voting take place as scheduled. Meantime, Iraq's interim president urged the United Nations to look into whether the country should go ahead with the elections. (MSNBC)

A delay in holding elections in Iraq would lead to a bloodbath, Iraq's former national security adviser Muwafaq al-Rabbi said today. (Herald Sun [AU])

Ansar al-Sunnah terrorist organization linked to al-Qaeda threatens to conduct a series of terrorist acts at polling stations during the elections in Iraq scheduled for January 30. "The targets of forthcoming retaliation acts will be Iraqi citizens who, despite warnings, will participate in voting," says the statement of the terrorist organization posted on the Internet on Tuesday. (Russian News and Information Agency)

Any delay in Iraq’s January 30 elections would lead to civil war and a “bloodbath” in the country, the interim government’s National Security Adviser warned today. Muwafaq al-Rubaie was speaking after the assassination this morning of the governor of Baghdad province Ali al-Haidari, the most senior member of the Iraqi authorities to be killed by insurgents since last May. (

Gul Warns US about Kerkuk and Iraqi Elections: Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul reiterated his concerns about the developments in Kerkuk's (Kirkuk) demographic structure to the US. (Zaman Online)

[summary of recent violence and attacks on election workers/structure] Continuing a bloody campaign to disrupt Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary election, insurgents have assassinated the governor of Baghdad. The withdrawal of the largest Sunni Muslim party from the election on security grounds has led to more calls for its postponement—but so far it looks like being held as planned on January 30th. (The Economist)

An Iraqi blogger at Democracy in Iraq comments on a potentially interesting about-face: Sunni groups are now encouraging Sunnis to get involved with the elections in Iraq.

Hours after a wave of bombing attacks that left at least 20 people dead on Monday, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi telephoned President Bush and discussed the many impediments still facing the country as it heads toward elections in 27 days, according to senior American officials familiar with the contents of the call. (New York Times)

The potential costs of getting Iraq's first democratic election wrong are not worth rushing the process, says an Illinois Wesleyan political scientist with experience as an election monitor for The Carter Center. Dated Sept. 28. (

American hopes of easing tensions between different Muslim groups in Iraq have suffered a setback with the rejection of a US-backed initiative which was intended to ensure that the Sunni minority would be properly represented in a new 275-member national assembly. (The Times [UK])

More on Sunni participation in the election: Defiant Sunni Arabs refuse to join Iraq's poll campaign. (Financial Times)

Just months ago, Fattahlah Ghazi al-Esmaili was penning articles in support of Iraq's Shi'ite uprising as editor for Ishriqat, a newspaper for rebel cleric Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi's Army militia. Now the 38-year-old has abandoned his Arab head scarf for a neat beige suit and is out pumping the flesh in his run for parliament at the head of a 180-candidate list representing the impoverished Shi'ites of Sadr City. (The Washington Times)

Opinion: Iraqi blog Iraq The Model, describing the increased interest in the election, as Jan 30 approaches, answers questions and debunks media myths. Dated Dec 25.

Nashville and four other U.S. cities will hold elections to allow expatriate Iraqis to vote in their country's elections on Jan. 30. (WKRN)

Worldwide, 14 countries will allow expatriate Iraqis to vote. The 14 countries are Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Jordan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. (

Opinion: 2005 Elections in Iraq and Beyond. A new year may find President Bush caught between Iraq and a hard place. The President’s dilemma is highlighted in a recent article by Thomas E. Ricks in the Washington Post. Ricks quotes retired Marine Lt. Col. Jay Stout who is no longer confident about what the U. S. strategy in Iraq should be. Stout says, “We have few choices: We can maintain the status quo while trying to build an Iraqi government that will survive, we can get the hell out now and leave them to kill themselves, or we can adopt a more brutal and repressive stance.” [...] (ChronWatch)

Opinion: United Nations and Iraq, from the U.S. government. On January 30th, Iraqis will vote for two-hundred-seventy-five members of a national assembly that will chose a new government and draft a constitution. The stakes are high. White House spokesman Scott McClellan says, "The elections coming up in January are a step toward a democratic and peaceful Iraq" [...] "The international community has been helping in different ways, as well. [...] The Iraqi people want freedom. They want to choose their own leaders. They want to vote. And they will do so on January 30th. (via VOAnews)

Monday, January 03, 2005

In key cities, no Sunnis have registered to vote. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

Iraq's main Sunni Muslim party, which has already announced a boycott of the January 30 landmark elections, on Sunday said it could also reject the new constitution that is scheduled to be drawn up after the vote. (

The number of Iraqis making sure they are properly registered to vote has surged dramatically, officials said Saturday, calling the rise evidence of enthusiasm for the Jan. 30 elections despite continuing security concerns that have blocked the process in two provinces. (LA Times, via The Union Leader) Contradicting this, AP writer Rawya Rageh feels that luring Iraqi voters to the polls will be uneasy task

[overview and summary of recent news] One month from today, the Iraqi people will go to the polls in their country's first open, direct, multiparty legislative elections in more than 50 years. An estimated 13.9 million Iraqis are eligible to cast ballots, and U.S., coalition and Iraqi officials are committed to ensuring that the election process remains on track. (TruthNews, American Forces Press Service)

Tehran: The upcoming Iraqi elections will be held in six Iranian provinces on January 28-30, it was announced here on Monday. (Payvand Iran News) Update: Syria will also offer polling sites to Iraqi expatriots. (AP)

Iraq is seeking Egypt's help to convince Arab Sunni groups to take part in the elections for selecting a legislative council slated for January 30. (UPI, via The Washington Times)

Special report on Iraq's elections, from Integrated Regional Information Networks. (IRIN)

Opinion: Uncivil elections. Like a powerful ship plowing through heavy waves, the Bush Administration is trying to stay the course in Iraq, despite the buffeting it is taking on the way to the much-heralded January election. But it is already clear that election is no safe harbor, just another waypoint on a perilous journey whose dangers are constantly changing, and perhaps growing. In fact the vote may itself be explosive, with concerns growing that civil war may be spawned by the election. (Barre Times / Montpelier Argus)

Iraq had a rare moment out of the world spotlight in the past week, eclipsed by the tsunami devastation in Southeast Asia. But the country saw a host of critically important political developments and deadly attacks that could cripple elections set for Jan. 30, and that suggest the insurgents are refining their strategy to wreck the vote.(AP, via The Boston Globe)

The story of several of Iraq's election officials resigning, fearing reprisals. (The Sunday Times [UK])

Opinion: Are the elections in Iraq spurring events in Egypt? (The Belgravia Dispatch)

Opinion: Elections in the line of fire. Beyond the destruction insurgent attacks will no doubt sporadically inflict on some Iraqis in Baghdad and elsewhere, what else can al Qaeda terrorists hope to accomplish between now and the Jan. 30 elections? The emerging answer appears to be: not much. [...] (The Washington Times)

Nearly three-quarters of Iraqis say they "strongly intend" to vote in next month's pivotal elections, and a small majority believe the country is headed in the right direction, according to a major new poll of Iraqi attitudes. (Real Cities)

The likely prospect of a Shiite victory in this month's landmark Iraqi elections is making the oil-rich Gulf monarchies apprehensive, fearing Tehran's growing influence in the region. (Middle East Online)

Opinion: Put Bush on Iraq ballot in upcoming elections. (

The incredible amount of detail, secrey, and danger that go into the planning and execution of the upcoming election in Iraq. (LA Times)

Top US envoy in Turkey for talks on elections in Iraq. (The Journal of Turkish Weekly)

Iraqi Defense Minister hints at election delay. Hazem Shaalan said in Cairo that he had asked Egypt to try to persuade Sunni Muslims to participate in the January 30 vote, which was expected to usher Iraq’s long-suppressed Shiite Muslim majority into power. “We could postpone the date to let all Iraqis go to the polls in one day” if that would accommodate Sunnis, Shaalan said. (

Opinion: Osama bin Laden, the man who since 9/11 brought fear into the hearts of millions, is now running scared. What frightens bin Laden today is the ballot box. (World Peace Herald)

The head of the UN body overseeing Iraq's elections at the end of the month revealed plans yesterday to bring the increasingly disenfranchised Sunni minority to the polls: the population of Anbar province, the western desert region better known as the Sunni Triangle, would be allowed to register and vote on polling day, even though the rest of the country finished registering its voters weeks ago. (The Times [UK])

US Senator Lieberman encouraged about the prospects of a successful election [in Iraq]. (VOA News)

Not directly related to elections in Iraq, but newsworthy nonetheless: Iranian Presidential Election Set for June. (AP)

A new contingent of US troops arrived in Mosul on Friday to help boost security in the restive northern Iraqi city ahead of nationwide elections, said a US military statement early Sunday. (AFP, via Bob Hoffman's Political Gateway)

A suicide bomb, carried in a vehicle, exploded at an Iraqi police checkpoint near where Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's political party is headquartered, but no one inside the building was hurt, officials said. (CNN)

US Secretary of State Colin Powell predicted a Shiite victory in upcoming Iraqi elections, but moved to assuage concerns it could bolster Iranian influence inside the country. (The Sierra Times)

[ADMIN] Back from weekend vacation, and I see several items in the queue. These should be fully flushed out to the blog in 24 hours.

Opinion: Iraqi election is Osama's nightmare. Osama bin Laden told us what he fears: a vote. Condemning any Iraqi who goes to the polls as an infidel, the terror master hopes to derail the elections. He knows that every ballot cast is a defeat. Anyone who dismisses the importance of the upcoming Iraqi elections need only listen to Monsieur bin Laden's urgent plea for a boycott. [...] (NY Post)

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Rumors about a cut in communication around election time are rumbling about in Iraqi blogs.

Blogging from Kurdistan, an Iraqi Kurd describes why he will not vote in the upcoming Iraqi elections.