Saturday, January 29, 2005

The BBC has an Iraq election log where they publish a range of accounts from people inside Iraq about their day-to-day lives.

Another from the BBC: In pictures: Iraq braces for poll

Iraq's borders and its main airport have been closed in a bid to halt the violence ahead of Sunday's election. (BBC News)

Pre-election attacks target Iraqi schools. (AP)

Violence update: Insurgents hit the U.S. embassy with an audacious rocket strike on Saturday that killed two Americans and wounded four, and also killed 17 Iraqis and an American soldier on the eve of Iraq's landmark election. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia democracy update: A top Saudi diplomat and member of the royal family predicted that women will be allowed to vote in future elections, giving women in the strictly segregated Islamic nation a political voice for the first time. (AP)

Nightfall approached, the military curfew drew near and Baghdad residents scurried from shop to shop on one of the city's main streets to stock up on food, water and gasoline before Sunday's national election. "I hope the coming government will be wise and will look at what people need," said Umm Ahmed, one of the shoppers who braved the city's dangerous streets. (AP)

Quick opinion round-up, first from an imam:

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi: Iraqi elections reflect updated version of Islam. (Detroit News)

Steve Hadley: A day of Iraqi hope (Washington Post)

Bakhtiar Dargali: The long road to a vote. (New York Times)

Two University of Arkansas professors are concerned that Sunday’s Iraqi election could result in civil war because of factions harboring differing opinions on when it should be held and confusion about the process. (Northwest Arkabsas News)

With only one day to go before the landmark elections, tension prevailed Saturday in Iraq's northern Salahaldin province, whose capital Tikrit is hometown to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. [includes photos] (XINHUA online) Iraq election factfile. timetable, security, voting, expatriates, candidates.

Riven by historical grievances, Iraq's majority Shi'ites see Sunday's election as their path to power in the land where Shi'ism was born 13 centuries ago. (Reuters)

With less than 24 hours to go before polling stations open elsewhere in Iraq, Mosul is still far from holding elections. There are no polling centres or electoral programmes in the city and campaign posters encouraging people to vote have been burned or torn down. (Al jazeera)

In a letter sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul has stated that efforts to make demographic changes in Kirkuk are rapidly continuing. (

Saad Jawad: The real issues in Iraq's premature elections (Financial Express)

Iraqi blogger round-up

Jeff Jarvis has a nice round-up of Iraqis blogging about the election.

Iraq's interim president has reversed earlier comments and now says that he expects two thirds of Iraqis to vote in Sunday's election. (Al jazeera)

The Shiite party expected to dominate Iraq's election will not seek to create a religious state, will ensure that Sunnis have a strong representation in any future government and will not ask U.S. forces to leave any time soon, Iraq's national security adviser assured world leaders Saturday. (AP)

Spirited expat voting in Jordan. (AP)

Procedures for voting in Iraqi elections. (AP)

Relatively few people in this former insurgent stronghold [western Anbar province] are likely to turn out for Sunday's election. Some fear the insurgents, others believe it is against Islam to vote in elections organized by "infidels." (AP via Boston Globe)

Arabic News: Extreme violence escorts the Iraqi elections.

Kurdish leaders from rival factions in northern Iraq have united in hopes of winning a large bloc of seats in Sunday's National Assembly vote and say they will insist that either the presidency or the prime minister's job goes to a Kurd. (AP)

Democrats praised Iraq's nationwide elections as "a great day for many." (CNN)

Detroit Free Press: In Iraqi elections, Bush also could win or lose. Goal of democracy in Mideast will be put to its first test.

Iraq's neighboring countries worry about the effects of a Shiite Muslim government in Iraq.

Terrorist supporters scuffle, attempt bombing at Australian Iraq polling station. Australian vote otherwise going smoothly.

Opinion: New York Times Editorial: The Long Road to a Vote

Less than 48 hours before nationwide elections here, Nasir al-Saedy, one of the city's most popular Shiite clerics, stood before a crowd of 20,000 Iraqis and uttered not a single word about the vote. Sheik Saedy spoke of faith, humility and the power of God. But about Sunday's elections, the first here in more than 30 years, nothing. For the throngs of Iraqis who had come to Al Mohsen Mosque to listen, the sheik's silence came through loud and clear. (New York Times)

U.S. nervously awaits Iraqi elections Administration works to ease fears of likely Shiite victory's impact on region. (Washington Post)

More photos of campaign posters and elections celebrating at blog Kurdo's World.

Iraqi blogger Hammorabi's excitement continues, exclaiming a new iraq on its way! He gives some history of the region, mentions "It is wrong to assume that the terrorists' attacks are resistance", and discusses other issues surrounding the election.

Editorial: Iraq: Is democracy viable? (The Jakarta Post)

Editorial: Elections in Iraq pose concerns. Just what are Iraqi citizens thinking about as Sunday's election comes closer? (The Sentinel)

Bahrain is fully behind the elections in Iraq, said Crown Prince and BDF Commander-in-Chief Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa last night. (Gulf Daily News)

Seventy-six percent of Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs plan to boycott Sunday's election, according to a new poll by Zogby International for Abu Dhabi Television released on Friday. (Reuters)

Arab media are showing a diversity of viewpoints in the run-up to the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections, with support for the elections coming from media that are also critical of the U.S. occupation. (Pacific News Service)

Just ahead of the first free balloting in Iraq in half a century, the nation battened down for the vote, imposing a 7 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew on Friday and closing Baghdad International Airport. (AP) And a similar story from, massive security as Iraq prepares for free elections.

The election key to Iraq's future. (Financial Times)

Editorial: Iraq elections will benefit Americans. (NBC2 News)

The Independent solicits opinions from Iraqis.

Editorial: High price paid for Iraq election. Our position is: Election in Iraq is crucial, but it has come at a heavy price. Blood and terror have plagued the long and dangerous march to election day in Iraq. Now, for 10 hours this weekend, millions of Iraqis will brave the threat of terrorist attack to cast ballots in the nation's first free election in 50 years. [...] (

Friday, January 28, 2005

Iraq experts on election -- and what comes next. (National Geographic)

Analysis from James Phillips: Stabilizing Iraq after the elections. (The Heritage Foundation)

Religious Shi'ite women mobilize for Iraqi elections. (Voice of America)

Anas Shallal: Iraqi Elections: Bring ‘Em On... The elections in Iraq are shaping up to be another “Bring ‘em on” moment. Iraqis are bracing themselves for more violence and the real possibility of extreme danger to those who go to the polls. Carlos Valenzuela, the chief UN elections adviser in Iraq said that “the intimidation of electoral workers by guerrillas seeking to derail this month’s balloting is high and very serious,” According to the Associated Press. [...] (Common Dreams progressive news center)

S.F. Chronicle: Elections begin yearlong political march in Iraq. To many Americans and Iraqis, Sunday's elections in Iraq are being seen as a major step in the country's march toward full-fledged democracy. President Bush called it "a grand moment in Iraqi history" Wednesday. But even if the elections succeed amid continuing violence, the nationwide vote is just the beginning of a tough, uncertain political process that will take another year and possibly much longer to complete, as Bush and other senior administration officials have acknowledged. [...]

Editorial: The brave new world of democracy Iraq-style. Tomorrow's election in Iraq will not miraculously deliver democracy to that troubled land, but perhaps it is a start. (The Age)

Skeptics question worth of elections (AP)

Bush attaches importance to Iraqi elections. (XINHUA online)

Vignettes of Iraqis casting votes abroad from AP

In terms familiar to U.S. voters, it's all about turnout in the Iraqi elections. Fourteen million Iraqis are eligible to vote, and their presence at the polls Sunday in a nation ridden by violence would be a welcome sight for a Bush administration determined to spread democracy in the Middle East and allay American fears about the war's rising toll. (AP)

Death and elections in Iraq. On the same day that Condoleezza Rice was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as Secretary of State, 37 U.S. soldiers lost their lives in the deadliest day of the war in Iraq. (El Diario)

Mixed feelings in Northern Iraq over poll. (Financial Times)

Iraq considers Shiite rule. Elections on Sunday are almost certain to bring Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority to power after decades of brutal repression. That prospect has fueled fear and uncertainty inside the country; unsettled Iraq's Sunni Muslim neighbors; and created new uncertainties about what kind of Iraq will replace Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and even about whether Iraq will remain one country or dissolve into civil war. (San Jose Mercury News)

Editorial: Freedom's Gauntlet: Iraq Elections A Challenge. The United States and its coalition partners are working with the government of Iraq to ensure that this process is a success. We also share India's conviction that democracy and democratic elections are the best avenues to ensuring peace and stability. Indians know very well that terrorists are the enemy of elections and the democratic process. [...] From start to finish, these elections are being run by Iraqis, for Iraqis, and represent a key milestone for that country. While many people are focused on the election turnout and how the voting might be impacted by insurgents, it is important that the event be judged as well in terms of what it represents to the political life of Iraq. [...] (The Times of India)

The Economist: A turning-point for Iraq, for better or worse. The ballots cast by Iraqis on Sunday may mark the start of a long and arduous journey towards stability and freedom for Iraqis. Or the beginning of a descent into anarchy, civil war and the break-up of the country. [...] IRAQIS danced in the streets outside the polling station, proudly displaying the indelible blue ink on their fingers that showed they had cast their votes—one gleefully called it the “mark of freedom”. However, this scene, on Friday January 28th, took place among the relatively small community of Iraqi exiles in Sydney, Australia. Voting in Iraq itself, to be held on Sunday, seems unlikely to produce such joyful scenes. If they turn out at all, voters are likely to be terrified of being attacked, [...]

Andrew Flood: Anarchism and the Iraq elections (Infoshop News)

blog round-up

Duraid from Canada posts info about the various candidate lists in his Iraq Election blog.

Belmont Club discusses Ted Kennedy's assertions that Iraq and the elections are mistakes, with an informative counterpoint from a bishop in Kirkuk.

Kurdo of Kurdistan posts photos and talks about celebrating the elections campaigns in the freezing cold.

Mohammed of Iraq The Model: Go Iraq, Go!. Less than 48 hours left before the people of Iraq experience free decision making for the first time in their country's modern history. It's a moment of pure freedom but still surrounded by lots of dangers just like any beautiful rose surrounded by spikes. [...]

Dahr's Iraq Dispatches (form Baghdad): High anxiety. Despite a continuing increase in the already draconian security measures imposed across Iraq, the bombs keep coming. [...]

The Adventures of Chester provides some analysis: The shadow of Karbala.

Humorist James Lileks blogs about the election and other things.

BBC News: In pictures: Iraqi election views. And a multi-page overview of life in post-Saddam Iraq.

CIA's World Factbook Iraq page.

Casting ballots for Iraq's future. With Iraqi elections planned for Sunday, German papers look at the muddle of issues facing voters from Basra to Kirkuk and offer more angst than lucidity. Will Shiite-Sunni rivalries lead to civil war? Will Turkey invade northern Iraq if the Kurds win in Kirkuk or is Ankara just rattling its sabers? (Spiegel Online)

Annan warns against voter intimidation in Iraq. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged all Iraqis on Friday to help decide their country’s future by voting and warned that intimidating voters, election workers or candidates was never justified. Sunday’s elections, the first since a March 2003 US-led invasion toppled former leader Saddam Hussein, “are the crucial first step toward a new constitution and a free and stable Iraq,” Annan said in a message to the Iraqi people. (Khaleej Times)

People in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, are stocking up on food, water and fuel in the run up to election day on Sunday amid fears of widespread violence. (Reuters)

Critics see hyprocrisy in China's support for Baghdad elections. China has contributed $1 million to help organize Sunday's election in Iraq, raising questions at home and abroad about how a country that supports balloting in another land can deny its citizens a chance to vote for their leaders. As China gains a growing role on the global political and economic stage, it increasingly faces such twists of logic. So far, Chinese officials seem undeterred by the apparent contradiction. (L.A. Times)

Omar Al-Faris of Jihad Unspun: More attacks, as legitimate elections become doubtful.

Nechirvan Barzani: Kurdistan and Iraq. (Washington Times)

Jonathan Steele: Can elections really change things? Sunday's vote won't restore Iraq's sovereignty because the key issue of how long the occupation should continue is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. (The Guardian via

Michael Rubin: A Fresh Start. Iraqis don’t want us out, but they do want some changes. (National Review Online)

Election worries neighbors across the Middle East. They fear Shiite rule, sectarian violence, instability and surge in democracy. (Detroit News)

Excited Iraqis braved freezing temperatures and tight security as they lined up Friday outside polling stations ranging from a furniture warehouse in Australia to a mosque in downtown Tehran to vote in their homeland's first independent elections in half a century. (AP)

Iraqi Turkmen head to the polls. The majority of Iraqi voters in Turkey are Turkmen expatriates wary over the future of the ethnically volatile oil-rich city of Kirkuk. (Al Jazeera)

Iraq's female candidates focus on rights (AP)

Violence update: Insurgents killed five American soldiers in separate attacks Friday in Baghdad and blasted more polling stations across the country, sending a message that if Iraqis suffer deaths and injuries on election day, "you have only yourselves to blame." (AP)

Pre-election curfews in force across Iraq. (Bob Hoffman's Political Gateway)

James J. Na: Profile of an Iraqi Politician (Real Clear Politics)

Trudy Rubin: For Iraq to succeed, it needs good winners. (Newsday)

Amir Taheri: Iraq may vote for gridlock. While some opponents of democracy in Iraq, both in Arab countries and the West, have used the specter of militant Shiism to oppose this weekend's elections, a more genuine concern is that voters may produce a hung parliament unable to produce the majorities needed to take the nation forward. (New York Post)

William Showcross: The Iraqi people will defy the Ba'athists and Islamofascists. Blair is right. Why aren't more democrats backing these elections? (The Guardian [UK])

Joyful tears and frequent applause marked the start of U.S. voting Friday in Iraq's first independent elections in more than 50 years. (Chicago Tribune)

Thousands of followers of an anti-American Iraqi Shiite cleric showed apathy two days ahead of the landmark elections after he announced to boycott the polls. While some were enthusiastic about the voting, many citizens in Sadr City in eastern suburb of Baghdad said they would not vote on Sunday since their young religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr is not among the candidates. (XINHUA online)

Backgrounder: Major political parties taking part in Iraqi elections. (XINHUA online)

Editorial: E-Day, Iraq. Turning point: the Iraqi elections (Fredericksburd Free Lance-Star)

Iraq's first electoral debate (Friends of Democracy)

Iraq clamped tough security measures across the country on Friday, sealing land borders and curbing travel to foil insurgents bent on wrecking Sunday's election. (Reuters)

The first votes in Iraq's Transitional National Assembly Elections are set to take place on Friday, but some former workers at metro Detroit's polling center have plans to disrupt the voting, according to Local 4 sources. More than 300 of the original 500 workers were fired this week from the polling center in Southgate. Sources told Local 4 there was nearly a riot when the workers were ordered out of the building. (Local 4 News, Detroit)

Before the weekend's over, nearly 26,000 Iraqis from coast to coast will have the chance to cast absentee ballots in their homeland's first free elections in more than 50 years. (AP)

Similarities seen in Iraqi, British vote. The elections were dominated by calls for a boycott, religious edicts prohibiting voting and accusations of foreign meddling, including by a dominating superpower. But this wasn't just Iraq over the last few weeks - it was Iraq from the 1920s to 1958 as well. (AP)

[an invasion of another kind -ed.] American television networks have all sent their top anchors to Iraq this week to cover Sunday's elections. (Boston Globe)

Editorial: Iraq's fateful vote. (Toronto Star)

The elections will pose a grave test for the Iraqi interim government, Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds as loyalists of the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and armed Islamic extremists have threaten to spare no effort to derail the voting, said analysts. (XINHUA online)

Stephen Schwartz: Bogus Objections to the Iraqi Elections As the days wind down to the Iraq election, scheduled for January 30, opponents of the Bush administration's project for democratization of the Islamic world, including Americans, Europeans, and Iraqis, continue to object to the timing of the vote. It has become common to hear calls for the balloting to be put off for weeks or months. [...] (Front Page Magazine)

Editorial: Iraqi elections must take place Sunday. One sign of a stable government is elections held regularly and on schedule. That's why elections in Iraq simply must be held as planned Sunday. (Daily Mining Gazette)

Fourteen years ago, Saddam Hussein created an army of weeping mothers and widows by mowing down thousands of Shi'ites suspected of taking part in a rebellion against his rule. Now, the Shi'ites stand on the brink of real political power and are deciding how to treat the Sunni Arab minority that tormented them for so long. (Washington Times)

Ehsan Ahrari: Zarqawi vs. Sistani. Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has already emerged as a major terrorist and an adversary of the United States in Iraq, especially since he formed a loose association with al-Qaeda. Now he is making a name for himself as a direct challenger to Shi'ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. [...] (Asia Times)

BBC News: Iraq's Shias: Bulwark against civil war?

Iraqi blogger Hammorabi exclaims that only 72 hours until the new Iraq.

The Friends of Democracy blog will be posting stories throughout the elections, from grassroots Iraqi correspondents in the field, in Iraq. Two recent ones: A story from the Missan province about the area being plastered with campaign posters, and discusses some of the platforms. [and on an issue this blog mentioned a week ago...] This story mentions that infrastructure concerns (water, electricity, etc.) are high on the list of campaign platforms.

AP: Timetable for Sunday's elections in Iraq.

In most elections, the big question is "Who won?" In Iraq this Sunday, the bigger question may be "Who voted?" Turnout is considered key as Iraq prepares to take a historic first step toward democratic self-rule after decades of Saddam Hussein's oppression. (AP)

With conditions far from ideal and security a major problem, Iraq's elections on Sunday should not be seen as "a be-all and end-all," but only one in a series of important staging posts "along an evolving transition" as the country emerges from an extremely traumatic chapter in its history, senior United Nations officials said today. (United Nations)

President Bush, saying he is impressed by the “incredible bravery” of the Iraqi people, urged Iraqis to vote in the January 30 national elections in defiance of the violence and threats by terrorists. (US Dept. of State)

U.S. troops packed extra uniforms and ammunition before moving out of their main base Thursday to take up positions around Baghdad, part of a massive security operation to protect voters during weekend elections that insurgents have vowed to disrupt. (AP)

What's happening today in Iraq is revolutionary in political terms, with millions of Iraqis expected to go to the polls this weekend, the commander of U.S. forces in Southwest Asia told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Jan. 26.

More howto: How Iraq's elections will work (Christian Science Monitor)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Nichervan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdish administration in Arbil, has ruled out compromise over the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, reinforcing the growing assertiveness of the Kurds in the run-up to Sunday's election. (Financial Times)

What do the Iraqi elections hold for Syria? (

This weekend’s elections in Iraq might lend some legitimacy to the new government but won’t likely end the daily violence plaguing the war-torn country, a West Virginia University political scientist says. (Newswise)

Time Magazine: The Opponents: Insurgents, Boycotters, and Skeptics. Which groups are not participating, and why not?

As the controversial Iraqi elections are only three days away, the Arab League and the European Union have warned in unison of the grave consequences of a Sunni boycott of the January 30 polls. (Turks.US)

Iraqi elections cast spotlight on large Iraqi population in Nashville. (Boston Globe)

expats begin casting ballots

Exiled Iraqi voters began casting ballots in western Sydney on Friday in their nation's historic elections — the first since former dictator Saddam Hussein's 2003 ouster. (Fox News)

Russia will not send observers to the Iraqi elections on Jan. 30, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its web-site. (Moscow News)

U.N. officials have had to discourage an “overenthusiastic” US military from helping to get out the vote in Iraq before Sunday’s election, the top U.N. electoral adviser said on Wednesday. (Khaleej Times)

Iraqis may have to wait weeks to learn the winners of this weekend's election, with guerrilla attacks and other factors expected to slow the vote tally, a foreign election adviser in Baghdad said on Thursday. (AP)

More pre-election violence. (AP)

AP has a list of key political dates for Iraq.

And The Guardian [UK] has a list (and accompanying description) of Iraqi elections: the key parties.

Opinion round-up:

Jefferson Morley: Four ways of looking at Iraq's elections. You can find a lot of information on the Internet about Iraq's elections on Sunday. You can chat with a candidate who was part of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr's armed militia. You can watch the television advertisements of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, or visit the Arabic Web site of Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani. You can check out al-Jazeera's guide to Iraqi political parties. or read the translated summaries of Iraqi political coverage in the Iraqi Press Monitor. What you will not find is a lot of optimism. (Washington Post)

Salim Lone: This election is a sham. Very early in the occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration recognized that a democratic Iraq, even a stridently anti-Saddam one, would not countenance the strategic U.S. goals the war was fought for: controlling the second-largest oil reserves in an energy-thirsty world, and establishing military bases required for undertaking the political transformation of the Middle East to serve American interests. A long-term occupation to secure these ambitious goals was no less tenable. [...] (International Herald Tribune)

The New Stateman cover story: An election riven with contradictions.

Chicago Sun-Times: Chaos or stability: Elections set stage for Iraq's future.

opinions around the world

Tony Blankley: Iraqi ballots and bombs. It's a little odd that the most vehement support for President Bush's proposition that democracy is the best cure for terrorism came from the curling lips of Mr. Abu Musab Zarqawi. [...] Of course, one election does not constitute a functioning democracy. After the best that the Iraqi people can do this Sunday, years of hard, careful work is ahead of them. (Henry Kissinger and George Shultz published a must-read article in yesterday's Washington Post that shrewdly lays out the risks and challenges that must be surmounted before a functioning, decent government can form.) (Washington Times)

Fouad Ajami: A New Iraq. Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds all have a stake in liberty. (Wall Street Journal)

Blogger Ali of Free Iraqi blog: Sistani's blessings.

Editorial: Iraq elections face many challenges; we all have a huge stake. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

Kareem Kamel: Delusions of Democracy: The Iraqi Elections (Islam Online)

Antonia Juhasz: Of oil and elections (AlterNet)

Sistani-backed candidates bid to edge Allawi out of Iraq top job. Iraq’s next prime minister will undoubtedly be a Shiite Muslim and a returned exile. But interim incumbent Iyad Allawi and the men challenging him to become the country’s first elected leader since Saddam Hussein could have radically different policies. (Khaleej Times)

Campaigning in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region is in full force with political leaders holding almost daily meetings with tribal leaders. Advertisements fill local Arab and Kurdish newspapers, while billboards show the slogans of secular and religious political parties. (AP)

As Iraqis prepare for their national elections, Arab media outlets are providing some of the most intense coverage in recent memory, particularly as many speculate what effect the vote's outcome will have throughout the volatile Middle East. (AP)

The Iraqi people want to vote in the January 30 elections and are ready and willing to take charge of building a democratic society, according to Laith Kubba, an Iraqi elections expert and the National Endowment for Democracy’s senior program officer for the Middle East and North Africa. (US Dept. of State)

Jordan's King Abdullah II, while urging citizens in neighboring Iraq to vote in this weekend's elections, said he would introduce some limited democratic reforms in his kingdom. (AP)

Iran should stay out of Iraq's elections, President Bush said Wednesday on pan-Arab television. (AP)

Election Tensions in Kirkuk Could Spread (AP)

Iraq Conditions Make for Unusual Election. (AP)

Wealthy Iraqi families flee before elections. (XINHUA online)

The United Nations' top elections official, Carina Perelli, sharply criticized U.S. military forces in Iraq Wednesday for distributing material urging Iraqis to vote in the country's elections Sunday. (Washington Post) Story continues... Secretary-General Kofi Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said on Wednesday that UN electoral division chief Carina Perelli "misspoke" when she urged US soldiers to keep their involvement in elections down to a minimum. (Al Jazeera)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Two parties linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are unlikely to be barred from this weekend's election in Iraq, an official from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which oversees Iraqi expatriate voting, said.

A suicide car bomber attacked an office of a major Kurdish party Wednesday, killing or injuring at least 20 people, an official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party said. (AP)

Election security chiefs in Iraq will set up decoy polling centres in an attempt to outwit insurgents who have vowed to target voters with suicide bombs and mortar rounds on Sunday. (

BBC: Arab pessimism over Iraqi elections

Already under heavy US pressure, the elections in Iraq pose a strategic headache for Damascus and could bolster a pro-Western enemy or decentralise a neighbour capable of destabilising Syria. (AFP)

Women gain attention in Iraqi elections (CNN)

The BBC asks six commentators what effect they thought the elections would have.

The final total of Iraqi expatriates to have registered to vote in that country's elections is 280,303 - less than a quarter of those eligible, organizers said Wednesday. (AP)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Iraq's Election Commission has begun disclosing the names of candidates running in Sunday's poll amid fears they might be targeted by Sunni insurgents. (UPI)

Time Magazine's Iraq elections FAQ.

Sunnis plan to ignore 'illegitimate' elections (Washington Times)

Iraq's mosaic of ethnic groups are lined up for Sunday's elections in which the Shiites as the majority community are expected to emerge the dominant force in the post-Saddam Hussein era. The following are short profiles of the main groups: [...] (AFP)

Iraqi voters living here and flying in from around the Middle East turned out Tuesday on the final day of registration for Iraq's historic election, speaking excitedly of freedom and an unwillingness to bend to boycott calls. But turnout remained low.

Five days ahead of Iraq's January 30 elections, here are some facts about the balloting and the process itself. (CNN)

Rep. Christopher Shays will travel to Iraq again to observe the Iraqi elections, his office announced today.

US President George W. Bush, poised to seek 80 billion dollars more for Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005, discussed Iraq's elections with Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on Tuesday, the White House said. (AFP)

Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz: Results, not timetables, matter in Iraq

Dahr Jamail: Iraq Elections Heighten Division, Fear ( Ending violence in Iraq through elections. (Men's Daily)

The Guardian [UK]: Q&A on Iraq's elections

Washington Post: More Q&A on Iraq's elections

The Independent [UK]: Allawi fights to mobilise a terrified electorate

Boston Globe: Iraq election logistics juggle politics, fear

Samuel Issacharoff, Washington Post: Democracy isn't built on one election alone

The U.S. military's most critical operation since the capture of Saddam Hussein is putting boat patrols on the Euphrates River, tanks on strategic routes and warplanes overhead in a mission tens of thousands of troops strong: ensuring a credible, Iraqi-run national election. (AP)

The European Union has joined Iraqi officials in expressing concerns about national elections slated for 30 January in Iraq. (RFE/RL)

U.S. Congress concerned over Iraq elections. (AP)

Iraqi Finance Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, a leading candidate on the front-running Shi'ite Muslim list for the January 30 elections, said yesterday he feared the milestone polls could be marred by fraud. (Gulf Daily News [Bahrain])

An Iraqi Arab party based in Kirkuk said on Monday it was boycotting Jan. 30 polls because thousands of Kurdish refugees would be allowed to vote, reigniting a row over the election in the northern city. (Reuters)

Iraqi expatriates in the Western United States have until 7 p.m. today (Tuesday) to register to vote in their country's historic elections at Irvine's former Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro, officials said Monday. (North County Times [California])

A suicide car bomber has struck near a checkpoint on a street leading to Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party office, wounding at least 10 people in the latest guerrilla attack before January 30 elections.

Human Rights Watch Q&A: Iraqi Elections: Human Rights Concerns.

US soldiers pitch in for Iraqi elections with mixed feelings. Soldiers get ready for the mission in front of their bulky combat vehicles as this northern Iraqi city, with its crumbling minarets, stretches out in the distance under brooding clouds. [...] (AFP via

US ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte said Sunday that he expects "wide participation" in the upcoming Iraqi elections but that turnout among the Sunni Muslim community should not determine the legitimacy of the January 30 vote. (AFP via

CMU professors doubtful of upcoming Iraqi elections.

The Iraqi prelate who was kidnapped last week has called for a delay in national elections scheduled for January 30.

The upcoming elections in Iraq will show that terrorism can be beaten, European Justice and Social Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini said in Rome on Monday.

The candidate list endorsed by Iraq's top Shiite cleric is likely to emerge as the dominant political group in Sunday's election. (AP)

BBC: Will Iraq elections be a success?

Lin Noueihed: Iraq elections — comedy of (t)errors!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi insisted that Iraq's looming elections would put an end to the country's bloody violence. Speaking on BBC television, Allawi added that every Iraqi should have the right to be part of his country's new political process, after Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared war on next Sunday's polls which he said were aimed at bringing the country under Shiite control. "We believe the elections themselves will help in putting an end to violence by fighting terrorists," Allawi told the BBC. (AFP via

Iraq’s most feared terror chief declared a “fierce war” on democracy in a new audio recording posted on the internet today, as insurgents attacked another polling station to be used in next weekend’s landmark elections. In the latest audio recording purportedly from the leader of Iraq’s al-Qaida affiliate, a speaker identifying himself as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi called candidates running in the elections “demi-idols” and said those who vote for them ”are infidels.” “We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology,” the speaker said. [...] (

ABC News details its planned coverage of the elections.

ABC News online: Expat Iraqis wary of elections.

Boston Globe: Iraq campaign season becomes a test of faith. As Iraq's campaign season winds into its final week, voters will have to make their choices in a fog of limited information. [...] Eternal damnation has emerged as a central campaign tactic in the run-up to the election next Sunday, with Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims hearing opposing but equally stark messages emanating from the capital's minarets: You will be damned if you vote, damned if you don't. [...] Just over half of Iraqis polled even know when election day is, according to the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit group. The same poll suggested that 46 percent of Iraqis believe that no political party represents them and that only two-thirds plan to vote. [...]

A split Iraq awaits election. Shiites, Sunnis remain divided. Hejaz Hazim, a computer engineer who could not find a job in computers and now cleans clothes, slammed his iron into a dress shirt the other day and let off a burst of steam about the coming election. "This election is bogus," Hazim said. "There is no drinking water in this city. There is no security. Why should I vote?" Across town in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, a grocer called Abu Allah stood behind his pyramids of fruit and said that no matter what, he was going to the polls. [...] (New York Times via The Arizona Republic)

Iraq's election security challenge. Iraq's election planners have been forced to second guess the militants they fear are planning bloody attacks during the country's impending vote. They insist the poll will go ahead throughout Iraq, as planned, on 30 January - albeit amid extreme security measures. (BBC News)

Paul McGeough: Storm clouds gather for Iraq's ill-omened election. The celebration of Eid al-Adha sparks a palpable excitement in the Arab world, but at the weekend all the joy and celebration came to a jarring halt at the borders of benighted Iraq. [...]

Iraq poll tension builds. Tension, as much as anticipation, marks the run-up to Iraq's first democratic elections on Sunday, with political contenders making their last-minute pitches and insurgents pressing their violent campaign of intimidation. Iraq's interim Government announced further tough restrictions on all movement during the poll weekend, shutting Baghdad international airport to all traffic and imposing a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew across the country for the election period. But their efforts to ensure tight security on voting day were mocked by the explosion of a roadside bomb yesterday on Baghdad's key airport highway, the most dangerous stretch of road in the country, within sight of the highly fortified governmental Green Zone. The explosion killed one Iraqi and wounded another two, official sources said. Meanwhile, conflicting reports suggested that master-terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had either been apprehended by US and Iraqi forces or had been outside the country for several months, directing the insurgency from afar. (The Australian via

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed delivers anecdotes about a group of Iraqi female politicians getting advice from US politicians.

Iraqi who snared Saddam registers for elections. The Iraqi translator who identified Saddam Hussein when the dictator was captured has registered to vote in the Jan. 30 Iraq election. (AP)

Editorial: Elections must go on in Iraq. One sign of a stable government is elections held regularly and on schedule. That's why elections in Iraq should be held as planned on Jan. 30. There have been calls during the past few weeks for the elections to be postponed. No one seems willing to admit that terrorist attacks on government officials and election workers are behind such calls. Instead, the pretext is that postponing elections would ensure a higher turnout of Sunni Muslim voters. Some Sunni leaders have called for their followers to boycott the elections. Sunnis are outnumbered about two-to-one by Shiite Muslims. [...] (The Advertiser-Tribune [OH])

Chris Deerin: Amid Iraq's horror, hope springs eternal. When the foot of a British soldier flies towards the head of an Iraqi who is lying on the ground, trussed in a net, it’s hard to think of freedom. First a foot; then a blurred fist. Another man hangs like a prawn from the tines of a forklift truck; a Union Jack flutters behind him in the breeze. Two male prisoners are stripped and positioned as if having sex; they are then made to give the thumbs-up. (Scotland on Sunday)

The Iraqi government pledged Saturday it would do everything in its power to protect voters from insurgent attacks during next week's national elections, as militants announced they'd killed 15 captive Iraqi national guardsmen for cooperating with the Americans. Eight other Iraqi guardsmen and an Iraqi civilian were injured Saturday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt near the gate of a military camp near Hillah, 60 miles south of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said. (AP)

An unprecedented series of security measures will be in force in Iraq during next Sunday's election, it was announced by Baghdad authorities yesterday. There will be an 8pm-6am curfew in many parts of the country, a three-day holiday, no travel between provinces and a ban on the use of most cars. Baghdad international airport will be closed for two days, and civilians will be forbidden from carrying weapons. Anyone caught breaking the rules will be detained, a statement said. Even the locations of many polling stations are being kept secret until the last minute, to make it harder for bombers to plan their attacks. (The Independent [UK])

End of Iraq's nightmare ... or the start. Violence threatens to plunge the country into civil war as the beleaguered Sunni minority prepares to boycott this month's polls. (The Observer / Guardian [UK])

Robert Fisk: Not even Saddam could achieve the divisions this election will bring. Sunday 30 January will be the day when myth and reality come together with - I fear - an all too literal bang. The magic date upon which Iraq is supposed to transform itself into a democracy will no doubt be greeted as another milestone in America's adventure and, I suspect, another "great day for Iraq" by Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara. He, of course, doesn't have to be blown up in the polling stations or torn to pieces by suicide bombers on the way home. The "martyrs of democracy", as I am sure the dead will be feted, will be those Iraqis who have decided to go along with an election so physically dangerous that the international observers will be "observing" the poll from Amman. (ZNET)