Friday, February 04, 2005

Partial results released on Thursday by the Iraqi electoral commission consistently placed the Shia Islamist-led United Iraqi Alliance first, with more than two thirds of the 1.6m votes so far counted and confirmed from the Baghdad and five southern majority-Shia provinces. The Iraqi List of interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, meanwhile, came second across the board, but nowhere except in Baghdad province did the prime minister's list gain more than one third of the number of votes that went to the Alliance. (Financial Times)

Following the low turnout of Sunni Arab voters in Iraq's national elections Sunday, former Iraqi Governing Council member, Adnan Pachachi, says he has initiated conciliatory talks with Sunni Arab groups that did not take part in the balloting. The secular Sunni Arab elder statesman worries that the credibility of the elected national assembly and the constitution it drafts may be greatly diminished without Sunni-Arab participation. Adnan Pachachi, who was only one of a handful of Sunni-Arab candidates in Sunday's race, has spent the past several days reaching out to leaders of Sunni-led opposition groups, who boycotted national elections. (Voice of America)

US officials praised the election turnout in Iraq's restive third city of Mosul, but political parties in its ethnically-divided province protested about the lack of polling centres and ballot papers. (AFP)

Electoral officials in the southern city of Karbala have discovered a case of election fraud in which voter education materials were tampered with to add a plug for the major Shia-led coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting)

Boston Globe: For Shi'ite Najaf, a new direction.

The United States "will resolutely stand beside" the Iraqi people in their struggle to achieve democracy, stability and prosperity following the January 30 elections, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and Iraq Coordinator Ronald Schlicher says. "As we enter this post-election period, our reconstruction efforts will be focused on assisting the Iraqi Transitional Government to improve security, create jobs, develop economic policy and regulatory frameworks, and expand private enterprise," Schlicher said in a prepared statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee February 3. (US Dept. of State)

AP: Partial Results of Iraqi Election.

Kurdish self-rule is inevitable if not imminent, according to Kurdistan Democratic Party chief Masud Barzani. (Al Jazeera) Also, from Three tiresome elections and a referendum.

Polls big blow to rebels - Iraqi PM (Cape Argus)

Shiites, Kurds acquire power.The groups' strong election results aid their bid to select a new prime minister. (Newsday via Detroit News)

Purple marks support for Iraqi elections (AP via Houston Chronicle)

Sunni dilemma over dealings with new government. After uneven turnouts around the country in Sunday's elections, representatives of Iraq's Sunni Arab minority are divided as to how they will deal with the resulting government, in which their community looks likely to be substantially under-represented. (Financial Times)

Editorial: Find inspiration in Iraqi election. The ballots are still being counted in Baghdad, and officials say it still could be another week before the results of Sunday's elections in Iraq are known. One thing is clear, however: the vote appears to have been a major success. (The Daily News [Jacksonville, NC, USA])

Michel Chossudovsky: Iraqi Elections: Media Disinformation on Voter Turnout? (Global Research via Scoop [NZ])

Arthur Chrenkoff's blog: The new meme hits the Iraq debate

Blog "I Should Have Stayed Home" reprints two anti-election flyers. (found via Chester)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Economist: Can the voters build on success? In four articles on Iraq's elections, we analyse the elections' achievement—and see why a new government will still struggle to impose itself, at home and abroad.

Censoring the Coverage of the Iraqi Elections: "Limited to Filming at Only Five Polling Stations" (

Ivan Eland: After U.S. and Ukraine, Fake Elections Come to Iraq. Are Iraqi Elections a Panacea? (The Progress Report)

Morocco Times: Iraqi elections and the new challenges ahead

Muslim Scholars Commission question legitimacy of Iraqi elections. (Arabic News)

Despite being proclaimed a great success, Iraq’s landmark elections on Sunday have sparked significant complaints from the Christian communities both in Iraq and in the United States. (The Christian Post)

The head of the world's largest organization of Islamic countries says Sunday's election in Iraq was "not complete," because it did not fully involve that nation's Sunni-Muslim minority. But he had positive words for the election in general. (Voice of America)

Dr. Minhaj Qidwai: Iraq Elections: Democracy or hypocrisy. "The Iraqis will realize later the game plan behind these elections. Who are these elections really for? The Iraqi people or Bush's PR machine?.." (The Palestine Chronicle)

Robert Robb: Bush partly vindicated by Iraq vote. (Arizona Republic)

Iraqi officials Thursday released the first partial returns from national elections, showing a commanding lead by candidates backed by the Shiite Muslim clergy. (AP)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Christopher Allbritton of blog Back to Iraq 3.0: End of the beginning.

Iraq's interim president said Tuesday that tens of thousands of people may have been unable to vote in the country's historic weekend election because some polling places - including those in Sunni Arab areas - ran out of ballots. (AP)

‘The Cities Were Not Bathed in Blood’ It was hardly a perfect election. But against all odds, Election Day brought unexpected hope and gaiety to the streets of Baghdad. (Newsweek)

Thomas Sowell: The defeatists have been defeated. Remember all the political outcries that the Iraqi elections should be postponed because it would be impossible to hold elections with terrorism rampant throughout the country? (

James Carroll: A train wreck of an election. (Boston Globe via International Herald Tribune)

Middle Eastern governments say they hope to establish good relations with whatever leadership emerges from Iraq's landmark election but expressed concern over the low Sunni Muslim turnout and the rise in Shiite Muslim influence. (AP via Boston Herald)

Sen. Hillary Clinton praises Iraq elections. (Newsmax)

George Will: Democracy in Iraq such a nice idea. (Times Union)

Wall Street Journal: The New Iraq. So much for the argument that Arabs don't want democracy.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Editorial | Iraq's huge step forward.

Howard Kurtz: Iraq's moment of truth. (Washington Post)

Ralph Kinney Bennett: Why 'Bloody Sunday' Didn't Happen. As the day of the historic Iraqi elections came to a close the incapability of the vitiated Baathist/Islamofascist forces to carry out their bloody, histrionic threats became apparent. They were not able to exact casualties above the normal accident rate in a country of 27 million people. [...] (Tech Central Station)

Denver Post: Iraqi elections give a breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Preliminary results of Iraqi elections to be released the coming hours (Al Jazeera) Also here is an AP version of the story.

Turns out, hope won Iraq elections. (The Times of India)

Iraq's election was a step in the right direction for peace and stability in the Middle East but it was only a first step, the head of the Arab League said Monday. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Chirac: Iraqi elections "important stage" in political reconstruction. (XINHUA online)

UN Security Council hails Iraqi elections. (XINHUA online)

Europe praises Iraqi elections. Even opponents of U.S.-led war find good things to say about balloting. (Indianapolis Star)

Afghanistan welcomes Iraqi elections. (XINHUA online)

Kerim Balci: Iraqi Elections and Islam (Zaman Daily Newspaper)

Rashed Rahman: VIEW: Elections under occupation. (Daily Times [Pakistan])

Editorial: 'In a war zone, they chose to vote'. The unexpectedly high turnout is welcomed, but concerns for the future remain. (Gulf News via The Guardian[UK])

Monday, January 31, 2005

After historic Iraq vote, Saudis try own elections. (

Even European critics of Iraq war praise Iraqis and Bush for election. (AP via Boston Globe)

Arab Reaction to Iraqi Elections Mixed. (Washington Post) And from the Daily Star in Lebanon: Iraqi elections spark Arab soul-searching.

Upbeat about election, Iran hopes Iraq occupation ends soon. (Tehran Times)

Jordan's king optimistic after Iraq election. Abdullah calls for Sunni community to be included in the political process. (The Daily Star [Lebanon])

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday welcomed Sunday's elections in Iraq and vowed continued Japanese support for Iraqis' nation building. (Japan Today)

Leading clerics here in the holiest city of Shiite Islam [Najaf] today expressed strong approval of the conduct of the country's first multiparty elections in decades, despite the fact that Iraqi electoral officials have yet to announce the results. (New York Times)

Iraqi TV offers nonstop coverage of elections. (Washington Times)

Time Magazine: Making sense of Iraq's vote.

Christian Science Monitor: How election reverberates beyond Iraq. Both Iraqi unity and global engagement may get a boost.

Eric Margolis: Iraq's predetermined elections. There was nothing at all surprising about yesterday’s election in Iraq. The vote, designed to justify the US-British invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation, had entirely predictable results. (

Washington Post: Q&A: What's next for Iraq's Democracy?

Aaron Goldstein: The Swing Vote In Iraq. (American Daily)

Profound implications of Iraq elections for Middle East. (New Kerala [India])

Iraq's first multi-party elections for over 50 years dominate Monday's papers. (BBC)

Voters victorious in Iraq's elections. (San Jose Mercury News)

Iraq elections: Purple fingers in Sadr City. (International Herald Tribune)

The leader of a team of international election experts watching the Iraqi poll said the elections generally met international norms, but some unspecified legal areas need improvement. (AP via Boston Globe)

Russia expressed its respect for the results of Iraq’s election in a statement made by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday. However, the statement said that it was important for the Iraqi people to acknowledge and accept the poll’s results. ( [Russia]) However, Gorbachev Calls Iraqi Elections “Fake”. ( [Russia])

French FM describes Iraqi elections as "first important step". (XINHUA online [China])

Iraqi parties declare elections great success. (Financial Times)

The terrorists disagree: Al-Zarqawi's group slams Iraqi elections. (Kansas City Star)

Latest from AP:

Interim Prime Minister Allawi calls for a national dialogue "to ensure all Iraqis have a voice in the new government."


The real battle for Iraq comes next: drafting a permanent constitution. (Financial Times)

STEVEN R. WEISMAN: The Great Middle East Shake-Up (New York Times)

[on the Kurds] 'I remember how we fought hard for many years for this'. (Financial Times) And similar from The Washington Post.

Monitors, exiles watch Iraq vote at a distance. (CTV [Canada])

Iraq Elections: A Mixed Story. I'm just appalled by the cheerleading tone of US news coverage of the so-called elections in Iraq on Sunday. I said on television last week that this event is a "political earthquake" and "a historical first step" for Iraq. [...] (Infoshop News)

China's state press pessimistic on Iraqi elections. (Channel NewsAsia)

[Bahrain] cabinet hails historic elections. (Gulf Daily News)

Michael Ignatieff: Iraqis fight a lonely battle for democracy. Whatever your view of the war, you should embrace today's election. (The Observer [UK])

Samuel Issacharoff: For Iraqis, a historic day (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Paul Richter: Outlook Brightens in Iraq, but There's No Quick Fix. (L.A. Times)

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has appealed to all Iraqis for reconciliation "on all sides" after the country's national elections. (The Australian)

France: Iraqi elections success of int'l community. (XINHUA online [China])

Mubarak congratulates Iraqi elections. (XINHUA online [China])

DeLay: Democracy Takes Root in Iraq; Iraqi Elections Show Success in War on Terror

The International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE) has published its first preliminary assessments of the Iraqi elections. The assessments were transmitted to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) and posted in Arabic and English at following the close of polls in Iraq today.

Iraq election: What happens after the ballots are counted? (The Independent [UK])

Allawi: Iraq now on way to recovery. Iraq's interim prime minister hails historic day. (MSNBC)

Iraq's crunch election has been marred by irregularities and low turnout in Mosul, despite insistence from the US military that voting in the restive northern capital passed off smoothly. Kurdish and Christian politicians charged that thousands were unable to vote in Nineveh province because of a lack of ballot papers, sparking riots in one town north of Mosul. (ABC News online)

Suicide bombers fail to stop voters (Fairfax Digital) and Iraqi elections wrap up with high turnout (XINHUA online [China])

Arabs Watch, Are Wary Of Iraq Elections. (Free Internet Press)

Kurds Hopeful of Strong Representation in Iraq Assembly. (Voice of America)

J. D. Mullane: Carnage is not the only story from Iraq. (

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Middle Eastern countries concerned with effects of Iraq election. New York Times via The Telegraph - Calcutta.

AP: Across Iraq, snapshots of historic vote: Short reports from Baghdad, Mosul, Najaf, Tikrit, Askan.

Region-by-region review of Iraq's landmark vote. (AFP via

Confusion surrounds Iraq poll turnout (Al Jazeera)

Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has congratulated Iraqis on turning out to vote and expressed regret he had been unable to take part himself because of his Iranian nationality. (ABC News online)

AP update:

Vote Showcases Iraqis' Courage, Fatalism
Iraqis Say Final Results Could Take Awhile
Iraqi Christian Voters Hope for Security

Reuters via Yemen Times: Historic elections apparently successful.

Bloggers share the view from election day in Iraq. (Wall Street Journal)

Mohammed and Omar from blog Iraq The Model: The people have won.

Allies claim their Iraq strategy is vindicated. (Financial Times)

William Pfaff: The only option for Iraq. (International Herald Tribune)

And keeping watching the Friends of Democracy reports as they roll in.

C-SPAN Friends of Democracy broadcast: Both Hitchens and the other guest (sorry, I missed his name) were asked about "the Sunni issue", and both guests responded with similar answers: Sunnis do not think of themselves on such simple and polarized terms as the media portrays, and are certainly not unanimous in their support or opposition of any issue. Just like the rest of the world, national politics depends largely on each individual, local area, your family background and history, the treatment of you and your family under the Saddam regime, etc.

Thus, blanket assumptions that presume all Sunnis oppose democracy in Iraq, or support the terrorists, are false. Iraqis are individuals, just like everyone else.

Chuckle: Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings (Scrappleface)

Iraqi elections to smooth passage for Bush demands. It's no secret that the Iraqi elections are being keenly followed by the residents of the White House as the outcome can seriously affect U.S. military action in the country and weaken President Bush's political strength domestically and internationally if the results don't lead to stability. (Al Jazeera) [I note with amusement that the story's URL includes the phrase "conspiracy_theory" -ed.]

World leaders hail Iraq vote as key to restoring sovereignty. Messages of support poured in from around the world as Iraqis voted in a landmark election hailed by both supporters and opponents of the US-led war as a key step towards restoring Iraqi sovereignty. [...] (AFP via

World reaction to the Iraq elections. There was cautious optimism across America and the Middle East as the polls closed today in Iraq's first multi-party elections in 50 years. (The Times [UK])

Alissa J. Rubin: Elections no guarantee of a free Iraq. Democracy might take back seat to security. [...] (L.A. Times)

YÜKSEL SÖYLEMEZ: Mock elections in a make-believe Iraq. (Turkish Daily News)

[Italian prime minister] Berlusconi hails Iraqi elections. (AP via Jerusalem Post)

Buried deep in an AP story headlined "Bush Declares Iraq Election a Success",

In a statement Sunday, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), said Bush "must look beyond the election." "The best way to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that we have no long-term designs on their country is for the administration to withdraw some troops now" and negotiate further withdrawals, Kennedy added.

"It is hard to say that something is legitimate when whole portions of the country can't vote and doesn't vote," Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), said on NBC's "Meet The Press."

And finally, the current Iraqi election thread on Daily Kos.

Vote-counting has begun by candlelight amid power cuts in Iraq's Shi'ite shrine city Najaf after the faithful had packed the polls in response to an edict from their spiritual leader. (Reuters)

As many as 8 million Iraqis voted today for a National Assembly in defiance of deadly attacks and threats of violence by insurgents, and carried out Iraq's first democratic election since 1953. (Bloomberg)

Troops hold their breath as Iraqis vote. (AP)

Saddam's absence on ballot thrills Iraqis. (AP)

Al Qaeda's group in Iraq said 13 of its suicide bombers were involved in a string of attacks against election centers in Iraq Sunday, according to an Internet statement. (Reuters)

The Australian notes Foreign bombers behind Baghdad blasts.

Bush praises Iraq elections, warns of work ahead. (


Photos from BBC, New York Times, Pentagon, powerlineblog.


Readers: send photo links to

If you missed the Friends of Democracy election coverage show on CSPAN, they will be re-running the show beginning now. The show includes interviews with callers from Iraq, coverage of Iraqi election blogs, and discussion of media coverage by Christopher Hitchens and Iraqi commentators.

Chronology of Iraq elections, political changes from 1920 to present. (Reuters via Houston Chronicle)

Prime Minister Tony Blair today hailed the Iraqi elections as “a blow right to the heart of global terrorism”. (

Roundup: Iraqi elections wrap up with high turnout, unabated violence (XINHUA online [China])

Robert J. Caldwell: Bush's not-so-impossible dream (

Fareed Zakaria: Elections Are Not Democracy. The United States has essentially stopped trying to build a democratic order in Iraq, and is simply trying to gain stability and legitimacy. (Newsweek)

Andrew Sullivan: Whatever the result, this is a triumphant election (The Times [UK])

Mark Steyn: Iraq is going to be just fine. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Walter Russell Mead: Each vote strikes at terror (L.A. Times)

Iraq's influential Association of Muslim Scholars has told Aljazeera that the low turnout by Sunni Arabs in elections was due to a lack of real choice and military occupation. (Al Jazeera)

As the world watched Iraq's historic elections Sunday, Arab media weighed in with a mix of hope, concern, and skepticism. The following is a selection of quotes from Arabic newspapers as well as TV networks: [...] (CNN)

AP round-up:

For Widowed Kurds, Voting Means Revenge
Iraqis Brave Attacks; Voter Turnout High
Quotes about the Iraqi elections from Iraqi and world leaders, observers and voters:
Iran Expects Benefits From Iraq Election
Key Steps in Iraq's Political Process

Women and voting:

James Glanz: The great unknown in Iraq is what women will do when they step behind the cardboard voting booths in a rare moment away from the immediate influence of husbands, sheiks and other clerics. (New York Times)

Houzan Mahmoud: Iraqi women find election a cruel joke (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Doubt over power of elected women (AFP via The Australian)

AP reports: Arabs mesmerized by Iraqi elections

Editor's note: This was originally incorrectly attributed to Reuters. Our apologies for the mistake.

Tune in to C-SPAN right now (2:40pm EST) through 4pm EST to catch Friends of Democracy broadcast. Right now, Christopher Hitchens and the directory of the Iraqi Memory Foundation are being interviewed. Hitchens made the point that this election disproves the Western theory that Zarqawi represented the "Arab street". Up1: Michael Totten and a Princeton university student are in the studio, reporting on blogger reaction. Totten just quoted from Hammorabi's blog.

Iraqi Electoral Commission says 72 percent turnout was a 'guess'. (Reuters)

CNN has a page about Arab media's coverage of the Iraq elections.

The Times Online reports on the Middle East's reaction to the elections.

The New York Times reports hope, enthusiasm, 'party atmosphere' in Baghdad. NYT also reports that though turnout was very low in some areas such as Ramadi, but overall the turnout appears to have been good.

Early reports say voting turnout was very good despite some violence.

Iraq Electoral Commission's early analysis indicates a turnout of over 70 percent of registered voters.

Turning in for the night. So far, it looks like almost one suicide bomber per hour in Baghdad, though the low death toll seems to imply that the bombers are not completely penetrating security. Voter turnout is heavy in the Kurdish north and Shia south, and in sections of Baghdad. Turnout "extraordinary" in Basra. Turnout is light in Sunni areas. The violence is surprisingly light, hopefully the rest of the day will go as well.

Other links to watch, several of whom are liveblogging or providing regular updates:

Blue finger

When a citizen votes in the election, their finger is stained with indelible blue ink to prevent voting more than once.

A commentator on MSNBC echoed a point I had been thinking about since last week: in Sunni areas, having a blue finger is a clear sign you voted in the election, potentially making you a target.

Latest AP update: 17 killed -- but note AP's numbers include the three confirmed suicide bombers themselves, as well.

MSNBC is reporting on the blogger reaction, focusing primarily on Iraqi blogs. They mentioned Friends of Democracy, Iraq Blog Count, and others (still listening). I'm impressed that a media network is giving this much attention to bloggers.

From Fox News ticker: Iraqi authorities say Dept. General for Ministry of Electricty is in critical condition after being ambushed and shot repeatedly in his car today in Baghdad. Electricity is one of the issues at the forefront of the election.

CNN: unconfirmed reports of a fourth suicide bomber in Baghdad.

As Chester notes in his 2:00am blog update, hundreds of suicide bombers had been predicted.

AP update: current story on the Iraq elections, noting in particular

turnout was brisk in some Shiite Muslim and mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhoods. Even in the small town of Askan in the so-called "triangle of death" south of Baghdad - a mixed Sunni-Shiite area - 20 people waited in line at each of several polling centers. More walked toward the polls.

[...] the polls were deserted in heavily Sunni cities like Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra west and north of Baghdad. [...] The governor of the mostly Sunni province of Salaheddin, Hamad Hmoud Shagti, urged voters over the radio: "This is a chance for you as Iraqis to assure your and your children's future." [... updates on mortar attacks...] Final results will not be known for seven to 10 days, but a preliminary tally could come as early as late Sunday.

Dr. Sabah Kadhim, Senior Advisor, Ministry of the Interior puts today's violence in context during an interview on CNN:

"So, if you like, it's not just on election day, the difference is we have terrorism today, we have them yesterday, we will have them tomorrow. The difference will be that the Iraqi people have elected a government that is legitimate, that will be much stronger in dealing with them. That's one, and the other one, the fact that there is far more mutual confidence between the multi-national forces and the Iraqi forces will help to terminate the terrorists."

Clues to interpreting election results in Iraq. Because there will be no exit polls nor complete election results released Sunday night, it could be difficult to assess and understand the results of Iraq's historic elections. [...] (Springfield News-Leader)

Khaleej Times: Historic election no quick fix for Iraq’s problems.

Mail & Guardian: Destiny for the taking as Iraq braves bombs. After the threats and the promises; after the bombs, assassinations and security clampdown; after the Sunni boycott and the Shi'ite religious call to vote, the day of Iraq's first free elections in half a century dawned today over a country divided between fear and cautious optimism. [...]

Another blast in Sadr city.

Mosul: a slow start, then a 'steady trickle' and now flow appears to be increasing, as reported by Fox News from one polling center in the north of the city. Despite some mortar attacks in Mosul, a Lieutenant Colonel reports that he is very optimistic.

Up1: CNN reports there is 'quite a steady stream' in Kurdish areas of Mosul, but less so in non-Kurd areas of the city, and reports very few voters in Tikrit, Saddam's home town.

Al-Bawaba gives an early summary of the day's voting, mentioning a spokesman for Iraq's elections commission said all the about 5,200 polling stations nationwide were opening on schedule. [honestly, I am a bit surprised to hear the word all -ed.]

CNN is carrying a press conference by Iraq Elections Commission officials. They are reassuring voters and stating that voting is going smoothly in most places, which acknowledging the few incidents of violence that have occurred. Nothing surprising. The officials did mention that there were long queues (lines) of people in Mosul, waiting to vote.

Up1: One of the officials answering questions is Dr. Fareed Ayar, Electoral Commission Spokesman.

On Fox News, newsweek correspondent reports Najaf is calm and voting is occuring, though mood is 'subdued'. People are 'excited' and 'happy' to be voting.

According to powerlineblog, MSNBC reports that hardly anyone is voting in Ramadi which, it says, is essentially an active war zone (there was a fire fight yesterday near a polling station) and ground zero of the insurrection right now.

Mortar rounds are apparently falling with regularity in Baghdad (and nowhere else, unless I've missed a bit of news). A few deaths and injuries related to that.

Watching live shots of polling centers getting ever more crowded, it is definitely apparent that Iraqis are turning out to vote. However, I am also quite afraid of the terrorist mindset: Terrorists are watching the same satellite feeds, and are aware that death on live TV is quite mediagenic. I only hope that the media acts in a responsible manner, and realizes that these Iraqis are risking their lives for democracy.

Allawi votes.

BBC reporters' log. Updated in the past 30 minutes as of this writing.

more opinion:

E. J. Montini: Forty-five reasons to care about the elections in Iraq. (Arizona Republic)

Salah Nasrawi in Amman, Jordan: The exhilaration of democracy after years of exile (Scotland on Sunday)

And liveblogging, powerlineblog notes CNN's reporting.

Fox News Ticker: "Senior US intel officials say: First 2 hours of voting in Iraq is critical to success because early morning attacks at and around polling stations will get wide play on Arab media, which could cause many potential voters to stay home."

Fox News has video clips of Iraqis grinning from ear to ear at being able to vote.

The CNN ticker noted "women outnumbered men at the polls 2-1". No source or additional info given.

More details from Reuters on the blasts. Other voting seems to be proceeding just fine, without violence. Up1: Police report the mortar attack did not hit the western Baghdad polling station, but instead a house behind the station. There were casualties. Source: Christian Amanpour @ CNN

Iraq's first multiparty polls in half a century have begun at dawn, elections intended to unite the country but which could instead foment sectarian strife and which insurgents have vowed to turn into a bloodbath. A suicide car bomber attacked an Iraqi security checkpoint protecting a polling station in west Baghdad shortly after voting began, killing a policeman, police sources said on Sunday. They said two Iraqi soldiers and two civilians were wounded in the attack near the Zahraa school, used as a voting centre. Full Story from Reuters via swissinfo.

Iraq's historic polls open (AFP via

Washington Times: Great expectations in Iraq.

Oliver North: Bombs, bullets, ballots (Washington Times)

AP story on the polls opening, and on the few sketchy details of the blast(s). [link update #1]

The story notes Turnout was expected to be low in the early hours. Most attacks occur in the morning, and many Iraqis were likely to wait to see if rebels carry through with threats.

Reuters is reporting: "a blast outside a polling station in west Baghdad, some casualties -police".

Up1: Christine Amanpour on CNN claimed she heard multiple explosions, and also reported that police sources say the explosion near (at?) the polling station was mortar fire. The cause of the explosions are often uninformed guesses, so I caution readers not to presume a source until it has been confirmed.

CNN anchor Charles Hodson, from London, talks to a correspondent in Bacquba about two polling centers where election workers have not yet shown up. Although the correspondent mentions that other polling centers in the city are up and running, with people voting, Hodson queries the correspondent "[...] absolute disaster, isn't it? I mean, this is the nightmare scenario where it's impossible to hold the election"

CNN continues to forecast doom, 57 minutes into polling.

New Straits Times (Malaysia) and Fox News cover the polls opening.

Iraq's first multiparty polls in half a century began at dawn on Sunday, elections intended to unite the country but which could instead foment sectarian strife and which insurgents have vowed to turn into a bloodbath. (Reuters)

The White House is keenly watching the Iraqi election because it could affect U.S. military action there and sap President Bush's political strength here and abroad if the balloting doesn't lead to stability. (AP via The Guardian [UK])

Only 40 minutes into the quite peaceful elections, and CNN is, quote, "following the trail of blood". This was preceded by pre-taped scenes of violence, and scenes of Iraqis grieving over loved ones who died in terrorist attacks.

Is everyone else getting the same coverage on other networks?

Voters trickled into polling stations under tight security Sunday in Iraq, casting ballots despite promises by insurgents to sabotage the country's first free election in a half-century. (AP)

Also CNN, BBC initial reports.


Roger Simon is liveblogging the elections.

Belgravia Dispatch has an Iraqi elections special.

Jeff Jarvis has a roundup of Iraqi blogger opinions.

A CNN correspondent asks the senior editor of "Arab Affairs" what role the Arab media has in determining the legitimacy of today's elections.

In your editor's opinion, the Iraqi people not the Arab media largely determine the legitimacy.

Iraqis vote

Live shots from Iraq are on U.S. television, of Iraqis voting in this historic election. Liveblogging continues as events unfold.

The streets are relatively quiet as people just wake up.

Polls opened 6 minutes ago, as of this writing.

Turnout in Basra, like the rest of southern Iraq where Shi'ites, who make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population, are in the majority, is expected to be strong. But threats remain and local security forces are taking no chances. (AP)

Tension clouds Iraq's Fallujah on eve of elections (XINHUA online)

A senior Shi'ite cleric urged Iraqis on Saturday to boycott Sunday's landmark elections and take up arms to expel U.S. forces from the country. "The current elections are a conspiracy to divide and destroy Iraq," Ayatollah Ahmed al-Hassani al-Baghdadi told Reuters on the eve of Iraq's first multi-party poll in 50 years. (AP)

Iraq on a Knife Edge. (Gulf Daily News)

Editorial: Challenge of Elections (Arab News) Iraq's choice: Terror or freedom

Another editorial from the Washington Post.

Editorial: Iraq election: Freedom's bloody road. (The Independent [UK])