Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Shiite alliance won a slim majority in Iraq's new National Assembly, according to certified election returns announced Thursday, but it may take weeks to form a government. Meanwhile, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi cautioned against excluding all Saddam Hussein's supporters. Allawi told The Associated Press that the alliance must change its platform of purging Sunnis who were members of Saddam's Baath Party from government positions if it wants national unity. (Salt Lake Tribune)

K Gajendra Singh: Iraqi Kurds Flex Muscles, Rice Was No Turkish Delight (Al Jazeera)

The Nation: Disharmony in Kurdistan

(recap) Iraq's Shiite Alliance Forms Majority (AP via The Moscow Times)

Iraq Election Blog posts the final seat allocation. Blogger Hammorabi has a similar post.

AP interviews Chalabi.

Iraq's Post-Election Political Landscape: Stuggling to Find Consensus. The math is straightforward. There are 275 seats in Iraq's incoming parliament, the Transitional National Assembly. It takes a two-thirds majority or 184 seats, to control it and choose Iraq's new prime minister, president and two vice-presidents. Two political blocs can do that now. The United Iraqi Alliance, comprised of Shi'a parties, won 140 assembly seats with 48 percent of the vote. The Kurdistan Alliance gained 75 assembly seats with about 26 percent of the vote. Together, the Shi'a and Kurdish blocs have 215 seats. (Voice of America)

Kurdistan Observer op-ed: Results of January 2005 Elections: Joyous Winners and Bad Losers

Showdown vote may be needed to pick Iraq leader. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, one of two Shiite leaders locked in a struggle to be named Iraq's prime minister, made a surprise appearance yesterday at a ceremony to certify the makeup of the new national assembly and said the contest for the top spot could come down to a showdown vote within his own coalition in the next two to three days. (New York Times via Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Amir Taheri, Arab News: Iraq on the Road to Democracy. An election that was not supposed to happen because terrorists and insurgents in Iraq, and their sympathizers in the West, did not want it has produced results that the doomsters that fought to prevent it did not expect. [...]

The Republic: Iraqi elections cover up the crime. We're witnessing a digestive miracle: throughout Canada and the United States, people are swallowing buckets of bullshit without gagging. I'm speaking, of course, about the mainstream media's coverage of the elections for a transitional national assembly in Iraq. Before we heap one more laurel upon the president's witless head, let's remember that the Bush administration didn't want these elections to occur at all. [...]

Friday, February 18, 2005

A Shiite alliance won a slim majority in Iraq's new National Assembly, according to certified election returns announced Thursday, but it may take weeks to form a government. Meanwhile, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi cautioned against excluding all Saddam Hussein's supporters. Because a two-thirds majority in the 275-member parliament, or 182 seats, is required for confirming the top positions in the new government, the United Iraqi Alliance will have to make deals with the other parties. The alliance won 140 seats, while Kurdish parties got 75, secular Shiites took 40 and nine smaller parties shared 20, the final returns of the Jan. 30 elections showed. (AP)

Iraq's interim prime minister cautioned the winning Shiite alliance against banning members of Saddam Hussein's former party from government, saying Thursday that it would "throw the country into problems." In an interview with The Associated Press, Ayad Allawi urged the incoming government to focus on national unity and reconciliation rather than hit at those Iraqis - mainly Sunni Muslims - who dominated Iraq until their abrupt removal from power following the U.S.-led war in 2003. (AP) Also from AP, a transcript of their Allawi interview.

The U.N. Security Council congratulated Iraqis on their historic elections and urged the new transitional government Wednesday to ensure that all sectors of society have a voice in drafting a new constitution. (AP)

Dr. James Zogby: The Challenges Facing Iraq After Elections. The Jan. 30, 2005 Iraqi election took place against the backdrop of a deep sectarian divide on almost every critical issue facing the country — whether or not to have an Islamic government; whether or not to continue the US presence; and whether or not the ongoing insurgency represents legitimate resistance. Even before the final tallies are announced, the attitudes of Iraq’s electorate can be culled from an exclusive pre-election poll commissioned by Abu Dhabi Television and conducted by Zogby International of New York (ADTV/ZI). (Palestine Chronicle)

Blog Iraq The Model: Democracy in progress

Blogger Ali, over at Free Iraqi: Some observations from the Iraqi elections.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A week of frenetic deal making is under way following the results of Iraq’s parliamentary elections, as winning parties struggle to hammer out a coalition to approve a new government. Two thirds of the 275 new members of parliament must now approve a three-man presidency council, which will have the power to veto legislation passed by parliament, and will in turn choose a prime minister. (Financial Times)

Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said he expected the country's next government to be Islamic. But he hoped more liberal voices would be heard in the shaping of Iraq's future. (Fairfax Digital [Australia])

Turkey called Wednesday for a "comprehensive presence" of international observers to check any irregularities at a referendum on Iraq's constitution this year. (AFP via

MEMRI: Iraqi Elections (VI): The Results and Their Implications

Many view Shiite political leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari as a cleric in a business suit. He is now in the spotlight as his chances grow to win the nomination to be Iraq's first prime minister. Members of the United Iraqi Alliance agreed Wednesday to hold a secret ballot, most likely on Friday, to choose between Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi. Al-Jaafari spoke to The Associated Press this week: [...]

What Next for Iraq's Government? (AP)

Turkey, home to the largest Kurdish minority in the world, is watching nervously as Kurds gain unprecedented political power in neighboring Iraq following major gains in that country's elections. Opposition to Kurdish nationalism has been a cornerstone of Turkish policy for decades, out of fear that Turkish Kurds could be encouraged to press for independence. Some 12 million Kurds live in Turkey. (AP)

Only 12 of the 111 parties and candidate lists that competed in Iraq's election got enough votes to qualify for seats in the new National Assembly, under provisional results. Here is how the election commission determines the allocation of seats: [...] (AP)

A Chaldean bishop of Baghdad is optimistic in the wake of the Iraqi elections, though he is concerned about the rights of Christians. (Zenit News Agency [Rome]) Who won the Iraqi elections? The neocons!

The Michigan Daily: After elections, Iraqi democracy remains an untested proposition. A marginalization of Sunnis in post-Saddam politics could fuel the insurgency and extend America's stay in Iraq.

The Oakland Tribune: Iraq's election sets tone for compromise

Zaman Online: The Danger Awaiting Iraq. Were America's expectations met in the Iraqi elections? The Washington Post's interpretation is interesting: "US faced with an unexpected post-election picture of Iraq." Actually, the Iraqi elections were not like the Afghani elections. The support given to Hamid Kharzai in Afghanistan did not conflict with the election outcome. In Iraq, however, the US had to bow its head in acceptance of the victory of Shiite groups close to Iran. The alliance supported by the spiritual leader of the Iraqi Shiites Ayatollah al-Sistani gained a significant advantage by winning about 50 percent of the votes. Some comments have come to agenda that Shiite's power will increase in the region, and Iran will play a role as the center of gravity of this power. [...]

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Soft-spoken Jaafari tipped as Iraq PM Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari, favoured to become prime minister, prefers diplomacy and dialogue to navigate around sectarian minefields the emerged after the January 30 elections. The main Shi'ite alliance, winner of the election, favours Dawa Party leader Jaafari for prime minister, a senior Shi'ite political source said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi Kurdish leader positioned to become the country's next president, crowned a lifelong struggle for Kurdish rights with huge success in the country's historic Jan. 30 election. Polling 25 percent of the national vote, his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and its election partner, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), are Iraq's new power brokers and Talabani is confident his wish to be president will be granted. (Reuters)

Now the real game begins. Iraqi voters have given a Shia coalition a clear majority vote, but by splitting their votes among various Shia parties, Iraqis have made it necessary for a long, difficult process of bargaining to begin, not only to form a government but to write a new constitution. In the long run, this could be a positive development for Iraq. It prevents any one group, especially the Islamic fundamentalists, from being able to dictate a result and means there must be a process of give and take, of genuine compromise, to create a new nation. In Iraq, a nation in which a minority - the Sunnis - had ruled for centuries, the danger of tyranny by the majority loomed as a potential problem. Now a coalition government will make that less likely. (Newsday)

IRAQ ELECTION WINNERS: NOW, THE HORSE-TRADING The results of Iraq's first free elections are in. They're better than any realist could have expected. And, predictably, the media are grasping at every possible negative. Let's look at things honestly. [...] (New York Post)

Once seen as a possible postwar leader of Iraq, controversial politician and former banker Ahmad Chalabi is a long shot for prime minister but dealmaking could land him a senior post. He has fallen out with his U.S. backers, but the secular Chalabi has cultivated alliances with Shi'ite parties who won the Jan. 30 elections. (Sign On San Diego)

The contest to be Iraq's next prime minister narrowed Tuesday after the French-educated finance minister removed himself from consideration in the ranks of the Shiite alliance, making it a two-man race, party spokesmen said. The United Iraqi Alliance, which has provisionally won more than half the seats in the new National Assembly, has been left with two main contenders, interim Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi, the former Pentagon favorite. (AP)

Arab street watching closely following Iraqi elections. Will U.S., Europe stand by democracy everywhere? (Houston Chronicle)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Papers analyse Iraqi elections. The politics of the Middle East will never be the same again - democracy is an idea whose time has come for the Arab world. (BBC News)

Next Five Steps After the Iraqi Elections. Official results of the Iraqi national elections, which were held on January 30, were announced yesterday after a three day delay. Iraqis will go through the following stages after the polls: [...] (Zaman Online [Turkey])

Arabic News notes: Iraqi elections participation at 59%; al-Seistani list wins the majority, Allawi is the third after the Kurds. The Independent Higher Commission Of The Elections in Iraq announced that the united Iraqi coalition list supported by the Shiite clergy Ayatullah al-Seistani won 48.1% of the votes in the national assembly ( Parliament) elections which took place on January 30th. In a press conference held in Baghdad, the commission said that this list got 4,075,291 votes out of 8,456,266 voted followed by the list of the Kurdish parties which got 25.7%, representing 2,175,551 votes. The list of the interim prime minister Eyad Allawi took the third position by getting 13.8% of the votes.

Turkey: Iraqi Elections Proof Of Support To Democracy. (

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah expressed hope on Monday that Iraq's elections would represent an important step towards stability in the country, the Kuwait News Agency reported. (XINHUA online)

Iran has welcomed the results of Iraq's elections as a step forward for democracy, saying it expected Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim majority, which won the largest share of votes, would work with the country's other ethnic groups. "Certainly it is promotion of democracy and in that respect we welcome that," said Iranian Foreign Minister Kamel Kharrazi. (The Age)

Matthew Rothschild: Beyond the Iraqi Elections. (

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Prominent Sunni leader Adnan Pachachi declared Sunday that he was "disappointed" with Sunday`s official ballot tally in Iraq, saying that low Sunni turnout across the country left that segment of the country`s population "disenfranchised." "We were disappointed, naturally, because of the very small, low turnout in many areas. It made it impossible for us to be represented on the national assembly," Pachachi, a former member of the Iraqi Governing Council, told CNN television. (AFP via In a similar AFP story, low turnout by Iraqi Sunni voters was a concern, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh told CNN television Sunday.

Charles Clover: Iraq has hosted no less than three momentous handovers of power by the US-led coalition since the end of the war in 2003, each accompanied by slightly higher expectations that a more sovereign and more legitimate Iraqi state could finally emerge to start mending the fractured society. The success of January's parliamentary elections, whose results were announced on Sunday, is likely to depend on the extent that the winners can share power, and create the climate for a political solution to the country's bloody insurgency. (Financial Times)

State Department praises Iraqi elections. (

Under the "democracy spreading around the world" theme, some Saudi Arabia election news: 73.6% participation in the local elections in Riyadh (Arabic News), and Islamists win landmark Saudi elections (Reuters)

AP update:

Outgoing Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's list came third in Iraq's election, yet the tough-talking US-backed leader's political story is far from over, despite widespread criticism of his time in office. (AFP via TurkishPress)

Shia bloc wins Iraq polls as Sunnis marginalised. (Financial Times)

Sistani wins without a single vote. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was not a candidate in Iraq's elections, but can claim the credit for shepherding Shiites to power for the first time in an Arab country in more than 1000 years. The Sistani-backed main Shiite list, the United Iraqi Alliance, swept to power with almost half the votes cast in the historic vote, a stunning victory for the once-oppressed majority that makes up 60 per cent of the population. (

Amr Hamzawy of Carnegie: The Real 'Arab Street'. The turnout in last Sunday's Iraqi elections surprised even the most optimistic observers in the Middle East. Reading Arab newspapers during the weeks before the vote, one could hardly escape the expectation that the adventure of holding elections in Iraq was certain to be a fiasco. The bulk of Arab intellectuals and journalists foresaw a minimal turnout and possibly devastating results, such as an outbreak of civil war between the Shiite and Sunni populations and the emergence of an Iranian-controlled Islamic republic of Iraq. [...] Assessing Arab public opinion is notoriously difficult because of widespread media censorship and government domination of the media. One of the few real indicators we have are readers' written comments on op-ed articles published in Arab dailies, especially in the regional newspapers such as al-Hayat and al-Sharq al-Awsat. [...] (Washington Post)

Iraqi elections continue to divide Arabs two weeks later. (AP) [AP story posted before election results were available]

Muqtedar Khan: Have Iraqis voted for a dictatorship? (Daily Times [Pakistan])

Gareth Porter: The Real Story of the Iraqi Elections. The U.S. government and most pundits have painted Iraq’s recent elections as a great victory over the Iraqi insurgents, who opposed them, and as a vindication of the Bush administration’s policy of bringing democracy to the Middle East. Amid the orgy of self-congratulation over the bravery of Iraqi voters, officials and commentators have ignored the most important story of the election results: a Sunni electoral boycott that demonstrates a level of support for the insurgency in the Sunni triangle that is far greater than what the administration has admitted. (ZNet)

Blog Call a Spade a Spade salutes an Iraqi politician whose two sons were recently killed in an attack on him.

BBC News: Iraq election: Who ran? Iraq's first nationwide election since the toppling of Saddam Hussein took place on 30 January. Here are a number of figures and parties that figured prominently.

  • Leading personalities
  • Shia parties
  • Kurdish parties
  • Other players
  • Parties boycotting the election

results wrap-up

A Shiite Muslim coalition failed to win a majority in Iraq's National Assembly election, meaning the nation may be run by a coalition administration formed around a secular figure such as interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. The United Iraqi Alliance, backed by Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, won 47.6 percent of the vote in the Jan. 30 election, the Independent Electoral Commission announced at a news conference broadcast from Baghdad today by networks including Qatar-based al-Jazeera. A two-thirds majority is required to form a government. (Bloomberg)

Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims won nearly half the votes in the nation's landmark Jan. 30 election, giving the long-oppressed group significant power but not enough to form a government on its own, according to results released Sunday. (AP)

And a similar story from Al Jazeera: An alliance of Shia groups won the most votes in Iraq's 30 January election, but the percentage it received - 47.6% - was lower than many expected, according to the final vote tally released on Sunday.

A list of the political alliances receiving the most votes in Iraq's Jan. 30 national elections: ... (AP)

Poll turnout low in Iraq's Sunni provinces. Only 2 per cent of eligible Iraqis in the Sunni Arab-dominated Anbar province voted in Iraq's elections, and only 29 per cent in the mainly Sunni Salahadin province, the final tally released on Sunday showed. (ABC News Online)

What next for Iraq's new lawmakers? What's next for the incoming members of Iraq's 275-member National Assembly? (AP via Boston Globe)

The Shiite alliance backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani received the most votes of any party but failed to win a majority, election officials said today. Of about 8.46 million votes cast in the January 30 election, the powerful cleric's United Iraq Alliance received 4.08 million, the combined Kurdish parties 2.17 million and the Iraqi list of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi 1.17 million. (CNN)