Saturday, October 22, 2005

AP: Turnout by province in Iraq's Oct. 15 referendum on a new constitution as reported by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. Countrywide, 9,775,000 Iraqis voted, about 63 percent of registered voters. the commission said.

AP: Iran's supreme leader, long a critic of the United States, praised the U.S.-backed constitutional referendum in Iraq as "blessed" Friday and urged Iraqis to participate December's parliamentary elections.

BBC: Referendum crisis looms in Iraq

Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel editorial: The Iraq Constitution: And They Call This Victory?

San Jose Mercury News: New constitution may have hard time halting Iraq's fragmentation

Friday, October 21, 2005

Outlook India (London): Iraq, After The Constitution. A reader asks: The successful adoption of a federal constitution in Iraq is a notable achievement. But will it help maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq as it has existed since 1921, an end to violence or flowering of democracy? [...]

Reuters: Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who has said Iraq is on the verge of civil war, held talks with Iraqi leaders on Thursday on a tough mission to promote national reconciliation in a country ravaged by violence. On his first postwar visit to Iraq, the former Egyptian diplomat met Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and was also expected to hold talks with President Jalal Talabani and leading Shi’ite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Arab states such as Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia have complained that non-Arab Shi’ite Iran is gaining influence in Iraq to the detriment of regional stability. Arab commentators have also said the draft constitution weakens Iraq’s Arab identity. For his part, Moussa, a veteran Egyptian diplomat, has criticised what he says is a lack of any strategy to reconcile Iraq’s rival communities.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Washington Post via San Jose Mercury News: Sandstorms, voting probe delay Iraq election results. Bad weather and possible ballot irregularities may delay the final tally in Iraq's constitutional referendum until the end of the week, the organization tabulating the vote said Tuesday. Sandstorms have prevented some ballots from reaching Baghdad to be certified, and officials said they were conducting a random audit of results after more than half of Iraq's 18 provinces registered notably high percentages of either ``yes'' or ``no'' votes. [...]

Kurdistan Regional Government: Iraq’s Constitution: Excerpts and Analysis.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Newsday: Final results from Iraq's landmark referendum on a new constitution will likely not be announced until Friday at the earliest because of delays getting counts to the capital and a wide-ranging audit of an unexpectedly high number of "yes" votes, election officials said. The returns have raised questions over the possibility of irregularities in the balloting. With the delays, the outcome of the crucial referendum will remain up in the air possibly into next week, at a time when the government had hoped to move public attention to a new milestone: the start of the trial of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein on Wednesday.

Reuters via Moscow Times: Iraq Rejects Suggestions of Referendum Fraud. Iraqi officials checking results from some regions from Saturday's constitutional referendum said on Tuesday that the audit did not imply fraud in the voting. Iraq's electoral commission said on Monday that it would follow international practice by examining "unusually high" results from provinces which recorded margins of 90 percent or more in favor or against the new draft constitution. The statement fueled debate over the bitterly fought referendum, with some Sunni Arab leaders suggesting the Shiite- and Kurdish-led government had fiddled with numbers to ensure passage of the U.S.-backed charter.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Reuters: Iraqi officials checking results from some regions in Saturday's constitutional referendum said on Tuesday the audit did not imply fraud in the voting.

Monday, October 17, 2005

AP: Election workers announced "unusually high" vote counts in Iraq's landmark referendum on the draft constitution, saying Monday that they will audit results showing unexpected ratios of "yes" to "no" votes from some parts of the country.

BBC editorial: No easy answers to Iraq's troubles.

Iran News: Iran's foreign minister said Monday that Iraq was facing the promise of "bright future with peace and stability" amid expections the country had approved a new constitution in a referendum. In a congratulatory message, Manouchehr Mottaki also called for the "continuation of broad cooperation of the Iraqi people in the political arena" in order to "achieve independence, the exit of foreign forces and a return of Iraq to its natural regional position." [...]

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia): Iraqi experiment splitting at the seams. This is another don't-know kind of week in Iraq. The result of Saturday's national referendum won't be known before Thursday but it appears a new constitution has been endorsed. Not that it's going to make much difference. It will give hope to American diehards who will claim the process and the document are proof of democracy at work. But, sadly, the reverse is the case. This is a Clayton's constitution - a conflicted, contradictory unity bill for a country tearing itself apart, accepted in a vote dictated by the fault lines of Iraqi history. Here are some of the elements of the constitution that mock notions of national unity and invite civil war. [...]

A few similar stories reporting on the results:

The Australian: All but two Iraqi provinces say yes. A higher than expected turnout by Sunni voters appears to have failed to stop passage of Iraq's draft constitution, with early counts suggesting a yes vote in all but two of the country's 18 provinces. The likely victory seems certain to spark more violence and raises the prospect of Iraq being divided along ethnic and sectarian lines. The Sunni Arab minority, which violently opposed the new charter, lives largely within four provinces in the centre of Iraq and needed to muster a two-thirds no vote in three of the provinces in order to defeat it.

The Age (Australia): A step closer to democratic rule. Iraqis are set to elect a democratic government after supporting the weekend's landmark constitution referendum. President Jalal Talabani yesterday issued a decree setting December 15 as the date Iraqis will vote to elect a new parliament. Iraq's constitution seemed assured of passage after initial results showed minority Sunni Arabs had fallen short in an effort to veto it at the polls. The apparent acceptance was a major step in the attempt to establish a democratic government, which could lead to the pull-out of US troops. Opponents failed to secure the necessary two-thirds "no" vote in any three of Iraqi's 18 provinces, according to counts local officials provided yesterday. [...]

Walid Phares of World Defense Review: On October 15, 2005, an historic Iraqi victory was registered in the 6,235 polling centers across the country. Millions of Iraqis cast their ballot for a "yes" or a "no" to the new constitution. Regardless of the final results, the political process in the post-Baath Iraq is emerging as a victor against the stubborn terror attacks by al Qaida and the Saddam regime remnants. From that angle alone, the bloc of 15.4 million registered voters – including those who voted "no," or weren't able to participate because of fear – have defeated one more time the forces of Jihadism and Baathism. On January 30, the very first free election in Iraq dealt the first blow to the Terrorists. The October 15 referendum produced the second defeat to the Jihadists. Here is why: [...]

IOL (South Africa): World leaders praise Iraq for referendum move. The referendum on the Iraqi constitution was hailed internationally on Sunday as a key step towards democracy and stability, and what Washington called a "bad day" for terrorists. With the results not yet known, both Western countries and the Arab Gulf states congratulated the Iraqis on holding the vote, hoping the process would bring back security to the troubled country. [...]

Washington Post: For the Bush administration, the apparent approval of Iraq's constitution is less of a victory than yet another chance to possibly fashion a political solution that does not result in the bloody division of Iraq. Publicly, administration officials hailed the result but privately some officials acknowledged that the road ahead is still very difficult, especially because Sunni Arab voters appeared to have rejected the constitution by wide margins. As one official put it, every time the administration appears on the edge of a precipice, it manages to cobble together a result that allows it to move on to the next precipice. [...]

The Courier-Mail (Australia): Iraq reaffirms December poll date. Iraq was to hold parliamentary elections on December 15, regardless of whether yesterday's referendum on a new constitution was successful or not. The election date has been confirmed today by the office of the president. Iraq's interim constitution, drawn up last year, stated that parliamentary elections would have to be held by December 15, 2005. Results of the referendum on adopting a new constitution are not yet known, but early returns suggest it was approved. "December 15 is the day," Kamaran Padaghi, a spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, said. [...]

CTV (Canada): Iraq notebook: Referendum Day

AP update:

Initial Results From Iraq's Referendum. Initial results from Iraq's constitutional referendum, as reported by election officials in each province. The figures are from the first tallies done by each province's counting centers, which must be sent to Baghdad for another check and compilation. The final official figures, likely to be announced no sooner than Tuesday, may differ. [...]

Iraq's Sunni Arabs Have Choices to Make. They turned out to vote this time, but appeared to have lost at the polls. Will Iraq's Sunni Arabs still stick with the political process they have finally joined? Or, dismayed by their country's direction, will they return to the sidelines and look to the Sunni-led insurgency for a better deal? Sunni Arabs, a minority that had traditionally formed Iraq's ruling class, came out of their political isolation Saturday to vote in droves on a draft constitution that many of them see as flawed. Accounting for just 20 percent of Iraq's estimated 27 million people, they mostly voted "no," but the charter seemed virtually certain of passage. [...]

The Independent (UK): Sunni voters fail to block Iraq's new constitution. Iraqi voters have almost certainly approved a new constitution that reduces the authority of central government and gives strong powers to Kurdish and Shia regions. Early counting of votes cast in the referendum on Saturday suggests that the Sunni community was unable to muster enough votes to veto the constitution. To do so, the Sunni needed to win two-thirds of the votes in three provinces. There was a high turnout in Sunni-dominated provinces, but only in two of them - Anbar and Salahudin - did those opposed to the constitution appear to be heading for victory. [...]

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Reuters: Iraqis look to have voted "Yes" to their U.S.-brokered constitution, as poll workers counted and recounted piles of ballots across Iraq on Sunday and the possibility of a Sunni minority veto receded.

AP: Some Iraqis in the Detroit area welcomed this weekend's vote on Iraq's constitution, which seemed assured of passage Sunday despite strong opposition from Sunni Arabs. Some, like Khalid Al Saeedy, said the vote is one more step toward establishing a peaceful democracy in Iraq. [...]

Fareed Zakaria (Newsweek): Finally, a Smart Iraq Strategy. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, has been doing yeoman service there. Last week he snatched a small victory from the jaws of defeat by getting the largest organized Sunni group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, to agree with the Shia and Kurds on amendments to the new Iraqi constitution. The effect of these amendments was to lessen the import of Saturday's vote for the constitution. The constitution can now be amended at will by the next Iraqi Parliament, which will be elected on Dec. 15. In other words, if the constitution fails, it will be rewritten, and if it succeeds, it can be rewritten. [...]

Strategypage: Another Election Carried Out Despite Terrorist Threats

Blog "...Or Does It Explode?": One small step. Three years ago on October 15, Iraqis went to the polls for a tense election showdown between Saddam Hussein and himself. The razor-thin margin of victory was a mere .01%... under 100%. Five months later, the referendum lead by US tanks and fighter jets produced a slightly different outcome. Three years later, October 15 sees another election. This time, thanks to a relative lack of terror attacks, we get to see civil society in action on a national scale.

AP: Sunni Arabs voted in surprisingly high numbers on Iraq's new constitution Saturday, many of them hoping to defeat it in an intense competition with Shiites and Kurds over the shape of the nation's young democracy after decades of dictatorship. With little violence, turnout was more than 66 percent in the three most crucial provinces. [...]

Reuters: Washington thinks Iraqis voted "Yes" to their U.S.-brokered constitution but as poll workers counted and recounted piles of ballots across Iraq on Sunday the possibility of a Sunni minority veto lurked in the background. "Most people assume on the ground that it probably has passed," Rice told reporters during a visit to London, hailing the turnout in Sunni Arab areas which had largely boycotted a vote in January to the parliament that wrote the constitution. [...]

AP via CNN: Arab press split on Iraq's future. Iraq may be on the road to recovery after its landmark constitutional referendum, some Arab newspapers predicted Sunday, while others suggested bloodier days were still ahead regardless of the vote outcome. [...]

Reuters: The United Nations hailed Iraq's constitutional referendum on Saturday as "incredibly peaceful", with few infringements of procedure.

AP: Various stories as Iraq's citizens go to the polls.

New York Times: Read the entire text of Iraq's draft Constitution.

Reuters: Provinces in focus as Iraq counts votes. [...] The key could lie in the northern province of Nineveh and the city of Mosul. Sitting some 400 km (250 miles) north of Baghdad, Mosul has a volatile mix of about two million Sunni Arabs and Kurds near some of Iraq's richest oil fields. [...]

AP: Sunnis turn out to reject Iraqi charter. [...] Sunni Arabs voters turned out in surprising numbers Saturday, many of them heeding calls of their clerics to reject the charter. If two-thirds of voters in three Sunni provinces reject the constitution, it will be defeated, even if it wins a majority nationwide. But even if minority Sunnis fail to block the charter's ratification, a strong "no" vote within the community - which dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein - raises questions about whether the charter will fulfill Washington's goal of luring fighters away from the Sunni-led insurgency. [...]

Focus English News: Kurds in Northern Iraq voted actively in today’s referendum on a new Constitution of Iraq.

ABC News / AFP: Counting underway in Iraq referendum. Iraqi officials are counting ballots after a historic vote on a US-backed constitution, with the fate of the document hanging one a few provinces where Sunnis may muster enough "no" votes to block it. [...] Election officials said partial results from the vote could be available as early as Sunday, but that it would take several days for the verdict to become clear. [...]

Spiral of Lies blog: Why it was worth it. I am watching the results of the Iraqi Constitutional voting, amazed. Amazed that no one is talking about this vote in the proper historical context. Because today will be as important to the War on Terror as the fall of the Berlin Wall was to the Cold War.