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Iraq election thread

Old 12-05-05, 09:09 AM
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Iraq election thread

Less than two weeks until the election there. Figured this would be a good article to start the thread off w/.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1205/p...oiq.html?s=hns
More Iraqis look to vote secular Dec. 15
Many see the nonsectarian parties as the best alternative for a unified and stable Iraq.
By Howard LaFranchi | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
BAGHDAD – Best friends Ali Zaydun and Jamal Hammudi have been playing dominoes on Friday nights for years. But now Ali is unable to visit his friend's house, because the Sunni Al Dora neighborhood is unsafe for the two Shiites (whose last names have been changed to protect their identities).

Ali seethes at "a situation we never had before in Iraq," and says he blames the country's Shiite-dominated government. As a result, the young computer programmer supports the secular alliance of former prime minister Ayad Allawi in upcoming national elections. "Believe me," he says, "I hope every day Allawi can win and make one Iraq instead of all these separations of the people."

Like Ali, more Iraqis appear to be turning to one of the Dec. 15 election's secular parties as the best alternative for a unified and stable Iraq. Mostly it's better educated Iraqis or those from smaller ethnic groups who are making this choice, so their prospects for equaling the voting power of Iraqis following the electoral directives of religious leaders remains unclear.

But some of Iraq's top leaders say that the single most important choice Iraqis will make in the December vote will be between a secular and modernizing government and a religious-based one. The fact that Iraqis will be choosing their first permanent four-year government since Saddam Hussein's fall only adds to the significance, they say.

"This contest between the secular and religious visions of government is really the main choice to be made," says Adnan Pachachi, a prominent Sunni statesman who has joined Mr. Allawi's Iraqi National list. "It won't be decided in one election, but it is a basic choice between an open and progressive Iraq and one that is backward and continues to fall behind."

"Yes, there is an Islamic identity to the people of Iraq and their history," he adds. "But the question is if we will be Islamic in identity and modern and open, or more like countries where religion plays a more important governing role, like Iran, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and Saudi Arabia. Those examples are not very inspiring."

Allawi - a secular Sunni and former Baathist turned Saddam opponent and CIA favorite, before being named prime minister in July 2004 - would appear to face an uphill battle. As prime minister he governed during intense battles in Fallujah, Najaf and Baghdad's poor Sadr City slum, infuriating some key groups. His government was also accused of corruption.

Only 14 percent in January

In January's elections for a provisional government, Allawi only scored about 14 percent of the vote - compared with 51 percent for the "Shiite House" coalition that eventually formed the government that rules today.

The new government coming out of this month's elections will have to be able to win a two-thirds vote of the new parliament to be installed.

No one expects any one group to win even a majority of seats.

And even if the governing Shiite coalition registers a decline in support as anticipated, no one expects them to fall below a third - which means Allawi would have to attract moderate Shiite support in the new parliament to be named prime minister.

But observers say Allawi has several factors going for him now - in addition to the growing fears of rising sectarianism.

First, the nine-month-old government has disappointed even many Shiites, who find it has been incompetent and unable to even begin addressing Iraqis' key concerns of security and employment.

Second, the country's sizable Sunni minority has been registering in large numbers and is expected to vote this time around, unlike in January when they largely sat out the vote.

The dire and unchanged lack of security for average Iraqis will likely encourage voters to favor someone they consider to be a strongman, and that will help Allawi, some experts say.

"Some people associate Mr. Allawi with strength, so that and the fact that he does not talk like a sectarian may convince people he is better than the others," says Nabeal Younis, a senior lecturer in public policy at Baghdad University.

Allawi has his enemies

Mr. Younis also says that one of the reasons some Iraqis see Allawi as a strongman - the battles for major cities that occurred during his government - will also hurt him.

"People don't forget his attacks on Fallujah and Najaf and Sadr City," says Younis.

Indeed, during a visit to the Shiite holy city of Najaf Sunday, Allawi said that about 60 men armed with pistols, knives, and swords planned to attack him.

He said the attempt was made while he was performing prayers at the Shrine of Imam Ali, one of the Shiites' holiest in Iraq.

"They were planning to kill the whole delegation, or at least me," Allawi told reporters shortly after he arrived back in Baghdad.

Footage shown on television stations showed Allawi running from the shrine as shoes and stones were thrown at him.

Younis also points out that Allawi's connection to the American occupation remains a liability.

"People don't want the influence of Iran, which is why they are turning away from the current government," he says, "but they also don't want someone who is working for the American occupation."

If Sunnis vote in large numbers, says Younis, himself a Sunni assisting a list of Sunni candidates, it will be "as a way to precipitate the end of the occupation."

But Younis says Iraqis will also be voting for a unified Iraq, for a true national army and not an army consisting of party and tribal militias as he says now exists. And if that is indeed motivating Iraqis, it would seem to help Allawi, who emphasizes national unity over party and secular identification.

Allawi justifies the battle of Fallujah - which was actually decided by American forces - by insisting that it was actually Fallujans who implored him to do something about the strengthening dictatorship of Islamist extremists, foreign and national, in their city.

Allawi supporters also point out that such battles (both in Sunni Fallujah and Shiite Najaf, for example) were really about restoring central-government order over sectarian rebellions. It's an explanation that appears to play well with many nationalist Iraqis.

At the same time, Allawi emphasizes that the ministers in his government were not selected by him but as part of a political balancing act performed by the Americans.

Still, not all of the Dec. 15 election's secularists have joined the Allawi fold.

"I told [Allawi] that history will remember his government for the attacks [on rebellious Iraqi cities] and for the terrible corruption," says Hatem Mukhis, secretary general of the secular Iraqi National Movement and a Sunni. "But this [current] government has been even more corrupt, so that their atrocities and human rights violations have managed to obliterate the dark image of the Allawi government."

Still, like Mr. Pachachi, he says this election will decide the "tilt" of Iraq. And since he says another "religious government" would be "the worst disaster we face," he would consider having his movement join an Allawi coalition after the elections.

Strong national army

Another factor uniting Iraq's secularists is an insistence that Iraq develop a strong national army - and not an army of militias with party or tribal loyalties. That is the only way Iraq will be able to solve the problem of the occupation and avoid civil war, they say.

"No one believes we have a national army now, it is only a collection of militias with differing loyalties," says Younis. "Only by bringing back a true national army will we be able to have a unified Iraq."

Pachachi agrees, placing Iraqi unity under one national army just under secular governance in importance. "It won't be a question of how well-trained or well-equipped the army is but one of the authority it serves," he says.

"If the security forces continue to be dominated as they are now by political groups or sects, then the people won't trust in them - and the result will be civil war or fragmentation of the country," says Pachachi.
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Old 12-05-05, 09:59 AM
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Another factor uniting Iraq's secularists is an insistence that Iraq develop a strong national army - and not an army of militias with party or tribal loyalties. That is the only way Iraq will be able to solve the problem of the occupation and avoid civil war, they say.

"No one believes we have a national army now, it is only a collection of militias with differing loyalties," says Younis. "Only by bringing back a true national army will we be able to have a unified Iraq."

Pachachi agrees, placing Iraqi unity under one national army just under secular governance in importance. "It won't be a question of how well-trained or well-equipped the army is but one of the authority it serves," he says.

"If the security forces continue to be dominated as they are now by political groups or sects, then the people won't trust in them - and the result will be civil war or fragmentation of the country," says Pachachi.
It's going to take some serious courage to break away from the tribal menality and embrace a wider Iraqi state.
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Old 12-12-05, 02:47 PM
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Seems like the voting has started. Does anyone else find it interesting that they seem to be allowing current prisoners (not just ex-cons) to actually vote. I wonder if that was a concession of some sort?


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051212/...NlYwMlJVRPUCUl
Some Iraqis Cast Ballots in Early Voting

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer Mon Dec 12,11:03 AM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Patients, soldiers and prisoners began voting Monday in parliamentary elections, three days ahead of the general population, while insurgents said the balloting violated God's law, and new violence killed at least 12 people.

Five Islamic militant groups, including al-Qaida in
Iraq, denounced Thursday's elections as a "satanic project," vowing to continue their war to establish an Islamic regime, according to an Internet statement. But they made no threats to disrupt the process, unlike earlier balloting when militants warned they would attack polling stations.

To curb violence, the government said it will close borders, extend a nighttime curfew and restrict domestic travel starting Tuesday. In addition, thousands of Iraqi forces will be protecting polling stations, with U.S. and other coalition troops ready in case of a major attack.

In a development that could impact the elections, 13 prisoners who were apparent victims of abuse were discovered at an overcrowded detention center run by the Interior Ministry, Iraqi and U.S. military officials said.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari ordered an investigation into what he described as an "unhealthy phenomenon." A similar case surfaced last month.

"There is a committee following the case. My military adviser is touring all of Iraq's jails to know if there are such cases," al-Jaafari said during a news conference. "I will not allow such dealing with any prisoner."

U.S. officials hope the new parliament can help quell the Sunni-dominated insurgency so American forces can begin heading home. The 275-member assembly will be the first full-term parliament, serving for four years, since
Saddam Hussein's 2003 ouster.

"The reasons for the presence of the multinational forces will start to decrease," al-Jaafari said of the elections.

But he said that a timetable for a withdrawal would also depend on the ability of Iraqi forces to take over security.

"We want the multinational forces to leave, but we don't want security to disappear as well," al-Jaafari said. "When the Iraqi hands are in complete control of the security situation in Iraq, then we will tell the multinational forces, 'Thank you. Please leave the Iraqi lands.'"

A new opinion poll found most Iraqis disapprove of the presence of U.S. forces in their country, yet they are optimistic about Iraq's future and their personal lives.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed oppose the presence of coalition troops, and less than half, 44 percent, say their country is better off now than it was before the war, according to an ABC News poll conducted with Time magazine and other media partners.

But three-quarters say they are confident about the parliamentary elections and more than two-thirds expect things to get better in the coming months, the poll said.

The Internet statement could not be independently verified, but if authentic, it was a rare instance of several of Iraq's militant groups joining together to announce their stance.

"The conspiracy in Iraq against the mujahedeen, the so-called political process ... is nothing more than a satanic project, just like those before it," the statement said.

"To engage in the so-called political process and in the renegade election is religiously prohibited and contradicts the legitimate policy approved by God almighty for the Muslims in our constitution, which is the holy Quran," it said.

Another statement believed to be from an insurgent group said fighting would continue regardless of the vote. The unsigned statement, distributed in the Sunni stronghold of Azamiyah, said Sunnis could use the elections to battle corruption and make some political gains, but that "fighting will continue with the infidels and their followers."

In Egypt, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa urged all Iraqis to vote and "participate in the building of a new Iraq," adding that all fighting and police crackdowns should be suspended for the polling.

An empty minibus loaded with explosives blew up Monday near a Baghdad hospital, killing three civilians and injuring 13, including five police officers, authorities said. Police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said the van's driver abandoned it and ran.

A U.S. soldier was killed Monday in a bombing in Baghdad and another died Sunday before in a suicide bombing near the city of Ramadi, the U.S. command said. The deaths brought to 2,144 the number of U.S. military members killed in Iraq since the war began, according to an Associated Press count.

Clashes killed two police officers and injured nine, police said. Two other people were slain in a drive-by shooting in the southern Dora district of Baghdad.

Gunmen killed three men and injured a woman when they opened fire on a pickup truck with Education Ministry license plates.

In Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed a woman and injured five.

Police also said a businessman and his 23-year-old son were kidnapped in Baghdad's upscale Mansour district.

Monday's early voting saw the first of 1,500 patients cast ballots at Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital, officials said.

"There is a big hall for patients who can easily walk and the election committee moves a box around to the wards where there are patients who can't leave their beds," said Yousif Ibrahim, director of the election center.

It was not be the only early voting ahead of general elections.

On Tuesday, the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi voters living outside the country can begin casting their ballots at polling centers in 15 countries. That voting also ends Thursday.

Suspected insurgents held in U.S. or Iraqi detention but who have not been convicted, are eligible to vote, Iraqi officials said. Saddam, who is jailed and facing trial for the deaths of more than 140 Shiites in 1982, also can vote but it is not known whether he would.

Most attention has focused on Sunni Arabs, who largely boycotted the Jan. 30 election to protest the continued U.S. military presence. That enabled the Shiites and Kurds to dominate parliament, a move that sharpened communal tensions and fueled the insurgency.

This time, more Sunni Arab candidates are in the race, and changes in the election law to allocate most seats by province instead of based on a party's nationwide total all but guaranteed a sizable Sunni bloc in the next assembly.

Turnout in January was about 58 percent but less than 5 percent in the predominantly Sunni province of Anbar, a hotbed of insurgency.

Even with a big Sunni vote, Shiites are expected to win the biggest share of parliamentary seats. Shiites form an estimated 60 percent of Iraq's 27 million people compared to 20 percent for the Sunni Arabs.

In the discovery of the 13 prisoners, a statement by the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry did not say why they needed treatment, but said an investigating judge also ordered the immediate release of 56 people apparently held without reason at the Baghdad facility — which was inspected by a team of investigators Dec. 8.

Opposition parties and Sunni Arab groups have accused the government and the Shiite-dominated security forces of human rights abuses.

The Interior Ministry did not say why they needed treatment, what had caused their injuries, or if they were consistent with abuse or torture.

But an officer at the ministry, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the 13 were taken to a hospital due to "signs of torture."

According to the Human Rights Ministry, the facility located next to the Interior Ministry housed 625 detainees in "very overcrowded" conditions. It added that the Justice Ministry ordered 75 detainees transferred to one of its prisons.

An inspection last month by U.S. troops found up to 173 malnourished detainees at a building of the Shiite-led Interior Ministry in Baghdad's Jadriyah district, and some showed signs of torture. On Nov. 15, al-Jaafari ordered an investigation and promised results within two weeks.
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Old 12-14-05, 09:34 AM
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051214/...tion_mood_dc_1

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Graffiti in west Baghdad's rebel Aadhamiya district calls for holy war, not elections, but the mood there and on streets across the city was the opposite on the eve of Thursday's parliamentary poll.

Although Iraqi and U.S. officials have warned of Sunni Arab violence to sabotage the election, the atmosphere seemed much less tense than in the bloody run-up to a previous election in January.

On a main road in Sunni Aadhamiya, deserted on the first of three days of a national traffic ban, teenagers broke off from a soccer game on the tarmac to voice support for former prime minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shi'ite whose strongman image cuts across
Iraq's violent sectarian lines.

"Iyad Allawi. Iyad Allawi. Iyad Allawi. We want Allawi," said Ahmed Khaled as he and his friends chanted and jumped up and down. "He is a hero and I am a wrestling champion."

Iraqi security forces and soldiers, who have lost thousands of comrades to suicide bombings, were confident of a smooth election that will lead to the formation of the first full-term government since
Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003.

"We know there could be bombings but we're not worried as everyone is voting," said Amin Ali Hussein, 22, an army special forces soldier manning a checkpoint across town from Aadhamiya.
<b>
Arab Sunnis, who boycotted the January elections, are expected to vote in large numbers in a bid to gain influence in a post-war political landscape dominated by Shi'ites and Kurds.
</b>
Iraq's Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders and their U.S. allies hope the election will defuse the insurgency by drawing large numbers of Sunnis into peaceful politics.

SOLDIERS TALK DEMOCRACY
<b>
In a dramatic shift, some guerrillas have encouraged Sunnis to vote and warned al Qaeda militants to refrain from attacking polling stations or they will face retaliation.
</b>
"Nothing will happen. We are not worried," said Abed Ali, 25, casually holding his AK-47 assault rifle as fellow Interior Ministry special forces checked if motorists had permission to drive during an election ban.

Unlike the days of Saddam, when a vote against him could lead to imprisonment or worse, Iraqi troops were throwing around the term democracy with some abandon.

Some said they wanted Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shi'ite Islamist, to return to power. Their tough-talking commander supports Allawi but he declined to say why.

"It's no problem. This is a democracy," said the commander, Muhammed Rashid, in Baghdad's Karada district.

Election posters wallpaper the streets across the city, many taking advantage of the ugly concrete blast walls that ring public buildings to protect them from car bombs.

Security. Jobs. Services. Education -- just some of the promises on display. They seem to have raised hopes.

"I think the election will open some doors," said Mukhalas Ali, 30, a welder in Aadhamiya, where Sunni insurgents have long defied the interim government's forces and U.S. troops.

At the local army headquarters, U.S. troops in Humvee patrol vehicles passed by Iraqi soldiers protecting the gates to what was once one of Saddam's palaces.

A senior Iraqi officer yelled at one of his men when he tried to discuss the elections. But he was ignored.

"We have to get rid of these militias," said soldier Youssef Jabor, referring to groups loyal to the government, which denies accusations it condones militias death squads against Sunnis.

A better standard of living and working conditions were also key demands: "This government makes us pay for our own truck tires when they're punctured," Jabor complained.

"They haven't spent a cent on us. If this is really a democracy then we can say what we want."

In local news the ever changing goal posts from the Dems has shifted from turning over authority and having elections to changing of the Constitution. There is a press conference going on right now w/ some of them so hopefully the news reports will be available soon. It's the same message we heard after Bush's speech on Monday though. Seriously I've never heard a more dreery/pessimistic group of people than these senators

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Old 12-14-05, 09:58 AM
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Not getting enough bites on this thread, so you have to stir the pot eh?

Seriously though, the Iraq war is a really bad issue for the Dems. My opinion is that they had a chance to voice their opinions before they voted to authorize force, otherwise, they are along for the ride. Sure, you can criticize how this administration has bungled their way through the whole thing, but you said "Have at it boys!" when you voted to authorize force. Iraq is a bad issue for the Republicans only if we do badly over there. It's a 50-50 toss up for them, for the Dems, it's bad news either way. If they are pro-war, they lose face with the base of the party, if they are anti-war, they are labeled unpatriotic. Oh what great days to be a Democrat.

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Old 12-14-05, 10:01 AM
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Seems like the voting has started. Does anyone else find it interesting that they seem to be allowing current prisoners (not just ex-cons) to actually vote. I wonder if that was a concession of some sort?
The more pertinent question - does anyone find this thread interesting? It doesn't seem so. Our members are much more concerned about Tookie.

Some would say that those Senators are not being pessimistic, but are simply being realistic.

It's going to be interesting to see how the media 'plays' the election and the results, because, IMO, that will have a bearing on how much bounce, if any, in the polls that Bush receives.
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Old 12-14-05, 10:02 AM
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Oh and it's great that they're having elections. I thought it was hilarious that Saddam was offered the opportunity to vote. Still, until enough Iraqis buy into the whole idea of Iraq over their tribal group and are willing to stick their necks out and shoot at people who want to stop that, then I don't see how we're going to get our troops home any sooner.
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Old 12-14-05, 10:04 AM
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I saw yesterday on television an Iraqi, living in the U. S., at the polls. He had a small child in his arms. It looked as if the child was being thumb printed. They let 'em vote rather young in Iraq, don't they?
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Old 12-14-05, 10:07 AM
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I heard on the radio today that they stopped a fuel truck at the Iranian border and inside, insetad of fuel, it had doctored ballots for the candidates Iran wanted. The driver said 3 other fuel trucks had already reached their destination at their assigned Iraqi polling stations and were flooding those areas with the doctored ballots. The Iraqi officials are denying it, but the border guards are sticking to their story. Maybe I'll hunt for a link.
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Old 12-14-05, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
I heard on the radio today that they stopped a fuel truck at the Iranian border and inside, insetad of fuel, it had doctored ballots for the candidates Iran wanted. The driver said 3 other fuel trucks had already reached their destination at their assigned Iraqi polling stations and were flooding those areas with the doctored ballots. The Iraqi officials are denying it, but the border guards are sticking to their story. Maybe I'll hunt for a link.
Sounds like the good old days in Texas and Illinois.
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Old 12-14-05, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
I saw yesterday on television an Iraqi, living in the U. S., at the polls. He had a small child in his arms. It looked as if the child was being thumb printed. They let 'em vote rather young in Iraq, don't they?
Or...
They are fingerprinting Muslims at a young age now in the US, aren't they?
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Old 12-14-05, 10:14 AM
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Ok, found a link. Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit, but here's what the link story says:

Khaleej Times - Blank Iraqi ballots seized on truck from Iran

BAGHDAD - Hundreds of thousands of blank ballots like those to be used in this week’s Iraqi elections have been found on a tanker truck which entered the country from neighbouring Iran, security officials said on Tuesday.

“A truck with Iranian number plates was intercepted on Tuesday night in the locality of Badra, Wasset province, southeast of Baghdad,” an official said.

Another security source confirmed the discovery and said authorities were looking for three other suspect trucks in areas east of Baghdad near the Iranian border.

“The blank ballots were probably destined to stuff the ballot boxes” in Thursday’s general election, a security official said.

The ballot papers were not printed by the Iraqi Electoral Commission, which is the only body authorised to supply voting materials.

Iraqis go to the polls Thursday for the third time this year to elect a 275-member Council of Representatives that will form the basis of the first permanent post-Saddam Hussein government.
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Old 12-14-05, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
Seriously though, the Iraq war is a really bad issue for the Dems.
You might say that now, but once midterms come around this will probably be their saving grace. Things in Iraq would have to go absolutely perfect from now until 11/7 for the Republicans to keep from losing seats in Congress. This has already been the main theme of almost every candidate who is challenging an incumbent.
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Old 12-14-05, 10:36 AM
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You might say that now, but once midterms come around this will probably be their saving grace. Things in Iraq would have to go absolutely perfect from now until 11/7 for the Republicans to keep from losing seats in Congress. This has already been the main theme of almost every candidate who is challenging an incumbent.
I'm not sure absolute perfection is going to be required but the pressure will certainly be on the those who supported the war (in some races). At this point I fully expect the Reps will lose some seats (the '02 election was certainly an anomoly and I would be very surprised if it was repeated), whether or not it is enough to make a difference in either body remains to be seen though.
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Old 12-14-05, 10:38 AM
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If the Supreme Court rules against the Repubs in Texas' redistricting case - they indeed may lose some seats.
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Old 12-14-05, 11:36 AM
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There is still time for the Republicans. When Bush starts bringing troops home in bunches this spring and summer, it will lessen the cries many Republicans in Congress are hearing from their constituency and make the Dems cries to bring the troops home a little more hollow. There's still a long way to go until the midterms in '06. The Repubs may lose a couple of seats, but they'll still control both houses and the White House and if you can say that after the midterms, you're doing alright.
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Old 12-14-05, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
Ok, found a link. Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit, but here's what the link story says:

Khaleej Times - Blank Iraqi ballots seized on truck from Iran


Report denied repeatedly, including by Bayan Jabor.
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Old 12-14-05, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Pharoh
Report denied repeatedly, including by Bayan Jabor.
He's Iraq's Interior Minister, correct? As I said, the officials in the top ranks of the government are denying the story, but the border guards are sticking to it. It depends on who you believe, or if you care at all.

Having read the NYTimes article, it seems that some of this stuff is 2nd hand info (they didn't actually witness the truck being stopped), so that's suspicious, but I wouldn't necessarily take Jabor's word on it just because of his position.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/14/in...pagewanted=all
By DEXTER FILKINS
Published: December 14, 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 14 -Less than two days before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker on Tuesday that had just crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, an official at the Interior Ministry said.

The tanker was seized in the evening by agents with the American-trained border protection force at the Iraqi town of Badra, after crossing at Munthirya on the Iraqi border, the official said. According to the Iraqi official, the border police found several thousand partly completed ballots inside.

Today, Adel Al-Lami the director general of the electoral commission, said he "dismissed" the reports, asserting that such news is "part of the electoral campaign." Nevertheless, an official in Diyala province said of the reports of the forged ballots, "I am sure 100 percent of the authenticity of this news."

"It is not just this truck, there were other trucks trying to cross the borders also in Shalamcha," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Interior ministry officials also confirmed the reports. One official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Iranian truck driver told the police under interrogation that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border.

The official, who did not attend the interrogation, said he did not know where the driver was headed, or what he intended to do with the ballots.


The seizure of the truck comes at a delicate time in Iran's relations with both Iraq and the United States. The American government has said Iranian agents are deeply involved in trying to influence events in Iraq, by funneling money to Shiite political parties and by arming and training many of the illegal militias that are bedeviling the country.

Agents of the Iranian government are believed to be supporting the two main Shiite political parties here - the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Dawa Party -with money and other assistance. Both parties support a strong role for Islam in the Iraqi state; however, compared with the Iranian government itself, which is a strict theocracy, the Iraqi version is relatively moderate...
***note - There's more story (mostly about Iranian weapons, so not that relevant), but I didn't want anyone to go blind

I have no idea if Dexter Filkins is any kind of reputable reporter or not. It's interesting that he adds in the stuff about Iranian weapons being smuggled across which there have been more reports of. I wonder if he does this to lend more credibility to his story? I'm not a journalism expert by any means. Just interesting now that I'm discecting it a bit. Anyway, here's the denial story from Yahoo:

Iraq border chief denies forged ballots seized
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Old 12-14-05, 08:15 PM
  #19  
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Personally, I'm excited about a tanker being found full of fraudulent election slips instead of explosives. It means finally, this country is becoming more modern.
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Old 12-14-05, 09:57 PM
  #20  
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“Anybody who doesn’t appreciate what America has done and President Bush, let them go to hell”

– Iraqi Citizen, voter Betty Dawisha
VIDEO LINK: http://thepoliticalteen.net/2005/12/13/gotohell/

I heard this on the Today show today....wait...I misspoke....I'm sorry, I heard this on Limbaugh, the evil propoganda machine that he is.
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Old 12-15-05, 02:56 AM
  #21  
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Betty has potential for a future Iraqi Presidentialship.
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Old 12-15-05, 08:42 AM
  #22  
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The turn out is so large they've had to extend voting...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051215/...NlYwMlJVRPUCUl

BAGHDAD, Iraq -
Iraq's election commission decided Thursday to extended voting by an additional hour to deal with the large turnout of people seeking to elect a new parliament.

Commission official Munthur Abdelamir said the decision was made at an emergency session of the commission "in order to allow citizens to vote because of the large turnout."
In other/similar news it seems there have been some incidents but nothing major
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051215/...NlYwMlJVRPUCUl
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Insurgents made only sporadic attacks on
Iraq's election on Thursday as voters turned out in force, joined by disaffected Sunni Arabs determined to win a bigger say in government.
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The largely peaceful poll, which will raise U.S. hopes that a stable government can eventually pave the way for American troops to pull out, was a sharp contrast to January's election for an interim assembly, when some 40 people died.

Sunni Arabs largely boycotted that poll but mobilized in large numbers on Thursday, with backing from nationalist rebels who vowed to protect voters in western and northern cities.

"Turnout is much higher than expected," Interior Minister Bayan Jabor said before 10 hours of voting was due to end at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT).

He said Baghdad police killed a suicide car bomber.

"There's more diversity in this election," Election Commissioner Farid Ayar said. "We're delighted."

Two people were killed and three wounded in bomb and mortar attacks on polling stations at Mosul and Tal Afar in the north.

A dawn mortar blast claimed by a Sunni Islamist group wounded three people, one a U.S. Marine, in Baghdad's Green Zone government and diplomatic compound, the U.S. embassy said.

General calm imposed by a three-day traffic ban, sealed borders and heavy security was also broken by mortars in Samarra and nearby Tikrit,
Saddam Hussein's home town.

An explosion rocked Ramadi, another bastion of Sunni revolt. But in a turnaround from January, people lined up to vote there for a say in the new fully empowered, four-year parliament.

"I'm delighted to be voting for the first time because this election will lead to the American occupation forces leaving," said Jamal Mahmoud, 21, his finger purple with the dye that prevents double voting and is now a symbol of Iraqi democracy.

U.S. diplomats hope that if Sunnis are drawn into the political process the revolt will be undermined, letting Iraqis gradually take over security without provoking a civil war.

SUNNI TURNOUT

In nearby Falluja, scene of the biggest battle between U.S. forces and rebels a year ago, the worst problems were a shortage of ballot papers and of vehicles to ferry infirm voters.

Eager to weaken the power exercised this year by an interim parliament of Shi'ite Islamists and Kurds, Sunni militants said they would defend polling stations in cities like Ramadi against groups, such as al Qaeda, who vowed to disrupt the vote.

Their truce, combined with tight security and 160,000 U.S. troops discreetly in the background, made for a peaceful day.

"Sunni Arabs made a big mistake in boycotting the last election; it left us out of ... writing the constitution," said Talal Ali, 25, as he voted for the first time in Kirkuk.

He backed one of the main Sunni lists which wants to amend a constitution that Sunnis say may hand Kirkuk's oil to autonomous Kurds and give Shi'ites control over the southern oilfields.

Once a coalition government is formed, which could take weeks, the first task of the new parliament, under pressure from Washington, is to address Sunni grievances over the constitution passed with Shi'ite and Kurdish votes in an October referendum.

"Ballot boxes are a victory of democracy over dictatorship," said Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari as he cast his vote: "They've chosen voting over bombs."

In Baghdad, Shi'ite Hadi Mishaal, wounded in the 1991
Gulf War and forced by the traffic ban to hobble 2 km (over a mile) on a crutch to vote with his wife, said: "I hope we can have a government that will help me and give me my rights."

U.S.
President George W. Bush hailed the expected turnout among Sunnis as a sign of the marginalization of diehard rebels.

SECTARIAN BITTERNESS

"It is the first time I have tasted the freedom to express my view," said 60-year-old Sunni Arab Asmael Nouri in Kirkuk.

For many in the 60-percent Shi'ite majority, oppressed by Saddam, the vote was another chance to seek redress.

Religious voter Kadhmiya Alwan, 55, in Najaf said: "I demand they take my revenge on the regime that killed my two sons."

But there were signs secular parties, notably that of former prime minister Iyad Allawi, were cutting in to the 48 percent vote the Islamist bloc took in January:

"We want freedom ... to drink alchohol, dance and go to nightclubs," said Allawi supporter Jasim Faisal, 34, in the southern city of Samawa.

Yet underlying a vote in which Iraqis can choose from 231 lists, is also widespread sectarian fear and mistrust.

Another Najaf voter, Abdullah Abdulzahra, 40, said he would vote for the ruling bloc "because they'll kill all Baathists."

Unemployed Baghdad shoe salesman Ismail Dulaimi, 25, said: "This time it will be different for the Sunnis. We are voting. Now we have a government that only gives jobs to Shi'ites."

Kurdish voter Hussein Garmiyani recalled repression at Saddam's hands as he smeared his own blood on the ballot paper in Kirkuk. "I signed for freedom with my blood."

Many believe Allawi could lead a broad coalition government, a development Washington could endorse after losing patience with Jaafari, whose term has seen the rise of pro-government militias and warm ties with America's enemies in Shi'ite
Iran.

"We hope to see a formation of a strong government that can ... represent the main communities and be a government of national salvation," Allawi said after casting his vote.

Some 15 million Iraqis can vote at over 6,000 poll places.

The
United Nations and Washington hope Iraq will serve as an example to other Middle East states moving toward democracy.
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Old 12-15-05, 09:02 AM
  #23  
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nemein, if you're not going to bold some key talking points, what am I supposed to think? You don't expect me to read all that do you?
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Old 12-15-05, 09:03 AM
  #24  
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This is a great day for Iraqis.
<strike>Meanwhile, in Wash DC, there has been a surge in sales of alka-seltzer to the dem leadership.</strike>

<i>Mod note: This comment wasn't really necessary was it?</i>

Last edited by nemein; 12-15-05 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 12-15-05, 09:06 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by bhk
Meanwhile, in Wash DC, there has been a surge in sales of alka-seltzer to the dem leadership.
Please!!!
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