The Constitution Referendum, and the Not-So-Great Ramadan Offensive
The Iraqis have voted on the referendum. Turnout is reported to be high in many areas of Iraq. Saddam's own hometown in Tikrit is estimated to have had a 78% turnout. Dr. Fareed Ayar, a member of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, estimates over 11 million particpated in the ballot, almost 70% of the registered voters. The much touted "Ramadan Offensive", designed to disrupt the election process and bring the Iraqi people to their knees has failed.
Iraqis have voted in places that were formerly parts of Zarqawi's "Islamic Republic". Turnout is not likely to be high in along some areas of the Euphrates in Anbar due to the recent operations, the uncertainty of security measures and the secrecy of the location of the polling places until the final minutes leading up to the election. But any turnout is a mcuh alters state of affairs in the regions where citizens were formerly inimidated by Zarqawi's butchers.
An Iraqi citizen raises his purple stained finger in the former "Islamic Republic of Qaim" (pictured). Iraqi soldiers now stand guard of the city of Barwana (pictured), another of Zarqawi's former strongholds where citizens were executed on the Barwana bridge for minor violations of the strict interpretations of Salafi Shariah law. A trusted source in Ramadi sends the following story of the heroism of an Iraqi poll worker after his polling site was attacked and he was wounded:
In Ramadi, a polling site received three rounds of indirect fire and five rounds of small arms fire. An Iraqi Poll Worker was injured by shrapnel and a CASEVAC was coordinated. However, it appears the Semper Fidelis attitude of the Marines has rubbed off as he refused to be evacuated and insisted on remaining at the polling site. The polling site remained operational and many Iraqi citizens displayed equal tenacity by remaining in line to vote.
Iraqi Security Forces provided the bulk of the security during election day. Motor vehicle activity was prohibited to reduce the threat of car bombings. The security was set up in three rings, with Iraqi police patrolling the inner ring: the polling places, Iraqi Army in the middle ring and U.S. and Coalition forces in the outer ring, acting as a quick reaction force if needed. The Iraqi Police and Army did the heavy lifting in providing security.
al Qaeda and their insurgent allies still tried to disrupt the election with violence. The following list of attacks is the extent of the terrorist's reach. Behold the might of al Qaeda and its fearsome Ramadan Offensive:
- Gunmen fired on two polling stations in Baghdad. No injuries.
- Office of the Iraqi Islamic Party is torched in Fallujah. No injuries.
- Office of the Iraqi Islamic Party is struck by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. No injuries.
- Office of the Iraqi Islamic Party is destroyed in an attack in Baiji. No injuries.
- Terrorists blow up the home of the local Iraqi Islamic Party chief in Ramadi. No injuries.
- Five security guards wounded in a car bombing near a mosque in Kirkuk
- Four civilians wounded in a roadside bombing targeting a U.S. patrol in Baghdad.
- Fifteen insurgents arrested as they prepared to attack polling centers in Mosul. No injuries.
- Power cut in 70% of Baghdad after power lines are sabotaged north of the city.
- Two police wounded in roadside bombing while patrolling near a polling station in Baghdad.
- Civilian killed by sniper fire near polling station in Baghdad.
- Three insurgents attacked an empty polling station South of Basra, and are captured. No Injuries.
- One policeman is wounded after a roadside bomb exploded near a polling station in western Baghdad.
- Fighting reported between a small band of insurgents and U.S. troops on patrol in Ramadi. No casualties reported.
While the halting of motor vehicle activity is likely to have had an impact on the number deadly mass casualty incidents, al Qaeda and other Islamists still had the option to use suicide vests and other methods of attack. That these tactics were not employed is curious.
Either al Qaeda did not have the resources to conduct such attacks, could not penetrate the security of the Coalition, or did not have the will to attack Iraqis exercising their democratic rights. No matter what the reason, this is a victory for the Iraqi people and another strategic defeat for al Qaeda. When given a choice between the vision of the Islamists and the ideal of freedom, Iraqis brave the jihadi's threats of violence and reject al Qaeda's hateful ideology. Every time.