Election Day Eve in Iraq

The referendum on Iraq’s constitution is just hours away. Coalition forces have labored for months to provide a manageable security environment to allow the citizens of Iraq to cast their ballots. The recent operations in Anbar have driven al Qaeda and the insurgency underground in the cities and towns along the Euphrates River.

Despite al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups’ threats, security incidents have been light on the day leading up to the election. Nine Iraqis were wounded in two separate incidents in cities of Kirkuk and Baghdad. The offices of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party were attacked by “insurgents” , no doubt in retaliation for their support of the constitution after the concessions made by the Iraqi government. Coalition forces arrested fifteen suspected insurgents in the northern city of Mosul. Iraqi soldiers arrested ten terrorists, including a cell leader in of Al-Latifiyah, and nine terrorists in Al-Haswah.

A poll taken by the Iraqi newspaper Azzaman predicts that up to ninety percent of those polled will turn out to vote. Two-thirds of those polled support the constitution. The poll was taken prior to the compromise. Baghdad has a large Sunni population, and al Qaeda will have plenty of beheadings to conduct to make up for the Sunni’s participation in the blasphemous democratic elections.

al Qaeda and the insurgency talked tough and struck hard in the months leading up to the January 30th election for the transitional assembly, but in the end they were unable to derail the will of the Iraqi people. Their impotence was exposed for all the world to see. The voters, in defiance to the butcher’s threats, showed up to vote and displayed their purple fingers. They will do so again in several hours, in the hope that their vote will move their country forward. Al Qaeda will wonder why the Ummah yet again abandoned them in their time of need.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • vucommodore says:

    My prediction:
    Constitution passes
    Only province to defeat it is Al Anbar with over 80% opposed
    Majorities opposed in Salaheddin and Diyala but not quite 2/3
    Baghdad splits 50/50
    Southern Iraq votes 90% for the constitution

  • exhelodrvr says:

    One thing the MSM always fails to comment on; even if the constitution fails the referendum, and they have to go back to the drawing board, just the act of voting on it is absolutely HUGE! That doesn’t get nearly enough press.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Iraq: Change of Strategy by Baathist Armed Groups
    The armed pro-Baathist groups have modified their voting strategy for Saturday’s referendum after the largest Sunni Arab political grouping – the Iraqi Islamic Party – asked the population to approve the constitution.
    The pro-Baathist groups involved in the insurgency – like the Islamic Army in Iraq and the smaller Mujahadeen Army and 1920s Brigades – are now calling for a boycott of the elections and have condemned the Islamic Islamic Party’s decision to back the constitution. Before the Sunni formation asked the population to back the constitution draft, the armed Baathist groups were calling for a “no” vote, in contrast with al-Qaeda’s indications..
    “The Islamic party has announced its backing for the draft constitution, allowing the Americans to falsify the Sunni vote,” denounces a statement posted on an Internet forum. The internet statement also urged Mujahadeen to continue the Jihad – the holy war – against the occupation forces. On Thursday another terrorist formation – “The Winning Side” – criticised the Sunni party’s decision, announcing it will kill the party leaders.
    Now this is what I would refer to as shooting oneself in the foot.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Sunni insurgents launched five attacks on the largest Sunni Arab political party, all on the eve of Iraq’s vote on whether to approve a new constitution.
    Insurgents bombed and burned the party’s offices and the home of one of its leaders in retaliation after the group dropped its opposition to the draft constitution.
    As I said before we need to offer some kind of protection to these people. Police units or anything that might help. Its going to get alot worse for them.

  • desert rat says:

    Agree entirely that the Sunni politicians should be protected. That is why we have 156,000 troops deployed to Iraq. That is why we have spent Billions of dollars and 2.5 years training 200,000+/- Iraqi troops.
    If we cannot protect our new found Iraqi allies our Forces are immensely inept. Heads should roll in our Chain of Command, both in theater and in Washington.

  • cjr says:

    What percentage of the Sunni population does the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party represent?

  • vucommodore says:

    cjr: On TV, they were saying perhaps 6-10%. It might be more than that but not 40% or 50% or any magnitude like that.

  • Rob says:

    This election is one of the payoffs for 2+ years of slogging though IEDs and building soccer fields. The military, civilians and the Iraqis themselves have accomplished a lot. All of them have been under deadly terrorist threat the whole way. This has taken brave men. We should all be grateful. When we look for a list of our friends and heros, this is a good place to start.

  • Jimbo says:

    Justin there is a report out this afternoon that electricity to Baghdad has been cut….heard anything about it?

  • liberalhawk says:

    wrt to the 6-105
    it should be recalled that some Sunnis supported guys like Yawer who were closer to us than the IIP, and who ALSO participated in the negotiations, and are now supporting a Yes vote. IIP is important cause they were a group that had supported the boycott in January.

  • ricksamerican says:

    On TV!?

  • Mark Buehner says:

    Power is always spotty in Baghdad, 8 hours a day in many places last i heard.

  • desert rat says:

    On FOX they report that Insurgents have cut the power to Baghdad. This after initial Iraqi reports that it was not Insugent activity. They seem to have updated the report, since the initial reporting.
    They reported the cause of the disruption was not detailed by the Iraqis.

  • Jamison1 says:

    As I said before we need to offer some kind of protection to these people. Police units or anything that might help. Its going to get alot worse for them.

    No, the Sunnis need to protect them. Either the Iraqis are going to take back their country, or they are not.

  • desert rat says:

    Who do you think makes up the Iraqi Police?
    It certainly isn’t Frenchmen or Germans. No Americans are Iraqi Policemen. It is an all Iraqi Force. Some may be Kurds, some Shia perhaps, some Sunni. But Iraqis are Iraqis, we should discourage ethnic indentity politics there, as much as we should here.
    We are trying to help develop a UNIFIED Iraq not a Balkenized one.

  • hamidreza says:

    Now that a good part of the Sunnis (30 – 60%) have officialy backed the constitutional process, I think new Iraqi Army divisions should be created that incorportates these Sunnis in larger proportions as foot soldiers and commanding officers.
    There appears to be a reluctance on the part of the Iraqi government and possibly the MNF to ship the standard Shiite and Kurd composed IA battallions to the heart of Anbar. It is probably true that many soldiers in a standard IA battalion are not up to snuff to meet the average Sunni deadender and Islamist on his home turf. Dispatching such troops to Anbar and Salaheddin may even be counter productive and result in a heightened rebellion.
    But it is probably more true that religious and political allegiances precludes dispatching Shiite and Kurd army units to the core of the Sunni insurgency in large numbers. The Kurds ever conscious of their minority and territorial status, wish not to stir ethnic hatreds. The Shiites beholden to pro-Iranian Imams and militia, also feel that the Sunni insurgency can be isolated to the west and north. The interest of these elements is mainly southern Iraq and they count on the protection of Iranians from the Sunnis. The national Iraqi state is of secondary concern to them.
    The amount of oil in the south should not be underestimated. It amounts to $ 6 million per average southern Iraqi family of 8 persons at today’s prices. Southern Iraq is more of the nature of an undeveloped freeloading Gulf Sheikhdom such as Kuwait, than it is of an Arab country like Syria or Jordan. The radicals there and the Iranians sense this. The Iranians also know that ever since the liberation of Iraq, Iran has stopped being the center of the Shiite dominion, which is now Najaf and Karbala. There is little incentive by these Shiite militias to fight for a unified Iraq and to coexist with the Sunnis.
    A sunni composed IA force will be more effective in the Sunni restive regions – in particular it would be effective against al-Qaeda and allied Sunni Islamist insurgents. But it could further exacerbate the problems of a divided Iraq and the encroachment of Iranian influence.
    The US has been successful in convincing a large part of the Sunnis to join the constitutional process. It must then use these people to quell the insurgency and somehow channel their anti-occupation energies towards a united Iraq and towards anti-Iranian nationalism, in order to balance the forces. It will not be easy to channel this within the constitutional process.
    I think the construction of Sunni-weighted L2 IA battalions is a must in order to defeat the Sunni Islamists and their sympathetic deadenders and criminals, who are spoiling the Sunni barrel. Shiite-Kurdish troops will not be able to do the task IMO. How this will bear on the question of Iraqi national unity, is anyone’s guess. Would we one day see two Iraqi divisions with split loyalties fighting one another? Of course nobody wants this to happen, but it may be the only way to put the competing interests on notice that a US-backed central constitutional government is the only option open to all interests. But this will best happen after security is generally in place.
    It’s no surprise why al-Qaeda and Sadr with Iranian backing are fighting tooth and nail just to instill fear and insecurity through random and senseless acts of violence.

  • desert rat says:

    Maj Gen Bob Scales US Army (ret) was just on FOX News. He just returned from Iraq. He was speaking of an IA Division commanded by a 30 year veteran of the IA. He said the 75% of the unit was made up of veterans of his old units. General Scales says this force was actively engaged with the enemy. While he did not discuss the religious background of the General and his troops, but Iraq’s Generals were Sunni during Saddam’s day.
    It seems that we have already implemented your reccomendations. Praise be to Allah.

  • NYMark says:

    A Sunni friend (actually, mom Shiia, dad Sunni) living in Baghdad told me last night that, if he dares to vote, it will be “no”.
    Apparently there are many Sunni and Shiia as well with the same opinion – they’re not opposing the constitutional process, but they’re opposed to the current constitution as being too Islamic.
    He said that many of these potential “no” votes want a constitution that is much more like the U.S. in regard to civil and human rights.
    If I understand correctly, some of the Sunni parties are agreeing to vote on this on condition that the current constitution be considered temporary, and that there would be considerable revision in the next few months.

  • desert rat says:

    If the Constitution is voted up or down is really not all that important. What is important is that as many Iraqis as possible participate in the process. Voting “NO” is a completely acceptable position to take, I would not want to live under the proposed Iraqi Constitution, either.

  • Justin Capone says:

    It still pisses me off how many US and Iraqi lives could have been saved if Chalabi hadn’t been able to convince Wolfawitz to disband the Iraqi Army.

  • hamidreza says:

    Justin, its a real mystery why secular Chalabi decided to throw his lot with the Shiite Islamists, given his pro-west background and leaning (he is MIT class of 1970, math.) and his long standing relationship to the Pentagon.
    He is responsible for the early US policy of backing the Shia parties and giving an unfortunate and regrettable anti-Sunni tinge to American efforts in Iraq, which was then exploited by al-Qaeda. The anti-Baathist policy of the IGC, spearheaded by Chalabi, was designed to remove Sunni influence and competition in the burgeoning IA.
    Now that the UIA is disbanding and Sistani has called for the Shiite Marja not to be identified with politics, I wonder what Chalabi plans to do. I hope he enters his own slate, so that his popular strength can be guaged independently, and that may force him to put his secular hat back on again. He seems to be in no hurry to vie for the leadership of secular Shiites. He seems to be alienating everyone except for the Iranians.
    Kenneth – my apologies for the hanging thread over at Chester. It shall be forthcoming soon. Please check.

  • Silent Monk says:

    Disbanding the Baathist Sunni Fascist Army was the most intelligent thing ever done in Iraq. Starting over from scratch was vital. Old fascist army elements sabotage Iraq as part of the insurgency. You must want them to be able to sabotage Iraq as part of the army. Is that right?

  • desert rat says:

    Polls close in Ieaq in 30 minutes. 78% of voters in Tikrit voted (FOX News). No violence reported.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “In Baghdad, Dr. Fareed Ayar, an Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) member said, “….Eleven million voters participated in the polling process. ”

  • Justin Capone says:

    Justin, its a real mystery why secular Chalabi decided to throw his lot with the Shiite Islamists, given his pro-west background and leaning (he is MIT class of 1970, math.) and his long standing relationship to the Pentagon.
    He is responsible for the early US policy of backing the Shia parties and giving an unfortunate and regrettable anti-Sunni tinge to American efforts in Iraq, which was then exploited by al-Qaeda. The anti-Baathist policy of the IGC, spearheaded by Chalabi, was designed to remove Sunni influence and competition in the burgeoning IA.
    Its actually not a mystery to me. I have always seen Chalabi as a slime who wants power and money anyway he can possibly get it.
    There are more Shia in Iraq then Sunnis so he sold himself as the defenders of the reigious Shia predict Sistani would be able to tell the masses who to vote for which he did. I also believe he has been getting money from Iran at the same time.
    When I first saw Chalabi speak I knew the guy was a slime. At the same time when I saw Allawi speak I knew this guy was smart, tough, and meant every word he said. If we backed him earlier Iraq would be a very different place today.

  • ghoullio says:

    why must we back somone in order for them to ascend the ladder of Iraqi politics? if he is as good as everyone says he is, he will find a way…

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    US backing of an Iraqi candidate is the surest way to guarentee the candidate will lose. In event the candidate wins, then the “Puppet” government stigma will never go away.
    A big part of the Iraq project is to debunk the “American/Zionist” conspiracy crap.


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