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.

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


  • Failure of the Ramadan Offensive

    The polls have now closed, and the new constitution is expected to be approved, a significant achievement in itself in moving toward a saner Iraqi politics based on consensus. Bill Roggio, as usual, gets to the core of issues involving…

  • SpaceMonkey says:

    Maybe the explosive vests clashed with their festive Ramadan outfits.

  • Jimbo says:

    Zarqawi is finished.


    Voting In IraqIt’s the news story of the day, if not of the year. We use

  • GM Roper says:

    #2 “Zarqawi is finished.”
    Probably not in the short run, as even a rabid dog cornered, wounded and in his death throes may be dangerous, even Zarqawi is dangerous. But, I’ll take the rabid dog any day, in fact, the rabid dog may be the superior being. No, make that IS the superior being.

  • desert rat says:

    The Z is still what he’s always been, a Jordanian Border Bandit with a large ego. He is and was an aQ agent working and training with Saddam’s forces, both prior to and post invasion.
    The only path to US victory has been through the masses of the Iraqi people, not over them.
    As more and more Iraqis participate in the electoral process, both yesterday and in December we will have achieved the Goals outline in the Authorization for Use of Force, in Iraq.
    Victory on the Iraqi Front is at hand. Good thing we are not in a war against the Mohammedan Religion, if we were, all our allies would be our foes. Praise be to allah.

  • TallDave says:

    Fox News reported there were in fact two female suicide bombers, one from SA and the other from Jordan, but they were stopped by the Iraqi police.

  • postroad says:

    two things I note:
    1. The turnout seems bigger than what we get in our democracy in the USA
    2. the “Ramadam offensive” was announced by us, not by any terror groups.

  • Justin Capone says:

    By early estimates, Sunni Arab voters in Ramadi, the provincial capital of the vast rebel heartland stretching west from Baghdad to the Jordanian and Syrian borders, appeared to have stayed away from the vote on a new constitution almost completely. It was not immediately clear whether they had chosen to boycott or they had simply felt too afraid to brave the streets, where mortar attacks, rocket fire and brief gun battles occasionally tore through the silence of the Saturday afternoon.
    Ramadi is a big city we have needed to deal with for some time. I don’t know if another Tal Afar is what is needed or just more troops and police need to be sent into the city.

  • Jamison1 says:

    “A Battle Won”
    Through the heat of the day their hope burns bright
    After long years of death, despair and darkness
    Hope is kindling
    As with any birth, there is blood and pain and suffering
    Doubts and fears wage war with hopes and dream
    Councils of cowardice vanquished by the courage of the free
    And the Liberty’s champions around the world, smile secret delight, as their newest comrades takes their first tentative steps,
    while Uncle Sam’s brave children add the name “Iraq” to their forefathers proud battle flags

  • Dean's World says:

    Let Freedom Reign

  • Jamison1 says:

    US captures Al Qaeda disguise expert in Iraq.

  • Justin B says:

    “Your Streets Will Run Red With Blood”… I mean sure they like to be dramatic, but if they described the terror and chaos that they would create during the election and it sounded less violent and dangerous than the aftermath of the Lakers or Pistons winning a basketball title or for that matter–a Pistons vs. Pacers regular season game, who would shake with fear?

    I heard that terrorists were seen slashing the tires of vans set to pick up folks to vote in the election and other terrorists were seen shooting into the rival party’s headquarters… damn it, my bad, that was last November. Wrong election and wrong terrorists.

  • Iraqis Vote Again

    Omar reports that as of 2:45 local time, things are going smoothly in the Iraq constitutional vote; The turnout in our district looks quiet good and actually going to the voting office was a good opportunity to meet some friends…


    Large turnout for Iraq constitution vote Only minor violence reported; ballot counting begins Regardless of the outcome, this is yet another historic step on the path to democracy, freedom, and, hopefully, peace. Don’t get me wrong. It will be a…

  • The Ramadan Offensive

    The mighty election day offensive of the vaunted terrorist ‘insurgency’ has ended, with 13 incidents. Contrast that with 347 attacks in January. The Iraqi government has stood up over 200,000 troops, in contrast to 120,000 in January. They are also…

  • Enigma says:

    That’s 2 elections and counting: Iraqi people 2 al Qaeda 0

  • dadmanly says:

    Great coverage, great news. I have been very positive, but today’s events (and non-events) have still been a pleasant surprise.
    The Iraqi people continue to exceed the expectations of those who would condemn them to servitude and misery, if only by expecting nothing more for them.

  • Jamison1 says:

    Have a safe trip home!

  • Tom W. says:

    #6 postroad – “the ‘Ramadan Offensive’ was announced by us, not by any terror groups.
    ( – Al Qaeda’s plans for a series of spectacular terrorist strikes in October, targeting American interests as well as U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East and said to be coordinated by Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant in Iraq – Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — are the subject of a non-public report issued by terrorism experts this week.
    The attacks, planned to coincide with the Muslim observance of Ramadan and dubbed the “Great Ramadan Offensive,” are designed to create a “fateful confrontation” with the U.S. and Israeli forces in the Middle East, according to a May 30 letter from Zarqawi to bin Laden. The contents of the letter are referenced in the report written by Yossef Bodansky, the former director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

  • Sortapundit says:

    Talk to the Finger

    So, don’t you think the failure of the Iraqi Constitution elections today were an abject failure; an admission that the US position is Iraq is untenable? Well, no. I’m a 70 year old woman and I voted. Imagine what would have happened if I’d tried to d…

  • Ike says:
    Al Qaeda bigshots caught. One was in charge of disguises for Zarqawi and others.

  • vucommodore says:

    Sorry to have to be realistic. Although this vote is a step in the right direction, it has the potential to cause a lot of problems.
    Anbar and Salahuddin are voting “No” in large numbers. Mosul is going to be close. 250 polling stations did not open in Sunni areas of Northern and Western Iraq and some of those were in the city of Mosul. If the Sunnis barely lose Mosul, the ones that couldn’t vote because the stations were closed may feel disenfranchised. This may also be the case in Tal Afar.
    If it is rejected, we are back to square one with no government and a raging insurgency. If it is accepted, some may feel that it has been rammed down their throats. I’m cautiously optimistic but still realistic about the situation at least in the near term.

  • desert rat says:

    As long as the IA keeps moving forward, Iraq will become secure. If Gen Scales report is accurate and 30 year IA veterans are operating against the Insurgents, well Victory or at least stability is in the air.
    While there may be Iraqis that feel cheated or left out of the process, they will be no different than many “Blue” state Democrats in 2000. If the IA is becoming a multi-ethnic, broad based Force the Sunni Insurgents will scale back, or they will be killing their cousins. aQ has no compulsions about that, but the normal, anti-occupation Insurgent will. As we announce our Phased withdrawal in ’06, those combatants will have an ever decreasing cause to fight for. His cousins finding a political way to Iraqi independence and US departure.

  • Jamison1 says:

    What is the percentage voting in Salahuddin?
    Anbar ?

  • Jamison1 says:

    Just found out. Salahiddin is reporting a high voter turnout.

  • GM's Corner says:

    The Vote, The Voters, The Constitution and Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda

    In darkness now, Baghdad and all of Iraq prepares for the night after a long day, a day in which the vast majority of those elegible to vote on an Iraqi constitution did just that. They braved threats and intimidation from Zarqawi and his band of thugs…

  • The Colossus says:

    One Dead In Iraq Voting?

    I’m reading Bill Roggio, and I come across the count of attacks at the Iraqi polling places, which are remarkable for their absence, and, when they did occur, for their lack of success. Here’s his count so far: – Gunmen fired on two polling stations in…

  • Goat says:

    Keep up the great work. You are one of my most referrenced sites.

  • Isn’t this intriguing…

    Read these two excerpts: First this: A crowd protesting…Saturday turned violent, throwing baseball-sized rocks at police, vandalizing vehicles and stores,…

  • leaddog2 says:

    Anbar and Salahuddin are voting “No” in large numbers.
    {deleted for offensive language}

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Read the comments, policy, leaddog2. You’re close to being banned.
    Cut the foul language out. You are disrespecting me and this site. I will start banning you and consider shutting down the comments section. If you can’t make an intelligent argument without swearing then you don’t belong here.

  • AMac says:

    Re #23,
    Comments section at 4th Rail is often a good resource. Intelligent arguments and relevant observations and links are the only things that belong here. Here’s hoping that we can remember to abide by the very reasonable comments policy. No tears for those who can’t or won’t, and get banned as a result–it will be their own danged fault.

  • vucommodore says:

    What exactly did you say?
    Most people that have voted in Anbar and Salahuddin seem to be voting “No”.
    People interviewed outside and votes that have been counted so far show this.

  • Jamison1 says:

    Anbar and Salahuddin are voting “No” in large numbers.

    Any references? Is this just inside the cities? Salahuddin has a sizable Shiite population as well.

  • vucommodore says:

    Salahuddin is 80% Sunni, enough to defeat it
    According to Al Jazeera (maybe right, maybe wrong), the Iraqi election commissioner says that Najaf has voted 98% for the constitution, Yathrib in Salahuddin province 99.9% against and somewhere in Diyala province over 80% against. I’ve also read (I think Reuters had it earlier) that votes counted in Tikrit so far are 96% “No”.

  • serurier says:

    Tikrit isn’t a province .

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Turnout in the last elections was Salahadin was 29%. It is not a monolithic province.
    “More broadly, he said, the “No” vote in Salahadin, excluding the restive and predominantly Sunni city of Samarra, was 65 percent, just short of the veto level of 66.66 percent.”

  • Justin B says:

    So what does happen if they reject the Constitution? Chaos and disorder? Hardly. I know the left and the MSM will spin it as a huge defeat, but in fact, elections are unpredictable in Democratic countries. Even “exit polls” can’t predict them sometimes.

    Folks like Castro, Saddam, and that hybrid Al Davis/Elvis freak in North Korea always win 99% of the vote, but even if this version does not pass, it indicates that the Iraqi people are in control of their own democratic process and are not rushing to pass a Constitution to please their “occupiers”.

  • hamidreza says:

    It would be better for the constitutional process if the Constitution would get defeated, than if it wins by an hair.
    If the constitution is defeated, it would attract a lot of Sunnis into constitutional politics, I am sure, and take them off the streets. It would probably mean that the Sunni Baathists have decided to join the process, and possibly put down their guns, at least for a while. It may result in reduction in IEDs.
    A constitutional defeat would be a boon for secular politics, as the Baathists are generally secular. Only when they go underground they seem to favor Islamist methodology.
    A defeat of the Constitution may bring more uncertainty for a while, but it could bring more security at the same time. Especially that the December 15 vote would require Sunnis in large numbers, including those in Ramadi and Haditha, to participate and try to win seats away from the Shiites and Kurds. That would mean those Sunnis who wish to participate in the December elections will have to stand up to Zarqawi who wants to deny the election.
    If Anbar and Salaheddin are 66% no, then all eyes will be on Ninewa, Mosul, and Talafar.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    In the 260 out of 300 polling places in Ninewa, the Vote was Yes by a 3-1 margin.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Initial results from Diyala – 70% Yes

  • desert rat says:

    If Elections were decided by exit polling, Mr Kerry would be President of US.
    The next Election is in December, regardless of the outcome of this one. If overall participation is high, then this Election will have been a success.
    The US supports the process, not a predetermined outcome. If we had wanted to guarentee an outcome, we’d have installed a “Strongman”, years ago.

  • exhelodrvr says:

    Having two provinces vote no and a third come close is hardly “winning by a hair.” The current version is fair to the Sunnis; they are hoping for something that will give them special privileges.

  • desert rat says:

    Losing by a hair, or losing by a landslide, it is still losing. Ask Mr Gore. His case is the perfect example of a Federalist System. He “won” the Vote, but lost the Election. In Iraq, win or lose, the process will continue. That assures US Victory just as the IA assures Iraqis of long term stability.

  • Jamison1 says:

    The solution for the Sunnis if they loose this round, is to elect a bunch of representatives who will fight for amendments that they, the secular Shiites and Kurds want. That is very doable.

  • Jamison1 says:

    “Salahuddin is 80% Sunni, enough to defeat it”
    IF everyone votes.

  • desert rat says:

    In a Bloc, which is doubtful.
    The Catholic vote in the US is not momolithic, neither are the Baptists nor Jews. They may trend one way or another but even amongst American Blacks the Bloc mentality is beginning to split.
    Iraq is more Tribal the Religious, with at least one Sunni tribe in Anbar supporting the National Government, with force of arms, in the past 90 days.
    The “leaders” of these religious and ethnic groups, in Iraq, were never elected. They do not speak for “their” people, really. That is why they have elections, to find the “will” as it really is, not as it is projected, by posers, to be.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Five US soldiers killed by Iraq bomb
    Five United States soldiers were killed in Iraq when their vehicle was hit by an improvised bomb in the western city of Ramadi, the US military said.
    In the past year I have concluded Ramadi is by far one of our biggest problems. The only large Sunni city where voters didn’t come out and where we keep being wacked. The sooner we can have a Tal Afar type operation with 20 thousand US and Iraqi troops the better.

  • leaddog2 says:

    An Overwhelming 70% YES vote in 2 Sunni provinces is NOT “winning by a hair”. (Those results are NOT final, of course).
    However, it should be clearly evident that the so-called “Sunni Leaders” are NO MORE Leaders than Jackson, Sharpton or the “what’s his name fellow” from the Nation of Islam are leaders of American blacks. None of them have EVER won elections for anything.

  • Jamison1 says:

    I just told my wife the same thing about Ramadi. Maybe we are waiting for more IA troops to be trained, but is sure is frustrating sitting at home and watching this.

  • vucommodore says:

    It seems that at least a good percentage of Sunnis have voted for the constitution. I’m not stipulating fraud but the reported results in Ninewa seem a little confusing. 70% YES would have to be practically every Sunni and Kurd because the Turkmen and Christians were virulently opposed. It seems unlikely that every single Sunni in Mosul voted “YES” when most of the Sunnis elsewhere were voting “No”. 50% of the Sunnis voting “Yes” and all of the Kurds voting “Yes” still would not reach 70%.

  • Jamison1 says:

    Your not giving us enough evidence to support your hypothesis.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    If you read the recent congressional report on Iraq, you would know that the per capita attack density in Iraq is at or below 4 attacks per day per million population in every province except 2. Salahadin and Ninewa(which are both above an attack above 16 attacks per million population)
    The “domestic” insurgency has to do with people who used to have powerful positions that no longer have powerful positions(who happened to be Sunni). Saddam rewarded his friends with nice homes along the Tigris or Euphrates River.
    Look at a map…everywhere that the majority of people live within eyesight of a “River Front” homeowner, the people will vote “no”.
    Mosul might be primarily Sunni, but it is too big a city for the “River Front” homes folk to intimidate by their very presence. The population has “safety” in numbers.

  • desert rat says:

    The Iraqi Defense Minister promised the people of Ramadi that help was on he way. Rest assured, it will be. Most likely before the December Elections.
    As to people ALWAYS voting their Religion, if that were the case NO Catholic could support legal abortion. That obviously is not the case in real life. Neither are monolithic religious voting blocs in Iraq.
    The Iraqis are real people, not caricatures of the stereotypes propagated by the MSM.

  • vucommodore says:

    Soldier’s Dad:
    Yes, that is true. Also, many Sunnis in Mosul may not have voted as much for the constitution as they voted against what they saw as mayhem and lack of progress if it were to be defeated. Many may have felt that, even though it wasn’t perfect for them, it wasn’t bad enough to send the political process back a year and leave the country in a political vacuum.
    There are many modern, secular Sunnis in Mosul. There’s not much in this constitution that seems like secular Sunnis would like except for the fact that they don’t like terrorism and they thought that accepting the constitution was a message of rejection to terrorists. Basically, I’m suggesting they may have voted for what they thought was the lesser of two evils. We don’t know the tally yet but if the rumors are correct, this may be the case.

  • Jamison1 says:

    The way the concessions were made this week. It will be pretty easy for the Sunnis to get amendments approved.

  • leaddog2 says:

    I do not know about “EASY” for amendments, but I do expect some on the order of our first 10, our Bill of Rights. Remember, those HAD to BE ACCEPTED before the Federalist party would approve our own Constitution. We are over 200 years and counting! Iraq is learning also. Their greatest danger is NOT the Terrorists, but the leftist news media and the negative anti-freedom slant the media is displaying about this election, as usual! Just listen to CNN and the BBC. It is uniformly horrible.

  • T. Longren says:

    Iraqis Have Voted – Well Done!

    Iraqis voted on their Constitution yesterday. The voting appeared to go fairly well with not much happening to distract people from participating. It’s estimated that 15.5 million Iraqis headed to the polls to cast their simple “yes&#822…

  • don says:

    MSM today’s spin was “if it passes, it is bad, and if it falls, it is bad”. Nothing good about it, therefore there can be no victory for Bush, either way. The press is a cancer on this country.

  • Thoughts on the constitution referendum

    The referendum on the Iraqi constitution is over and, by all accounts, went rather swimmingly under circumstances. My colleague Bill Roggio takes a pretty good look at the situation and concludes that the end-result is net victory over al-Qaeda in…

  • Thoughts on the constitution referendum

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  • Put Down the Gun, Pick Up the Ballot

    COLONEL AUSTIN BAY provides the definitive analysis of Saturday’s constitutional referendum in Iraq, including the following observation from his Iraqi correspondent: Major players are coming more and more to realize that dialog, alliances, common inte…

  • “A Bullet Into the Heart of Terrorism”

    I’ve been watching some of the media coverage of the Iraqi referendum vote. If you simply follow the reports, you’d almost think that the process of Iraqis voting was near tantamount to civil war. There are a three points I

  • liberalhawk says:

    IIRC, Jesse Jackson won election as “Shadow senator” from Washington DC. He also at least a few Presidential primaries, I believe. And his son won election to Congress from Chicago.


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