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Delaying Elections will Lead to Disaster

Reader comment on item: U.S. Needs To Learn Patience [in Iraq]

Submitted by Jeffrey Bale (United States), Nov 30, 2004 at 18:36

I could not disagree more with your view that delaying the elections in Iraq might be a wise idea. After all, Iraq is not Afghanistan. The only reason that the Shi'a have so far been patient and relatively quiescent (Muqtada al-Sadr excluded) is that they are awaiting forthcoming elections which, unless these are gerrymandered, will lead to their own certain electoral victory. To postpone those elections until the "security situation improves," which is likely to be never as long as the majority of Iraqis perceive us as occupiers who want to control their resources - a perception that will only be reinforced if we postpone elections or try to install a puppet - is to continue to follow the same disastrous course that we have been following ever since the fall of Saddam.

The only solution is to hold elections as scheduled - with or without the participation of the Sunni, who if they had any sense would participate and acquire proportional representation rather than no representation at all - let the Shi`a win (instead of rigging it so that someone with no popular base like Allawi wins), turn over sovreignty to the Iraqis, help the new Shi'a govt (if they request it) to deal with the Sunni insurgents (which that govt will surely be motivated to do in any case), and draw down our forces in-country. Any attempt to delay the elections to the disadvantage of the Shi'a majority or prop up a perceived US satrap will inevitably strengthen Shi'a radicals at the expense of relative "moderates" and lead to a Shi'a uprising that will make our position totally untenable. Overseeing a Shi`a electoral victory, though not without risks, is far more likely to head off an Iranian-style theocracy than trying to prevent their electoral victory, especially in a vain attempt to appease the Sunnis who have been causing us so much trouble.
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