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Some Questions On Iraqi Elections

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

Submitted by David B. Aronin (United States), Nov 30, 2004 at 17:27

First, I've seen differing views on the actual attitudes of the Kurdish parties. The NYT, like yourself, portrayed two of them as joining in the movement to have the elections delayed. The WT however gave the impression that they were ready if the election was held as scheduled, but would not object if it was delayed (please see below: a copy of part of a letter I sent to some correspondents giving details on these newspaper accounts).

Second, similar criticisms were also made concerning both the hand off of sovereignty in June, and the recent elections in Afghanistan - by politicians and commentators in the affected countries as well as in Europe and the US. However, those actions ended up occurring both as scheduled, and with a greater degree of success than had been anticipated. In addition, the fact of these accomplishments lent significant credibility to both the fledgling native regimes, and their supporters. These events could then be seen as real and significant political and psychological victories in the struggle against the insurgents in - a struggle where perceptions are paramount. On the other hand failure to carry them off as scheduled and successfully, would have undoubtedly had the opposite effect - creating the impression that the insurgents could control events by their violent actions - and so giving the initiative to them, encouraging them while discouraging those hoping and working for the establishment of free, democratic, and stable institutions.

I wonder why then similar results might not be obtained in regards to the elections scheduled for the end of January in Iraq, similar gains made if they are obtained, and similar losses result from either postponement or failure.

Details on NYT and WT articles mentioned above:

From The New York Times:


Shiite Leader Opposes Delay in Iraq's Vote

Published: November 28, 2004

On Friday, 17 political groups, most dominated by Sunni Arabs but also including two Kurdish parties, endorsed a statement calling on the Iraqi Electoral Commission to put off the Jan. 30 voting because of the violence that afflicts central and northern Iraq and because of fears of a Sunni boycott.

The groups making the protest included some that have been among the staunchest supporters of American policy in Iraq, like the political party of Dr. Allawi, the main Kurdish parties and the party of Adnan Pachachi, a Sunni elder statesman.

The Sunni Arabs and the Kurds, who each make up a fifth of the population here, fear the majority Shiites will seize unchecked power in the elections. The Sunnis ruled the region until the toppling of Saddam Hussein and are worried about being marginalized now. The Kurds are trying to guarantee that the Shiites do not emerge from the elections with such strength that they can intrude on the Kurds' efforts to keep a reasonably autonomous government in the north.


From the Washington Times:

November 28, 2004

Government will stick with January elections

By Robert H. Reid
From the World section

"Iraq's two major Kurdish political parties said they were ready to take part in national elections on Jan. 30 as planned, but would not object if "other political powers" wanted to postpone the vote.
The Web site of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said yesterday that the party issued a joint statement with the Kurdistan Democratic Party expressing their "readiness to participate at the


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