Sunday, January 30, 2005

More on the Election in Iraq

Read Omar's post at Iraq the Model. The violence was a mere footnote in one of the mst historic days in modern history, and Omars post does a good job of expressing the joy felt by the people of Iraq. This via reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Some came on crutches, others walked for miles then struggled to read the ballot, but across Iraq (news - web sites), millions turned out to vote Sunday, defying insurgents who threatened a bloodbath.

Suicide bombs and mortars killed at least 27 people, but voters still came out in force for the first multi-party poll in 50 years. In some places they cheered with joy at their first chance to cast a free vote, in others they shared chocolates.

Even in Falluja, the Sunni city west of Baghdad that was a militant stronghold until a U.S. assault in November, a steady stream of people turned out, confounding expectations. Lines of veiled women clutching their papers waited to vote.

"We want to be like other Iraqis, we don't want to always be in opposition," said Ahmed Jassim, smiling after he voted.

In Baquba, a rebellious city northeast of Baghdad, spirited crowds clapped and cheered at one voting station. In Mosul, scene of some of the worst insurgent attacks in recent months, U.S. and local officials said turnout was surprisingly high.

One of the first to vote was President Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni Muslim Arab with a large tribal following, who cast his ballot inside Baghdad's fortress-like Green Zone.

"Thanks be to God," he told reporters, emerging from the booth with his right index finger stained with bright blue ink to show he had voted. "I hope everyone will go out and vote."

In the relatively secure Kurdish north, people flowed steadily to the polls. One illiterate man in Arbil, 76-year-old Said Rasool, came alone and was turned away, unable to read the ballot paper. He said he would return with someone to help.

Even in the so-called "triangle of death," a hotbed of Sunni insurgency south of Baghdad, turnout was solid, officials said.

FESTIVE VOTING

In mainly Shi'ite Basra, Iraq's second biggest city, hundreds of voters queued patiently at polling centers. "I am not afraid," said Samir Khalil Ibrahim. "This is like a festival for all Iraqis."

A small group cheered in Baghdad as Sharif Ali bin al-Hussein, a descendant of Iraq's last king, went to the polls. Ali leads a constitutional monarchy slate in the election.

Western Baghdad polling stations were busy, with long queues of voters. Most went about the process routinely, filling in their ballots and leaving quickly without much emotion.

Others brought chocolates for those waiting in line, and shared festive juice drinks inside the voting station.

Samir Hassan, 32, who lost his leg in a car bomb blast in October, was determined to vote. "I would have crawled here if I had to. I don't want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me. Today I am voting for peace," he said, leaning on his metal crutches, determination in his reddened eyes.

In Sadr City, a poor Shi'ite neighborhood of northeast Baghdad, thick lines of voters turned out, women in black abaya robes in one line, men in another.

Some of the first to vote countrywide were policemen, out in force to protect polling centers from attack, part of draconian security measures put in place by U.S. and Iraqi officials.


In other words the election was more successful than anyone could have predicted. A 72% turnout in the face of threats of terrorists. Let us all remember when the dominos start to fall in the Middle East that it was this day that started it. Let us also remember that had it been up to the Democrats in this country this day would not have come (that can also be said about the fall of the Soviet empire). They are forever on the wrong side of history, but today is a day of celebration for the world, especially for Iraqis.

Be sure to check the current posts for updates.