Friday, February 13, 2009

Iraqi Elections

Charles Krauthammer wrote in Washington hardly noticed a near-miracle abroad.
That is because it was good news from Iraq.
Iraq held provincial elections. There was no Election Day violence. Security was handled by Iraqi forces with little U.S. involvement. A fabulous bazaar of 14,400 candidates representing 400 parties participated, yielding results highly favorable to both Iraq and the United States. Iraq moved away from religious sectarianism toward more secular nationalism. "All the parties that had the words 'Islamic' or 'Arab' in their names lost," noted Middle East expert Amir Taheri. "By contrast, all those that had the words 'Iraq' or 'Iraqi' gained."
And Iraq gained, and Iran lost influence in Iraqi affairs.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki went from leader of a small Islamic party to leader of the "State of Law Party," campaigning on security and secular nationalism. He won a smashing victory. His chief rival, a more sectarian and pro-Iranian Shiite religious party, was devastated. Another major Islamic party, the pro-Iranian Sadr faction, went from 11 percent of the vote to 3 percent, losing badly in its stronghold of Baghdad. The Islamic Fadhila party that had dominated Basra was almost wiped out. The once-dominant Sunni party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the erstwhile insurgency was badly set back. New grass-roots tribal ("Awakening") and secular Sunni leaders emerged. All this barely pierced the consciousness of official Washington. After all, it fundamentally contradicts the general establishment/media narrative of Iraq as "fiasco."

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