Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Unrest continues over Iraqi election

Widespread protests by Sunni factions continue as the Iraqi Supreme Court disqualified 90 delegates who were elected to parliament on December 15, most of them Sunni Muslims, because they were once members of the Baath Party.

The Iraqi parliament has 275 deputies, and the disqualification of 30% of the elected members – most of them Sunnis and secular – can be expected to further disenchant the Sunnis with the democratic election process.The insurgents will use this to convince the Sunnis that whatever they do, and no matter how they participate in the elections and the democratic process, they will never have any influence in the new Shite-Kurdish regime in Baghdad. And that the only avenue left to them is guerilla war against the regime and the Americans.

There are increasing suspicions that the vote was rigged witht the help of Iran to boost the Shiite religious vote. The Sunnis can count; they are 20% of the population compared to 18% or so for the Kurds, but the Kurds did far better in the election and none of their delegates were disqualified.

Former prime minister Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqi List and a key American ally, alleged that convoys of trucks carrying sealed ballot boxes stuffed with forged voting slips and other documents went round polling stations on election-day and packed the ballot boxes with pro-Shiite votes. Between 10 and 15 of those trucks were intercepted by Iraqi security forces at the southern Iraqi towns of Qut, Al Amara and Basra. And a preliminary investigation disclosed that they trucks were organized by Iranian intelligence agents to falsely boost the Shiite majority.

What it appears has transpired is indeed a deal between the Kurds and Shiites to swap Baghdad for Kirkuk and define their relative spheres of influence...while the main Iraqi regime will be a kind of Shiite “sectarian democracy” prevailing for the next few years. And one that owes America's enemy Iran big time.

I put the odds on Iraq remaining a single country at no more than 50%. And the possibility remains that the Bush Administration may have won the war but lost the peace.

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