AS THE NON EXISTENT WMD
I have been in Amman, Jordan recently and have spoken to someone who monitored the elections from here (I cannot reveal their identity) who said there was widespread fraud including people voting twice, people under 18 voting and intimidation.
Here are a couple of articles from TRUTHOUT and despite the serious situation a somewhat humorous one from Indymedia:
Also see below:
Iraq's Election Result: A Divided Nation •
Sunni Arabs Call Baghdad Election Results Fraudulent •
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Coercion Marred Iraq Elections: Experts
United Press International
Tuesday 20 December 2005
Washington - Iraq's elections were marked by widespread intimidation and coercion by paramilitary groups, experts said Tuesday.
"This election appears to have suffered from very many problems. The reports have become overwhelming," Leslie Campbell, regional director of Middle East and North African programs at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, told a meeting at the Center for American Progress, a think tank headed by John Podesta, President Bill Clinton's former chief of staff.
Campbell said that during the first parliamentary elections under the new Iraqi constitution last Thursday, election monitors had documented "widespread intimidation by security forces affiliated with one group or another.
"Especially in the south (of Iraq), there have been many reports of coercion to vote for the 5-5-5 Shiite coalition parties," he said. "In the north, there is no doubt that Kurdish security forces exerted intense pressure."
The unexpected high results for the Shiite parties in Baghdad province had angered Sunni political parties and led them and former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and his supporters to suspect foul play, Campbell said.
"This climate of intense pressure by armed groups is an undeniable fact in these elections," Rand al-Rahim, executive director of the Iraq Foundation and former Iraqi representative to the United States, told the CAP meeting.
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Iraq's Election Result: A Divided Nation
By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent UK
Wednesday 21 December 2005
Iraq is disintegrating. The first results from the parliamentary election last week show the country is dividing between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions.
Religious fundamentalists now have the upper hand. The secular and nationalist candidate backed by the US and Britain was humiliatingly defeated.
The Shia religious coalition has won a total victory in Baghdad and the south of Iraq. The Sunni Arab parties who openly or covertly support armed resistance to the US are likely to win large majorities in Sunni provinces. The Kurds have already achieved quasi-independence and their voting reflected that.
The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq.
Islamic fundamentalist movements are ever more powerful in both the Sunni and Shia communities. Ghassan Attiyah, an Iraqi commentator, said: "In two and a half years Bush has succeeded in creating two new Talibans in Iraq."
The success of the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of Shia religious parties, has been far greater than expected according to preliminary results. It won 58 per cent of the vote in Baghdad, while Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister strongly supported by Tony Blair, got only 14 per cent of the vote. In Basra, Iraq's second city, 77 per cent of voters supported the Alliance and only 11 per cent Mr. Allawi.
The election was portrayed by President George Bush as a sign of success for US policies in Iraq but, in fact, means the triumph of America's enemies inside and outside the country.
Iran will be pleased that the Shia religious parties which it has supported, have become the strongest political force.
Ironically, Mr. Bush is increasingly dependent within Iraq on the co-operation and restraint of the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called for the eradication of Israel. It is the allies of the Iranian theocracy who are growing in influence by the day and have triumphed in the election. The US will fear that development greatly as it constantly reminds the world of Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Iran may be happier with a weakened Iraq in which it is a predominant influence rather than see the country entirely break up.
Another victor in the election is the fiery nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia fought fierce battles with US troops last year. The US military said at the time it intended "to kill or capture him".
Mr. Bush cited the recapture of the holy city of Najaf from the Mehdi Army in August 2004 as an important success for the US Army. Mr. Sadr will now be one of the most influential leaders within the coalition.
All the parties which did well in the election have strength only within their own community. The Shia coalition succeeded because the Shia make up 60 per cent of Iraqis but won almost no votes among the Kurds or Sunni, each of whom is about 20 per cent of the population. The Sunni and the Kurdish parties won no support outside their own communities.
The US ambassador in Baghdad, Zilmay Khalilzad, sounded almost despairing yesterday as he reviewed the results of the election. "It looks as if people have preferred to vote for their ethnic or sectarian identities," he said. "But for Iraq to succeed there has to be cross-ethnic and cross-sectarian co-operation."
The election also means a decisive switch from a secular Iraq to a country in which, outside Kurdistan, religious law will be paramount. Mr. Allawi, who ran a well-financed campaign, was the main secular hope but that did not translate into votes. The other main non-religious candidate, Ahmed Chalabi, won less than 1 per cent of the vote in Baghdad and will be lucky to win a single seat in the new 275-member Council of Representatives.
"People underestimate how religious Iraq has become," said one Iraqi observer. "Iran is really a secular society with a religious leadership, but Iraq will be a religious society with a religious leadership." Already most girls leaving schools in Baghdad wear headscarves. Women's rights in cases of divorce and inheritance are being eroded.
Sunni Arab leaders were aghast at the electoral triumph of the Shia, claiming fraud. Adnan al-Dulaimi, the head of the Sunni Arab alliance, the Iraqi Accordance Front, said that if the electoral commission did not respond to their complaints they would "demand the elections be held again in Baghdad".
Mr. Allawi's Iraqi National List also protested. Ibrahim al-Janabi, a party official, said: "The elections commission is not independent. It is influenced by political parties and by the government." But while there was probably some fraud and intimidation, the results of the election mirror the way in which the Shia majority in Iraq is systematically taking over the levers of power. Shia already control the ministry of the interior with 110,000 police and paramilitary units and most of the troops in the 80,000-strong army being trained by the US are Shia.
Mr. Khalilzad said yesterday: "You can't have someone who is regarded as sectarian, for example, as Minister of the Interior." This is a not so-veiled criticism of the present minister, Bayan Jabr, a leading member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the largest Shia party. He is accused of running death squads and torture centers whose victims are Sunni Arabs.
It is unlikely that the Shia religious parties and militias will tolerate any rollback in their power. "They feel their day has come," said Mr. Attiyah.
For six months the Shia have ruled Iraq in alliance with the Kurds. Kurdish leaders are not happy with the way this government has worked. The Kurds, supported by the US, will now try to dilute Shia control of government by bringing in Sunni ministers and Mr. Allawi. But one Kurdish leader said: "We have a strategic alliance with the Shia religious parties we would be unwise to break."
The elections are also unlikely to see a diminution in armed resistance to the US by the Sunni community. Insurgent groups have made clear that they see winning seats in parliament as the opening of another front.
The break-up of Iraq has been brought closer by the election. The great majority of people who went to the polls voted as Shia, Sunni or Kurds - and not as Iraqis. The forces pulling Iraq apart are stronger than those holding it together. The election, billed by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair as the birth of a new Iraqi state may in fact prove to be its funeral.
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Sunni Arabs Call Baghdad Election Results Fraudulent, Demand Redress
By Jason Straziuso
Tuesday 20 December 2005
Baghdad - Sunni Arabs on Tuesday protested the partial election results released a day earlier, calling them a "falsification of the will of the people" and saying evidence of fraud was abundant.
Sunni Arab officials suggested that the country's security and stability were at stake if their complaints about last week's parliamentary vote were not addressed. Officials concentrated their protests on results from Baghdad province, the country's biggest electoral district.
Election officials said the United Iraqi Alliance - a Shiite party - took about 59 per cent of the vote from 89 per cent of ballot boxes counted in Baghdad province. The Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance Front received about 19 per cent, and the Iraqi National List headed by Ayad Allawi, a secular-minded Shiite, got about 14 per cent.
Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Iraqi Accordance Front, a coalition of three major Sunni Arab groups, said his party of Sunni Arabs rejected those results. The party said officials still had time to correct any mistakes, but if that wasn't done the results would be "grave repercussions on security and political stability."
If no measure are taken, al-Dulaimi said, "then we will demand that the elections be held again in Baghdad . . . . If this demand is not met, then we will resort to other measures."
The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, acknowledged Tuesday that there had been 20 "red" - or serious - complaints as of Monday that could affect the vote outcome.
"Final results will not be announced until those red complaints are looked at," he said.
Elsewhere, Mahmoud Ziyadat, a driver for Jordan's embassy, was kidnapped after his car was "intercepted" by three vehicles as he was driving to work Tuesday morning, Jordanian government spokesman Nasser Judeh said in Amman.
Gunmen, meanwhile, killed two police officers in Baqouba, 60 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, Diyalaa police said.
Preliminary election returns showed Iraqi voters divided along ethnic and religious lines with a commanding lead held by the religious Shiite coalition that dominates the current government.
The preliminary results for the 275-member parliament from 11 provinces showed the United Iraqi Alliance winning strong majorities in Baghdad and largely Shiite provinces in the south.
Kurdish parties were overwhelmingly ahead in their three northern provinces, while results from one of the four predominantly Sunni Arab provinces, Salahuddin, showed the Sunni Arab minority winning an overwhelming majority.
Early vote tallies suggested disappointing results for a secular party led by Allawi, a former prime minister and a US favorite who hoped to bridge the often violent divide that has emerged between followers of rival branches of Islam since the fall of Saddam.
As expected, religious groups, both Shiite and Sunni, were leading in many areas - an indication that Iraqis may have grown more religious or conservative.
Still, the ruling Shiite coalition - known as the United Iraqi Alliance - was unlikely to win the two-thirds majority, or at least 184 seats, needed to avoid a coalition with other parties.
A senior official in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the main groups in the United Iraqi Alliance, said the alliance was expecting to get about 130 seats.
The alliance is headed by cleric Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, one of the most powerful figures in the country.
"It's going to be 'Let's Make a Deal,' " said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "The important thing in some ways was that there was a large vote. The concerns that it would fall along ethnic and sectarian lines were validated."
US officials hope a coalition government involving Sunni Arabs will weaken a Sunni-led insurgency. Sunnis, a minority group favored under Saddam, voted heavily on Thursday after boycotting earlier elections.
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