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Re: [casi-analysis] Will there be elections in January?

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Dear All

Many thanks to Daniel for this excellent account of the election problems. I
was particularly interested in what he had to say about the census. When
Sistani originally proposed elections as soon as possible we were told that
it was impossible because of the lack of a census. He himself advocated the
use of the ration cards and he could not be accused of wanting to favour the
pro-Baath segments of the population.

It is clear that the conditions for the elections are now much worse than
they were then and I note that the Iraqi Prospect Organisation in a recent
mailing argued that since they would be even worse in January we might as
well have the elections now (presumably using the ration cards which they
condemned a year ago).

However, it now seems to me that the time is past that the elections could
establish a government in Iraq that could be generally recognised as
legitimate. In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, yes. Even a year ago
it might have worked but it won't work now.

It most certainly won't work if the US persist in their efforts to secure
control of the whole country. Without going into the question of what their
real motives might be this is experienced as a continuation of the war. We
are asking peoples who are being invaded to conduct elections under the
'protection' of an invader whose invasion is still incomplete.

It is impossible that the continued presence of the invader could be a force
for stability. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that the departure of the
invader would bring stability either. The US and UK governments have done
the worst, most criminal thing they could possibly do: they have smashed a
state and reduced a society down to its elements. The creation of a unified
state is a long, complex, often bloody business. Iraq had made great
progress in it. That progress has been undone.

I can see no way in which we can hope to contribute to the re-establishment
of the sort of national unity that would be necessary if elections were to
produce a legitimate government. Two things seem to be to be possibly

1) The moral authority of Sistani (which was almost lost through the attack
on Najaf during his absence). Hopefully tbis extends beyond the Shi'i

2)  I've little hope for this but if the resistance could unite politically
it could emerge in the manner of the Algerian FLN as a body capable of
establishing government

The only contribution we can make is to remove ourselves. Personally I think
this will result in an intensification of the struggle between the different
Iraqi groups =- not because Iraqis are prone to violence but because that is
what happens when you destroy the state. But there will then be some hope of
a resolution. So long as we are there there is no hope.

All the best

Peter Brooke

'This aim was achieved in the two wars of 1991 and 2003. Iraq as a strong,
unitary Arab state no longer exists. It has effectively been dismembered.
The best that can be hoped for under present circumstances is that it will
eventually re-emerge as a loose federation.'

> From: Daniel O'Huiginn <>
> Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 12:58:43 +0100 (BST)
> To:
> Subject: [casi-analysis] Will there be elections in January?
> [ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ]
> Dear list,
> There have recently been a couple of good articles on progress
> towards the January elections (1, 5), as well as a Secretary General's
> report earlier in the month giving a summary of the limited progress over
> the summer (16, p. 7-9). Throughout that period, worries about the
> deadline have been floating around, with the UN quietly panicking (2), and
> Iraqi politicians needing to publicly deny that there have been problems
> (3)
> The most important question is whether the elections will happen at all.
> Kofi Annan has been becoming gradually more pessimistic in his public
> statements, most recently telling the BBC that "You cannot have credible
> elections if the security conditions continue as they are now."(17). I
> imagine the US wants to avoid any definite postponement before their own
> elections, so I wouldn't wait for anything so downbeat from them. But the
> situation on the ground more than justifies Annan's attitude. The UN
> election assistants have fled to Jordan (5), and the (Iraqi) members of
> the electoral commission ((4) has a list of their names) rarely dare leave
> the Green Zone, and feel forced to travel incognito (1) whenever they do
> venture out. Candidates, too, will have a hard time roaming the country
> without getting shot. Ironically, they'll need to travel because of the
> proportional representation system, which was put in place to make it
> harder for local militias to intimidate candidates.
> In such a climate, it's natural that most people, like Annan, see security
> as the main problem. Unfortunately, this has led to an extremely
> counter-productive approach from the military, which insists that it must
> invade 'no-go areas' like Najaf and Fallujah in order to provide security
> for elections. For example an AP from a fortnight ago says that "The U.S.
> military will work to regain control of rebel strongholds and turn them
> over to Iraq's fledgling security forces so elections will be seen by
> Iraqis - and the world - as free and fair." (13)
> Helena Cobban picks this argument apart in the Christian Science Monitor
> (12). She argues - based on a comparison to South Africa - that: "For
> elections to be held and to be judged valid in any part of Iraq, it is not
> necessary that US forces be in control of that area - only that it be
> peaceable enough to allow free access by election workers, candidates, and
> party organizers, all of whom are Iraqi, not American. If the election
> process has enough general political credibility in the country, they will
> have the access they need."
> In fact, escalating the conflict with Sadr is having the opposite effect,
> opening up the awful possibility of no elections in Fallujah whatsoever:
> "At the weekend Dr Allawi mooted an alternative possibility, also floated
> by Lieutenant- General Thomas Metz, operations chief of the 150,000 US-led
> troops in Iraq: that elections could be prevented or delayed in Fallujah
> without prejudicing the overall result." (1)
> Looking at Allawi's comments another way, they're just another step in the
> long process of scaling back expectations for the elections. In June the
> UN thought 30,000 polling stations would be needed(6). Now, they're
> planning to have 7,000 (5). The same scaling-back is happening with voter
> registration. In June, the UN was planning to use oil for food ration
> cards to identify voters (9). This was replaced by a plan to have a full
> census, which would have taken place on October 12 (7). As the 21 July IPO
> news analysis (10) explains, this is a good thing because the "ration card
> database is deeply flawed. The Hajj pilgrimage allocations, executed in
> December and which were based on that database, resulted in gross
> overestimation of population size of districts that were Ba'athi
> strongholds, and underestimation of population size from districts that
> were hostile to Saddam." I'd add to that the practical problem that
> however good the ration cards were two years ago, they're out of date now,
> given the large migrations, return of expatriates, etc. A census would
> also be extremely useful for other reasons (11) However, the census was
> cancelled in late August because of security concerns(8), and so we're
> back to the OFF cards (5). What's worse, the procedure for dealing with
> discrepencies is pretty flimsy: "Residents will be able to look at the
> list for six weeks in November and December to make corrections...We don't
> have time to worry too much" (5)
> Another issue that pops up from time to time is postal voting for
> non-resident Iraqis. Not surprisingly, the 5-million-strong expatriate
> community are keen on this, but there are problems. Leaving aside the
> practical issues of finding them, registering them, and getting them
> ballot papers, there is the problem that many of those who would class
> themselves as Iraqi don't have official citizenship. Because 4 fifths of
> the expatriates are Shia, some Sunni groups may also object to postal
> voting (15). To understand the significance of this, bear in mind that
> five million people is somewhere around a sixth of the total population.
> The obvious next question is what happens if elections are postponed or
> seriously flawed. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, but in the
> meantime I'll leave you with this comment from Juan Cole (18):
> "Sistani's quite resonable demand for elections is nevertheless among
> the greatest dangers facing the Allawi government and the Americans. It
> will be extremely difficult actually to hold the elections on time. But
> Sistani believes only such elections can produce a legitimate government,
> and he already accepted a six-month delay. If the elections are not held,
> and if Sistani begins to fear they won't be held soon, he may well call
> the masses into the streets. That could lead to an overthrow of Allawi and
> an expulsion of the Americans. Keep your eye on February and March of
> 2005."
> 1.,,7374-1261760,00.html
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> ectCountry=IRAQ
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> ment
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> 18.
> ------------
> Daniel O'Huiginn
> 07745 192426
> 24, Priory Road, Cambridge
> ------------
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