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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

News this week 02/13 - 02/19 - Iraq


United Iraq Alliance got 48% of the vote; the Kurdish Alliance party came in second with 25%; the Iraqi List, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's secular-oriented party, got 13%. Only the Kurdish party exceed expectations. 67% are needed to form a presidential council. The allocation of seats may take as long as a week after the three-day electoral verification period beginning Monday.

Elections held in Iraq on Jan. 30 were for a 275 seat transitional National Assembly and 18 provincial councils. Nearly 60% of 14 million eligible Iraqi voters participated. The National Assembly, which should be seated by March 1, will draft a constitution and select a president and two vice presidents. The constitution will be drafted by Aug 15 and a national referendum is scheduled for Oct 15. Elections for a permanent government is scheduled on Dec 15 and will take authority on Dec 31.

Shiite turnout (Shiite's comprise approx 60% of Iraqi's) was heavy, especially in the Shiite-dominated south where turnout averaged 61%-75%. Early results indicate the United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite clerics and supported by the most influential, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani (born and raised in Iran), may win as many as 130-140 of the 275 seats. Major parties in the coalition include the Iraqi National Congress, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Islamic Dawa Party.

In the Kurdish-dominated north (20% of the Iraqi population), turnout is ranged from 82-92%. The Kurdish Alliance is an alliance between two Kurdish parties, Kurdistan Democratic Party whose leader is Massoud Barzani and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan whose leader Jalal Talabani. They are expected to garner 70-75 seats.

The Iraqi List is expected to get 40 seats in the National Assembly.

Sunni turnout (20% of Iraq) was light due to boycotts from two major Sunni groups, the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Iraqi Islamic Party, and threats of violence on those who did participate (see Insurgency). No Sunni-dominated area polled more than 33% turnout. In Anbar province, turnout was 2%. The Association of Muslim Scholars are already taking heat for the boycott from Sunnis who did participate in the elections but polled badly.

Current estimates of the top favorites within the United Iraqi Alliance include al-Sadr's allies with maybe 21 seats, Adel Abdul Mahdi with 18, Ibrahim Al-Jafaari with 15 and Ahmed Chalabi with 13 seats. About 65-70 seats would be needed to control the Alliance, which in turn will likely control the National Assembly

Kurdish Iraqis in northern Iraq also voted for a regional parliament, a 105-seat Kurdistan Assembly.

2/13 - The Kurdish Alliance will nominate Jalal Talabani for president of Iraq
2/13 - Current Prime Minister Allawi, of the Iraqi List, met with members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party to attempt to block a Shiite governing coalition from getting the 2/3 majority to set up the transitional presidential council. Allawi is meeting with other minor parties.
2/13 - Election results - United Iraq Alliance got 48%; Kurdish party came in second with 25%. 67% are needed to form a presidential council.
2/12 - Election results to be released Sunday. After three day verification period beginning Monday, it will be considered final.

Possible candidates for prime minister are:
-> Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Assembly,
-> Ibrahim Al-Jafaari of the Dawa party and
-> Adel Abdul Mahdi (or Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim??) of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution.

- The provincial council of Maysan (95% Shiite) in southeastern Iraq is expected to lean favorably toward radical Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr of Najaf, who led a revolt against American forces last year.

- Other local preliminary results released Friday:
..in Wasit province, a party backed by al-Sadr won a majority, the only majority result throughout the country;
..the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq came out on top in the provinces of Karbala, Muthana, Najaf and Qadisiyah;
..the Sadr faction also took Theqar province as well as the Maysan province mentioned earlier
..Prime Minister Ayad Allawi party got 15% of the vote in Baghdad, while the Sadr movement got 9%.


Maysan province, the Marshes at the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, suffer from Saddam's damming of the rivers to flush out rebels and the diversion of the headwaters by Turkey and Syria for their own consumption.

2/12 - "Corruption will destroy all the efforts of reconstruction," said Khalid Qubiian, who ran for the provincial council on a clean-government platform. "That's our main problem."


The insurgency is mostly a Sunni insurgency of Saddam loyalists, Sunni opportunists and Sunnis afraid of an Iraqi government dominated by the majority Shiite population. It is also a rallying point for 'foreign' fighters who want to fight Americans, mostly under an Al Qaeda flag. More than 2,500 suspected insurgents were captured in the month leading up to the elections.

Just over 100 people killed in violence last week.

2/13 - Two Iraqi army officers and a soldier were shot and killed in the northwest Baghdad neighborhood of al-Kadimiya; an American military convoy was targeted by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad with no fatalities; a vehicle accident killed 3 US soldiers near Balad.
2/12 - 17 to 19 Iraqis killed in Musayyib; judge assassinated in Basra; bodies of six Iraqi National Guardsmen and six Kurds working as security guards were found in Mosul.
- An American base in northern Mosul was hit by mortar attacks fired from a local mosque. They responded and killed nine insurgents with no American fatalities. A woman was killed when a mortar round hit her house.
- A military convoy was hit by a roadside bomb new Youssifiyah. The only casualty was an Iraqi bystander.
- 24 Shiites were killed in two attacks, at a bakery and at a mosque.
- The bodies of a Sunni imam and his son were found on a highway outside of Baghdad.

NATO said that a NATO-sponsored military academy to train Iraqi officers would not be ready by September because of a lack of commitment from member nations to commit instructors and support troops.

Of concern is the Shiite holy day of Ashura, on Feb 19. It remembers the death of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Hussein. Last year, attacks in Baghdad and Karbala killed nearly 200 Shiite pilgrims. The Iraqi government have said they will close the borders for five days starting Thursday, Feb 17.

American-Iraqi Diplomatic Relations

As Iraq reemerges as a bona fide country, diplomatic relations, particularly with America, are in flux. This section will attempt to document the reforming relations

2/12 - American diplomat Robert Ford met with Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Assembly in Baghdad last week for a couple hours.


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