2/03/2005|||110742530426984652||||||
SUNNIS

You could hardly call the Independent - home to R. Fisk, Esq - a pro-war paper. But note the sub-text in today's dispatch from Baghdad by Borzou Daragahi. The article bears a typical bad news headline, but it makes a striking point about the low Sunni turn-out. The wicked Americans seem to be guilty of not enabling enough people to cast a ballot:

In many Sunni towns, the vote appears to have been marked as much by confusion as intimidation. Community leaders say a surge of interest in the elections brought larger-than-expected numbers to the polls but many were prevented from casting a vote by a shortage of polling stations, lack of ballot papers and concerns over security.

...Mishan Jabouri, leader of the Sunni-dominated Homeland Party, said he had pleaded with US embassy officials and the election commission to prepare for a last-minute surge of interest in Sunni Arab strongholds. "I said, 'please try to open an election centre in Ramadi. Please, there are not enough ballots in Hawija, not enough in Beiji, not enough in Mosul."

In one complaint filed by an official of the Homeland Party in Hawija, a violent Sunni Arab stronghold south-west of Kirkuk, voters complained ballots ran out at 11.30am and extra ballots did not arrive until 3.30pm, 90 minutes before the close of voting. Party officials say 8,000 too few ballots were delivered.

...Many Sunnis appear to have been torn between outright suspicion of the election process and a desire to influence the new National Assembly. Maisem Khalil Yacoub and her husband, Sabah al-Tayee, tried to vote in the Adhamiya neighbourhood of Baghdad, where gunfire and explosions marked the day. But after walking fruitlessly from one closed election centre to another for three hours in the Sunni area they went home without voting.

UPDATE: The New York Times' Dexter Filkins offers a more pessimistic view of the turn-out. However, the WPost, quoting a western observer, detects a change in the general mood:

[T]he Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sunni leaders apparently realize they should participate in the new government. "I think there is a recognition up and down the Sunni community . . . that there is a political process going forward, including the drafting of the constitution," the diplomat said.
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/02/sunnis-you-could-hardly-call.html|||2/03/2005 10:32:00 am|||||||||
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