Sunnis Opposed Early Direct Elections
Both az-Zaman and Reuters highlight the opposition of many Sunni Arab leaders to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s demand for open, direct elections in Iraq this may. It quoted “Sunni tribal leader Shaikh Abd al-Wahab al-Zawbaai” as saying direct elections are unrealistic: “We see the conditions now as totally unsuitable for elections. People are in a state of chaos and there is no respect for the law.” A spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party (Muslim Brotherhood), Hashim al-Hasani, seemed to warn of Sunni-Shiite violence if direct elections are held: “It’s the nature of human beings: when you corner a man, he will react and defend himself. There are lots of weapons in this country… If people are pressured they will use these weapons to defend themselves.”
Az-Zaman says that the Communist representative on the Interim Governing Council, and most of the Kurdish members, are also against direct elections. Since the Shiites form 60 to 65 percent of Iraqis, direct elections to a unicameral parliament could produce a tyranny of the Shiite majority, which terrifies the Sunnis. Under all Iraqi regimes of the 20th century, Sunnis were highly favored and given disproportionate wealth and power.