Elections face Logistical Obstacles
Mohamad Bazzi of Newsday reports that quite aside from major security problems, the January 30 elections could be derailed by poor preparations. In contrast to the 600 UN election workers in Afghanistan for the recent presidential elections, there are only 35 in Iraq, and security concerns are delaying the sending of more. Even the rules of the election haven’t been completely spelled out yet.
Responding to similar skepticism voiced by President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Iyad Allawi suggested that the elections might be staggered and held over 3 weeks instead of in a single day. His thinking appears to be that the US troops will better be able to keep order if they are concentrated in a few provinces at a time.
The problems Bazzi reports, however, are so extensive that it seems unlikely that Allawi’s suggestion could resolve them. And US troops haven’t shown an ability to keep order even in the heavily fortified Green Zone, so how can they guard even a fraction of the 9000 polling sites successfully?
In Kuwait, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, gave an interview in which he described the security situation as “not good.” He expressed optimism, however, that the guerrillas were gradually being isolated and losing their bases among the people, so that they are weaker each day than the last.
Al-Hakim said that elections had to be held Jan. 30, since otherwise the present Iraqi interim government would become illegitimate. Its term was set to run out by the end of January, 2005, at the latest. He implied that after fighting Saddam for decades, the Iraqis would not accept such a descent into arbitrary rule. (-ash-Sharq al-Awsat).