Peace In Iraq Still Elusive After

Peace in Iraq Still Elusive after Constitutional Referendum

Al-Hayat reports that 643,000 votes were cast in Ninevah Province (capital: Mosul). At the time it filed, 419,000 had been preliminarily counted, and the vote was running 75 percent in favor. Ninevah Province was the most likely place that Sunni Arabs opposing the constitution might be able to get a 2/3s “no” vote.

Several of my knowledgeable readers are convinced that the Ninevah voting results as reported so far look like fraud. One suspected that the Iraqi government so feared a defeat there that they over-did the ballot stuffing and ended up with an implausible result.

One of my Iraqi-American correspondents compared the turnout statistics from Ninevah and Diyala provinces last Jan. 30 to those coming out now, and found the current numbers completely unbelievable. He pointed out that the Iraqi Islamic Party had not garnered many votes in Ninevah last January, and its support of the constitution could not hope to explain the hundreds of thousands of “yes” votes the constitution appeared to receive on Saturday.

AFP reports that

‘In the Sunni-dominated province of Salaheddin, which includes Tikrit, election official Saleh Khalil Farraj told AFP that turnout was 80 per cent, but added that the percentage of ‘no’ votes was 71 per cent. ‘

I am quoted: ‘ The constitution is in fact likely to be quickly amended once a new round of general elections is held, and US Middle East expert Juan Cole from the University of Michigan told AFP the document was “fluid and changing”. “It is not even necessarily parliament that changes it … It is the clan and community leaders,” he noted, since a last-minute deal on the draft had been spearheaded by Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani and approved by leaders of Shia and Sunni groups before it was rubber-stamped by parliament. “This vote is sort of a national vote of confidence for that leadership,” Cole said. ‘

Glen Kessler of the Washington Post concludes that there is still a hard road ahead for the US in Iraq, even after the passage of the constitution.

Massoud Derhally quotes an unusually wide range of expert opinion in coming to the conclusion that peace in Iraq is still elusive after the constitutional referendum.

Ashraf al-Taie explains how the webite of ‘al-Qaeda in Iraq’ used to work before the webmaster was nabbed by US troops.

Nick Turse reviews the casualties of the Bush administration.

Col. Pat Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Agency official, weighs in on the Miller scandal. See also a CBS reporter’s is deep criticism of the New York Times for having allowed Judith Miller to acquire a security clearance and to sign away her ability to share what she learned under it with readers.

The Beyond Middle East Studies Blog comments further on the Judith Miller Plamegate case.

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