Another Letter From A Solider In Iraq — On Elections

From RWN reader RtWingNtCase,

Wow, provincial elections are over and now I can take a breath. At least until we gear back into registering SoIZ (Sons of Iraq) again.

I’ve been able to kind of follow the news over here and was stunned to see that the Republicans held together against the Stimulus Plan. I don’t know why they’ve picked now, however, to find their fiscal roots since they spent like drunken sailors when they had actual power. Imagine what we could have done with some spending discipline until now!

We’ve all been totally stoked over the elections. We were real worried because most of us figure this is basically AQI/ISI’s (Al Qaeda/ISI’s) last real chance to influence things. Sure, there will be district elections this summer and national elections near the end of the year, but this one was run almost exclusively by the Iraqis. We provided ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and a quick reaction force if asked for, but they never asked. Our patrols were on the street, but there were almost no small arms fire incidents and I think only a few IEDs the whole day across a VERY large area (I’m up in MND-N). And these things produced no casualties.

We exceeded the national vote average up here in MND-N, and Sal ad Din, one of the Sunni bastions, had the highest turnout in the country. Remember that the Sunnis boycotted the elections in 2005, and then found out that was a really stupid idea when they had no power on any of the councils that can get stuff done. They came out in force this time and participated rather than throwing bombs. Most that I spoke to talked about this being their chance to shape their future.

That’s not to say there weren’t some issues. Some folks who weren’t registered tried to vote and weren’t allowed to do so, and they held a few protests around the area (mostly in Diyala Province). But they dispersed peacefully. Somebody for AFP tried to say folks stormed a polling center, but we had guys around there and they asked, “What?” Basically, unregistered folks were turned away and yelled at some IHEC officials, but no one got violent about it.

Our next worry is election results. We really take for granted the peaceful transfer of power we have in the United States. That tradition doesn’t exist over here – power has never been given, always taken. And usually violently. So they’re learning new things. We see how heated things can get at home when results are different than expected, so we want to see how easily folks will step down who’ve been ousted, and how those who were “absolutely sure” they would win will handle getting beaten.

I’m going to say that I, personally, think the insurgency is dead. It has become a minor irritant but possesses no power to take over the country. It’s too splintered and the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) are too much in charge now. The biggest thing we’re starting to focus on here now is the tension over Article 140 with the Kurds and the (Government of Iraq). If anything blows up, that’ll be it. The Kurds have their area, but there is a large swath that is in dispute. The Kurds claim it was “Arabized” by Saddam and they want it back for cultural reasons, so I’m certain (please note the sarcastic tone here) that the massive oilfields under the disputed area hold no sway over their judgment. We’ve managed to keep them talking rather than fighting, so there’s hope, but this takes the whole “yankee/rebel” thing to new heights. We may joke about “The South Shall Rise Again!”, but it’s usually in jest. They don’t joke about that stuff over here. If there’s a flashpoint left, this is it.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. BTW, maybe we can fund the next phase of this thing by getting the back taxes from the folks who’ve been nominated for cabinet positions.

aka – RtWingNtCase

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