Thursday, December 15, 2005

Top Story of the Day...


...or at least it should be. Thankfully, most news sources are reporting on this well.

Sources:
OpinionJournal's Best of the Web (including Reuters and Washington Post), The New York Times, and the most interesting of them all, Pajamas Media - which has full coverage from on-the-site bloggers live-blogging from Iraq. CNN doesn't have any coverage on their homepage, even in the headlines, as of now.
Purple Fingers

Iraqis today voted en masse, with an estimated 11 million votes being cast across the nation. In an interesting development, most of the terrorists seem to have called for a lull today so their fellow Sunnis could go and vote safely. There were approximately half the normal amount of attacks today, including just 14 against polling places. By contrast, there were 300 during the previous set of elections in January.

The differences in reporting from Pajamas Media and the more mainstream news organizations is quite interesting: Pajamas Media, with its compilation of live blogging from numerous bloggers on the ground, has actually given a much better feel of what is going on by the polling places, giving a clear picture of people's emotions and feelings about today's momentous vote. Aside from the numerous live blogs to the side, it sums up some highlights in one post, such as these little notes:
A.S. in Najaf -- whose report was delayed while he sought internet access -- toured 10 polling centers and quoted voter Ali-Hassoon al-Badri who said "electing our representatives is a basic right for everyone and it is not a gift from anyone." N.R. in Mosul reported that as the voting deadline drew to a close, "substantial numbers of people [were] coming to the stations" to vote, while Mosul's police command volunteered to drive in voters who lived at a distance from the polls. Ninety minutes after the polls had closed, Mohammed of Iraq the Model in Baghdad reported a full summary of data, including that 600,000 observers of various kinds watched the polls to guard the process, and "countless numbers of conferences, lectures and workshops" had been held to educate and encourage people to vote. W. Z. reported from Erbil that one polling official was so happy with the vote "I can't even feel tired." N.R. in Mosul found that the National Accord Front was doing well because its religious appeal attracted many votes "in spite of the reservations and objections of the educated classes in Mosul." A.T. in Babil reported, humorously, that an election official refused to let Babil's governor cast his ballot "until he showed his i.d. card," and some polling places broke out soft drinks while men and women voters sang celebratory songs. And in Hilla, A.T. reported, the city council provided 125 buses to take voters to the polls.
The typical news organizations did a fine job as well, providing the more general story as they should, as the New York Times did,
Iraqis streamed to the polls in cities and villages across the country, some bringing their children, some pushing wheelchairs, many dressed in their finest clothes. With streets across the country closed to vehicular traffic, many Iraqis milled about the streets after they cast their ballots, looking on as their children played soccer.

The day's most dramatic events unfolded in the country's Sunni Arab neighborhoods, where hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who had boycotted the election in January came out this time to vote. Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad, like Adamiya, and in Kirkuk and Western Mosul, ordinarily tense and bereft of security, were filled with Iraqis walking to polling centers and lining up to cast their ballots.
and the Washington Post did as well.
Iraqi voters turned out in force countrywide Thursday to elect a parliament to remake their troubled nation, with Sunni-led Iraqi insurgent movements suspending attacks for a day so that Sunni Arabs could vote en masse for the first time.

There were no boycotts this time and insurgents were providing security at some polling places. In Ramadi, for example, guerrillas of the Iraqi Islamic Army movement took up positions in some neighborhoods, promising to protect voters from any attacks by foreign fighters.
The Times also provided this very interesting and telling anecdote:
The comments by the Sunni voters, though anecdotal, suggested that a good number of them had stayed away from the polls in January not because they were disenchanted with the democratic process, but because they were afraid of being killed.

Indeed, the apparent confusion within the insurgency has prompted American diplomats to say they have succeeded in driving a wedge between the most violent groups, like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and the more nationalist-minded ones, which the Americans and the Iraqis believe can probably be accommodated.
And a commenter on Roger L. Simon's blog had some great quotes:
Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari: "Ballot Boxes Are A Victory Of Democracy Over Dictatorship." (Alastair Macdonald And Luke Baker, "Big Turnout In Iraq Election Despite Scattered Attacks," Reuters, 12/15/05)
In Ramadi, CNN's Nic Robertson Reports "An Atmosphere Of Celebration." ROBERTSON: "The polling station that I can see just down across the road there, one person voted there two months ago in the referendum in October. This time we understand over 100 people have voted. In the west of the city, many hundreds have turned out to vote. We're being told when they get to the polling stations, there's sort of an atmosphere of celebration, people handing out candies, very much like for the rest the country when they went to the polls in big numbers back in January." (CNN's "American Morning," 12/15/05)
Fallujah's Mayor: "Right Now The City Is Experiencing A Democratic Celebration." "'Right now the city is experiencing a democratic celebration,' Mayor Dari Abdul Hadi Zubaie said in Fallujah, where voters streamed to the polls. 'It's an election wedding.'" (Ellen Knickmeyer And Jonathan Finer, "A Lack Of Violence As Iraqis Vote To Choose New Government," The Washington Post, 12/15/05)
"I Am Proud As An Iraqi..." "'I am proud as an Iraqi because our country is becoming a center of attraction for all Arab countries,' said Mohammad Wadi, a 50-year-old Shiite schoolteacher casting his ballot in the capital's Karada district. He added, 'The new situation in Iraq, the democratic system, is starting to put pressure on the Arab systems to make some changes toward democracy.'" (Borzou Daragahi, "Large And Largely Peaceful Iraqi Voter Turnout Today," Los Angeles Times, 12/15/05)
What a wonderful, historic day. Congratulations, Iraq!

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