Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Iraqi elections' unintended consequences

Following up on my last post, it appears that US military intelligence reports would not concur with Che's assessment of how elections might weaken insurgencies, at least in the Iraqi case.

The New York Times today notes that such reports say "the elections will be followed by more violence, including an increased likelihood of clashes between Shiites and Sunnis, possibly even leading to civil war, the officials said." Of course, this is what many people have been predicting might result from elections that effectively shut the Sunnis out of the political process.

But the leading news of that story was actually that a new Iraqi government (once legitimated by elections) will likely ask the U.S. to leave:
The Iraqi government that emerges from elections on Jan. 30 will almost certainly ask the United States to set a specific timetable for withdrawing its troops, according to new American intelligence estimates described by senior administration officials....

The assessments are based on the expectation that a Shiite Arab coalition will win the elections, in which Shiites are expected to make up a vast majority of voters, the officials said. Leaders of the coalition have promised voters they will press Washington for a timetable for withdrawal, and the assessments say the new Iraqi government will feel bound, at least publicly, to meet that commitment.
So perhaps the 21st century formulation of Che's concerns about elections and insurgencies should be: elections are bad for occupying forces.

Meanwhile, a trio from CSIS argue in a NYT op-ed that the Iraqi people could hold a referendum to decide upon the U.S. troop presence. Fat chance.

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