January 30, 2005

"I Cannot Describe What I Am Seeing"


*- early estimate of 72% revised


Even in Falluja, the Sunni city west of Baghdad that was a militant stronghold until a U.S. assault in November, a steady stream of people turned out, confounding expectations. Lines of veiled women clutching their papers waited to vote.

"We want to be like other Iraqis, we don't want to always be in opposition," said Ahmed Jassim, smiling after he voted.

In Baquba, a rebellious city northeast of Baghdad, spirited crowds clapped and cheered at one voting station. In Mosul, scene of some of the worst insurgent attacks in recent months,
U.S. and local officials said turnout was surprisingly high.

One of the first to vote was President Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni Muslim Arab with a large tribal following, who cast his ballot inside Baghdad's fortress-like Green Zone.

"Thanks be to God," he told reporters, emerging from the booth with his right index finger stained with bright blue ink to show he had voted. "I hope everyone will go out and vote."


Baghdad's mayor was overcome with emotion by the turnout of voters at City Hall, where he said thousands were celebrating. "I cannot describe what I am seeing. It is incredible. This is a vote for the future, for the children, for the rule of law, for humanity, for love," Alaa al-Tamimi told Reuters.

Husayn writes at his newly renamed blog, Democracy In Iraq (Is Here!) ;
What a day it has been. I am very tired, but I am at peace, something I havn't felt in this regard before. I am happy to report that I found very few people during my post-voting trip through Baghdad who had not voted. I even got a few to "convert" and go out and vote. When confronted with the fact that staying away from voting was futile, some who had opposed the election relented, and went and made their mark.

Even now, I have no idea who is going to win, but it really isn't important. It is enough for me to know that our new government won't be the result of a sham election, that it will be the will of the people. We will not know who won for a few days, maybe weeks, but this is just a minor headache, and should not be taken by anyone to attack the election or it's validity. We don't have the machinery or technology available in the United States or other countries where you can find the result of elections overnight. We will one day though, and today is the first step on that path.

Let me end today's posts with a picture I found of a woman who was so overcome with emotion at voting that she cried. I believe this picture symbolizes every Iraqi's feelings today.

Jarvis has a fabulous roundup of quotes and links from bloggers in Iraq. Instapundit has lots, too.

Meanwhile, the networks are scrambling through the archives for material to fill the timeslots reserved for election bloodbath coverage. Jonah Goldberg, " I just walked over to my computer after seeing that the Today Show was offering viewers a segment on new shaving technologies for men."

Posted by Kate at January 30, 2005 11:34 AM

Iraq is now a permanent quagmire where people will have to vote every few years. Is that stable? Wasn't it better and more efficient to elect Saddam president for life and have done with it? It's elections like this that destabilise the entire Middle East.

I guess Kerry, the Hollywood wingnuts and the Democrat brains trust were right. But thank God they didn't win.

Posted by: Charles MacDonald at January 30, 2005 11:46 AM

The sky is now the limit for the people of Iraq. I wonder if they will be hosting the Olympics in the next 10-20 years? Guess we wait and see.

Posted by: Michael at January 30, 2005 1:39 PM


"an estimated eight million people rejected calls by insurgents to boycott the ballot."

but they still had some good news

"Few voters turned out in Sunni areas west and north of Baghdad and some polling stations remained shuttered, reports say."

The Toronto Star could also see a silver lining:

"- 44 die in election day violence"
"- A low Sunni turnout could undermine the new government and worsen tensions among the country's ethnic, religious and cultural groups."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was also hopeful that all was not lost.
"It's a beginning, not an end," he said.

Posted by: Cal at January 30, 2005 2:02 PM

The CBC and Toronto Star are both competing for the International Reporting Idiocy Award.

Posted by: rob at January 30, 2005 4:19 PM

Based on the CBC's "news" this morning I could only conclude that they must have done a whole lot of handwringing about the low Nazi turnout back when Germany held its first election after WWII. Of course, Nazi-identification has progressed tremendously since the forties, why, I bet they would have entirely missed the fact that Bush, Cheney and Condi are Nazies back then.

Posted by: Thom L at January 30, 2005 6:08 PM

How come that guy has TWO blue finger? Obviously Bush/Hitler and his brownshirts stole this election as well. Better bring in the Washington State election bureaucrats for a recount.

Posted by: firewalls 'r us at January 31, 2005 4:40 PM