Preliminary election results in Iraq are being reported. Lynch is worried about Baghdad:
Preliminary results from the Baghdad provincial council election have begun to filter out into the Iraqi press. The lead story will probably be that Maliki’s Rule of Law list won more than half the seats. But the more important story may be that all of the Sunni lists combined evidently only won four or five seats between them. That, combined with the fiasco in Anbar, could put Sunni frustration firmly back into the center of Iraqi politics – risking alienation from politics, intensified intra-Sunni competition, and perhaps even a return of the insurgency.
Juan Cole looks at the results as a whole and doesn’t sound as alarmed:
I think these results are encouraging for Obama.
The Sunni Arab ex-Baathist secular elites have reentered polities in the Sunni Arab areas. These election results put paid to the fantasies of Dick Cheney and John McCain that Sunni Arab Iraqis are pro-“al-Qaeda.” Most of them would not even vote for a religious party, much less for a radical fundamentalist terrorist group. Cheney said that if the US left, al-Qaeda would take over Sunni Arab Iraq. That is highly unlikely given these election results.
Ilan Goldenberg’s take:
Sunnis seemed to underachieve in Baghdad getting around 20% of the seats (This from a city that just a few years ago was 65% Sunni). There is also still a great deal of tension in Anbar where the initial results had the IIP (The religious party) winning big and the some of the tribes threatening war in response. It now appears that some of the tribal groups may have done better than initially reported and in fact defeated the IIP. The key question is whether all the players in Anbar will accept the election results or will this be the beginning of a new wave of intra-Sunni violence?
(Photo: An electoral worker readies to pick-up a full ballot box to be opened following last week’s nationwide provincial elections electoral tally center in Baghdad on February 6, 2009. A coalition backed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was the star performer in Shiite-majority provinces in a show of confidence for the premier’s policies, election results showed. By Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images.)