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August 05, 2008

Still No Provincial Elections
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

So, it looks like the Iraqi Parliament is likely not going to be able to get an agreement on the provincial elections today, which would mean they would be postponed until next year.

"With the help of the United Nations we reached a new phrasing for Article 24, which was agreed by the Kurds and accepted by some of the other MPs," first deputy speaker Sheikh Khalid Al-Attia said after Tuesday's session.

"We were surprised by the objections of some other members," he said in comments broadcast by state television.

Attia said that several blocs, including a Turkmen party and a Sunni Arab bloc as well as the Shiite radical movement of anti-US cleric Moqtada Sadr, had insisted on putting off the whole provincial elections process until next year.

On the one hand, this isn't the worst thing.  Trying to push for rushed elections, which would likely be of questionable legitimacy and couldn't guaranteed to be fair could have made things worse.  On the other it still shows how complicated the situation is.  The whole initial drive by the U.S. to encourage the provincial elections was to get the Sunni tribes into the government, but it's created a bunch of new dynamics including the latest confrontation on Kirkuk.   I'm also surprised to see the Sadrists opposing the new elections law considering they had been pushing for earlier elections in which they are expected to do well.  Not at all surprising to see the current Sunni leadership try to hold elections off as long as possible to try and freeze out the Awakening Groups.  But that strategy can't last forever.  Eventually, the Awakening Groups will get fed up and give up on the political process.  I don't think anyone wants to see that happen.

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Attia said that several blocs, including a Turkmen party and a Sunni Arab bloc as well as the Shiite radical movement of anti-US cleric Moqtada Sadr, had insisted on putting off the whole provincial elections process until next year.

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