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January 29, 2005
First Hour -- Looks Light But Clear

I'm watching Fox News while keeping an eye on the news wires for updates on the Iraqi elections, and so far the news looks pretty good. While the Fox cameras show light traffic at the Green Zone polling station, the first hour of the election has passed without any major attacks:

Voters trickled into polling stations under tight security Sunday in Iraq, casting ballots despite promises by insurgents to sabotage the country's first free election in a half-century.

Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer was one of the first to vote at election headquarters in the heavily fortified Green Zone, calling the action his country's first step "toward joining the free world."

Across the nation, the nearly 5,200 polling stations opened on schedule, with workers checking voter identifications and police standing guard. Turnout was expected to be slow in the early hours. Most attacks occur in the morning, and many Iraqis were likely to wait to see whether rebels carry through with threats to kill them.

There were no immediate reports of attacks, but an explosion was heard at the U.S. military base at Kirkuk in the north. Scattered small arms fire was heard near another U.S. base close to Baghdad's airport.

Baghdad's streets were deserted at dawn. The only activity on one stretch of empty roadway was an American Humvee racing in response to a burst of gunfire.

I watched as al-Yawer voted, wearing his flowing robe while he cast the first vote at the station. His vote went out over live television in Iraq as well, showing his fellow Sunnis that it is possible to vote safely. Afterwards, several people came in and voted quickly. The parliamentary style of government and the proportional representation method ensures that Iraqis can get in and out quickly of the polling stations; they simply vote for one slate of candidates rather than different offices.

The haze of the morning would appear to give the terrorists the cover necessary to stage attacks. Earlier, a group of seven terrorists attacked the US embassy in the Green Zone. However, an American drone picked up the attack and followed the idiots back to their house, where the American military captured them almost immediately. That has also received extensive airplay in Iraq, serving as a warning that American technology stands ready to identify and neutralize terrorist operatives.

If the terrorists can't stage attacks in the early hours, one can expect large turnouts later on. Of course, this really only applies to Baghdad, Mosul, and a few other locations. Most of the country does not face these issues and will likely see very heavy turnout. Zarqawi's nutcases may wind up suppressing Sunni influence even further than expected considering their proportion of the population.

Keep checking back for updates.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 29, 2005 10:57 PM

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Tracked on January 29, 2005 11:15 PM

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