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September 8, 2005
Sunnis Join The Political Process

After getting burned by a badly-advised boycott of the first free elections in Iraq for decades, the Sunnis have apparently decided not to repeat their mistake from last January. The Washington Post reports that Sunni voter registration has skyrocketed in Iraq, as the nation debates the current proposition for its new, permanent constitution:

Voter registration soared in some Sunni Arab parts of Iraq as Sunnis mobilized to try to vote down a draft constitution they believe will divide the country, according to figures released Wednesday at the close of registration for the Oct. 15 referendum. ...

The surge in voter registration in the heavily Sunni west signaled the minority's belated entry into the country's political process. Most Sunnis stood on the sidelines of the Jan. 30 national elections that seated the transitional government, which was charged with drafting the constitution. As a result, Sunnis were left with diminished political leverage in negotiations over the document.

This time, "we registered to defeat the constitution," said Khalid Jubouri, a guard at a government ministry in Fallujah, a city in the volatile western province of Anbar. "This is considered fighting by word and thought. We are optimistic about the battle, and we will win it eventually."

Registration in Anbar swelled from a tiny percentage of eligible adults in January to nearly 85 percent, said Muhammed Ibrahim, the director of voter registration centers in the province.

Ibrahim said about 600,000 of the province's 715,000 eligible adults registered, despite pledges from al Qaeda in Iraq, an insurgent group led by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian, that anyone who took part in the voting would become a target for killing.

The new surge in registrations deals a bigger defeat to the Zarqawi terror network, which has repeatedly warned of their intent to target anyone who participates in democracy. For a while, the Sunnis heeded that threat while believing that the rest of the Iraqis would once again bend to the Sunni will through the childish electoral equivalent of holding its collective breath until they turned blue. The draft constitution produced by the Assembly created from their intransigence has finally shown the Sunnis the error of judgment made by their deloberate underrepresentation.

This marks an important development in the life of the Iraqi democracy. Instead of gathering guns to fight against this proposal, the Sunnis had begun gathering voter registrations. They have opted to participate in the new Iraq and use the ballot box instead of bombs and bullets to influence the direction of their nation. The former privileged class under Saddam Hussein has acknowledged the legitimacy of the other populations of Iraqis in contributing to the governing of their country -- a tremendous political step, and one that further isolates Zarqawi. More and more, he represents no one but himself and his mercenaries from outside Iraq.

With the news focused on Hurrican Katrina, one can understand why this news might not make the front page. However, the Post's placement of this on page A24 calls into question whether the editors have bothered to read the article and understand its implications for the war on terror.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 8, 2005 6:10 AM

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» Three Cheers for the Sunnis! from CrosSwords
The NYT is reporting that the Sunnis are organizing to defeat the Constitution (registration required) and, failing that, to elect more representatives in the December elections. Some Sunni leaders said they were already preparing a campaign to de... [Read More]

Tracked on September 8, 2005 7:06 AM

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