Allawi seeks unity among Iraqis (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Sharon Behn BAGHDAD, Iraq 02/01/05)
WASHINGTON TIMES Articles-Index-Top
BAGHDAD Prime Minister Iyad Allawi yesterday urged Iraq´s political
and religious groups to work together for the sake of the nation as
officials flushed with the success of the Sunday elections
settled down to count the ballots.
"Today, we are entering a new phase in our history. It is time for
all Iraqis to come together and build our future. It is time to put
the troubles and divisions of the past behind us," Mr. Allawi said.
Addressing concerns that the turnout was lower among Sunni Arabs than
among Shi´ites, he said it was crucial that there emerge a "new
national dialogue that guarantees that all Iraqis have a voice in the
Election officials in polling stations nationwide upended thousands
of unsealed clear plastic ballot boxes and began to sort out the
votes for Iraq´s new 275-seat national assembly.
The ballots are then to be transported to a national center where
they will be recounted and tallied. The Independent Electoral
Commission of Iraq said it expected the official result to be
announced by Feb. 9.
The vote took place under a massive U.S. and Iraqi security
clampdown, which officials said had demonstrated the capabilities of
the new Iraqi security forces.
"Iraqi police can now hold their heads up high," said Interior
Minister Falah Hassan al-Nakib, who called police who died under
Mr. al-Nakib said about 200 terrorists were arrested or killed
Sunday, including an Assyrian, a Sudanese, a Yemeni, two Saudis and
an Egyptian. There were seven attacks on police, 46 on civilians and
38 on polling stations, he said.
A U.S. diplomat said there were 260 attacks nationwide four or five
times more than normal. More than 100 of the attacks were aimed at
polling stations, with suicide bombers wearing explosives-laden vests
in eight instances. Forty-four persons were reported killed.
"What was significant about these attacks was the low degree of
lethality," the diplomat said. "This was a tremendous security
effort, [and] in almost every case, it was the Iraqi forces which
stopped the attacks."
Mr. al-Nakib said one policeman threw himself on an attacker wearing
an explosives-laden vest. The policeman died when the vest blew up,
but several people were saved.
In another incident, terrorists used a handicapped child to carry out
a suicide attack. "This is an indication of the horrific actions they
are carrying out," the minister said.
Insurgents killed three U.S. Marines in a roadside bombing south of
the capital. A riot broke out during a search for contraband at a
prison in southern Iraq, ending only when U.S. forces fired into the
crowd, killing four men.
Jordanian terror leader Abu Musab Zarqawi pledged on an Islamist Web
site that his group´s attacks would not end "until the banner of
[Islamic] unity flutters over Iraq."
"These elections and their results ... will increase our strength and
intention to getting rid of injustice," the statement said.
Separately, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network yesterday aired a
video supplied by Iraqi insurgents that purported to show a missile
had downed a transport plane that killed 10 British soldiers on
The footage, which could not be independently verified, showed
wreckage of the plane in the desert near Baghdad. But a British
newspaper reported that London authorities think the plane had been
flying too high to be hit by a missile and are considering whether a
bomb had been placed on board before takeoff.
U.S. officials acknowledged that the calm established by the security
clampdown Sunday could not continue once curfews are lifted, borders
are reopened and traffic patterns return to normal.
Even before the ballot-counting began, political leaders were
preparing to negotiate the coalitions that will be needed for
anything to get done in the national assembly.
The chamber´s first order of business is to choose a three-person
presidency council, which must be elected by a two-thirds majority.
"People who have the same [political] denominator will be working
together, [and] religious parties standing on religious platforms
will be standing on the other side," said Iraqi President Ghazi
Mashal Ajil al-Yawer.
"Both will need each other the sectarian-oriented and the religious-
oriented. We will have to reach a consensus, you will see, you will
be surprised," he told reporters in his offices inside the U.S.-
fortified green zone.
Vote counting was reported to have proceeded rapidly yesterday.
Members of the Shi´ite-led United Iraqi Alliance, which like other
parties had representatives observing the counting, said they had
secured 80 percent to 90 percent of the vote in some southern cities
and as much as 45 percent nationwide.
A mainly Shi´ite party led by Mr. Allawi and a Kurdish coalition also
were thought to have done well.
"We are still insisting to form a partnership government including
all segments of the Iraqi people," said Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader
of the United Iraqi Alliance, which is closely associated with the
revered cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani.
One older Sunni man, who said he had refused to vote because the
country was under U.S. occupation, said the new government would have
to sit down with the resistance and see what it wants.
"The politicians have been unable to control the country. Let us now
listen to the others putting terrorists aside," he said.
Iraqis typically distinguish between foreign terrorists such as
Zarqawi and violent Iraqi nationalists who they think can be
persuaded to join the political process.
The U.S. diplomat said the most violent insurgents were unlikely to
ease up on attacks just because of the elections.
"If I were an insurgent, I would be really bitterly disappointed at
what happened yesterday," he said.
"I would decide, ´What am I going to do about it?´ I certainly
wouldn´t conclude I should surrender. I would have to conclude ´I
have to show I´m still a player,´ " he said.
"The Zarqawis and the wannabe Zarqawis are all about violence and all
about chaos. They enjoy what they do, and they´re good at it," he
said, but added that less-militant groups might be persuaded to
reconsider their approach. (Copyright 2005 News World Communications,
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY