The recent elections in Iraq are yet another indication that the country is moving on from its violent, sectarian driven past and moving towards becoming a beacon of Arab democracy. Up to 15 million Iraqis were eligible to cast votes in the elections for regional government which are being held across the country, with more than 14,000 candidates competing for just 440 seats!
This was the first nationwide vote in four years and is widely seen as a test of stability before a general election due later this year. The vote was almost entirely peaceful with just a few reports of violence, despite Al Qaeda threats. After a slow start to voting, the pace picked up and there was a “holiday atmosphere” among voters walking to the polling stations. Lubna Naji, a Baghdad medical student, told the BBC that “people here are so excited by the feeling that their vote can make a difference.” The turnout was reported to be high even in Sunni areas and due to the strong turnout voting had to be extended by one hour.
Sunni turnout was expecting to be above 60% compared to less than 2% in 2005 election when they boycotted the election. This resulted in the Shia and Kurdish parties taking control of parliament and the resentment that was to spill over into sectarian violence. The fact that so many Sunnis took part in the vote shows how far Iraq has come since “the surge” began, Iraqis can see a future for themselves and their country now.
Barack Obama hailed the poll as an “important step forward” for Iraqi self-determination. “I congratulate the people of Iraq on holding significant provincial elections today,” he said in a statement. Well that’s all well and good Mr President but if it were up to you these people would not be expressing their democratic rights to shape the future of their country now would they. No if it was up to you they would be still ruled by a brutal dictator, who gassed and tortured his own people. Yet another reason why the war was the right thing to do. Try telling the jubilant people of Iraq that the war was wrong, yes there were mistakes and tragedies, but out of it all came freedom and liberty. This will be Bush’s legacy a fitting tribute to a man who made difficult decisions to help free the world of tyranny.