Thursday, January 05, 2006

After the election, frustration replaces optimism...

For two consecutive days we hear the news reports describing each day as the “bloodiest since the election”.
Yesterday and today left hundreds dead or injured in several regions of the country, and with severe fuel and electricity shortage, the atmosphere is quite tense and worrisome.

The interior and defense ministries are losing whatever trust it gained in the past with shocking recent failures in protecting lives and property. People started even making jokes of the interior minister who failed to protect his own sister.
Some local news sources reported that the captors want to trade the hostage’s life for 12 of their partners detained by the interior ministry at an earlier time.

The new army has also failed the expectations after they failed to protect the fuel tankers that were trying to rescue Baghdad from her fuel crisis as they promised, the convoy escorted by the army lost 20 tanker vehicles and 3 drivers and I doubt other drivers will think of going through this again, at least not now.

All this comes while commanders in the defense ministry are busy refusing the American commanders’ candidate for leading the brigade that is planned to assume security tasks in the heart of Baghdad. The only apparent reason for refusing this candidate-who succeeded in elevating the readiness level of his brigade from class 3 to class 1 according to an American military adviser-the only apparent reason is his Sunni background.
Mohammed al-Askari, spokesman of the defense ministry said they ministry is preparing an emergency security plan to implement incase there’s a sudden withdrawal of American troops.

The interior ministry is also trying to put the blame on someone else than the minister, so they decided to fire Baghdad’s police chief after the city council suddenly realized that he’s the reason for security failure, the police chief also happens to be Sunni!
The report submitted by the city council to the interior ministry and published on al-Mada highlighted 15 negative points on the police chief’s performance including “slow reaction to incidents of abduction and assassination, doing nothing to deal with many terror-classified files that have been waiting on desks for too long, allowing corrupt elements to infiltrate the police force and assaulting homes without warrants…”
All this and the government is preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the army…!!.

The surge in violence has immediately influenced the political situation and in a seriously dangerous manner. The Accord Front and the UIA started exchanging accusations; the UIA is frankly accusing the Front and al-Mutlaq of standing behind terror attacks. In a press conference yesterday Jawad al-Maliki said that killings are targeting people according to their sectarian backgrounds and accused Sunni parties of feeding terror to gain political gains and apply pressure on the government. A security committee of the government is calling the coalition forces to offer “more freedom for Iraqi security forces in chasing terrorists and criminals”.

Amid this, negotiations have reached a standstill. Actually what we are hearing now is announcements and claims from this or that party but there are no more joint press conferences like we used to see till recently.

The Accord Front didn’t remain silent after those accusation, Tariq al-Hashimi and Adnan al-Dulaimi condemned the terror attacks “that target all Iraqis regardless of their sect or religion”.
Al-Hashimi said they want the new president to be a Sunni Arab and declared they-the Front-will not accept a renewal for certain UIA ministers “especially Bayan Jabor”.
The Sadrists-who we mentioned in a previous post that they were trying to ally with the Islamic Party-expressed their readiness to accept a president from the Accord Front and continued their support for Jafari’s nomination for PM.

The Kurdish politicians aren’t commenting but a press release for the PUK made it clear that the Kurds “are ready to cooperate with whoever believes in applying federalism in Iraq”. A statement that makes one think that no deal is final as of now.

Going back to the election results, the election commission admitted that fraud did take place in several regions “because many election officials were not well trained and many acted by their sectarian emotions but fraud wasn’t extensive” and Ferid Ayar told al-Sabah yesterday that “it was technically impossible to monitor all 33000 voting stations nationwide” announced that final results will be announced four days from now but that verified, certified results announcement will take 2-3 more weeks, putting in consideration that the international team of monitors said they’d need at least two weeks to finish their job.

A gathering of Iraqi civil society organizations announced yesterday that they intend to present the fraud evidence they collected to the investigation team.
Adnan Abdulaziz, a spokesman of the gathering revealed that they have counted more than 6000 incidents of fraud and electoral violations but they’re going to present only 1600 of them since those are the ones supported with strong evidence.
The violations included misuse of authority by government officials and security forces to campaign in favor of certain lists.
Abdulaziz added that they even have a video in which a convoy of police vehicles was used in the campaign of a certain list.

The election commission is also coming under attack from al-Mada paper, the respectable newspaper has published a lengthy report supported with names, dates and figures that accuses top commission officials of corruption and skimming million of dollars from the money that was allocated for media campaigns that were conducted shortly before the January and December election.

One example was a contract for producing and broadcasting public service TV clips with a total of 4,666,000 $. The contract was signed in Jan-3-2005, 27 days before the first election day! The contract didn’t specify the number of items produced, their broadcast time, the stations where they will appear on or the number of times each item is broadcast!

Another contract for printing posters with a total cost of 300,000 $ was signed and paid for without even mentioning the number of posters or their technical specifications in the contract. Moreover, the amount of the contract was cashed to the commission’s media officer and not to the print house as it should be.

I think this is the darkest image we have conveyed from Iraq in more than two years but it is a fact that it hasn’t been this bad in Iraq ever since the 9th of April 2003.
The general sense of the public opinion in Iraq is that our politicians who we trusted proved to be unqualified for the responsibility.
Everyone I meet says he feels betrayed by the politicians who keep frustrating us with their incompetence and internal fighting over power.
Iraqis expressed optimism before the election and you read that on opinion polls and we could feel it here in the streets but I’m sure that if those opinion polls are repeated, we’ll see that a great deal of that optimism is gone now.


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