Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Iraqi Election In T View: Vahal Of The Iraqi Vote Blog

The Mountains of Northern Iraq, Kurdistan By MG

Iraqi Kurd Vahal Abdulrahman has done an excellent job tracking and profiling this Historic Iraqi Election through his Iraqi Vote Blog, and has graciously consented to answer questions about what could be a Watershed Democratic Moment in the Troubled but Hopeful Nation of Iraq.

It's The Iraqi Election In T View: Vahal Of The Iraqi Vote Blog

In T View and Artwork By MG

MG: How is the News and Media in Iraq covering the Election?

Vahal: For the past at least three weeks, the election has been the single most important issue in the Iraqi media and the coverage has been outstanding.

MG: What party/list do you think Saddam would cast his vote for?

Vahal: That’s a tough question, I don’t think Saddam knows what it means to have choices, his elections used to ask Iraqis, “Do you want Saddam? Yes or No?” So this would be a very novel process for him.

MG: What Worries you about this Election?

Vahal: While it is unlikely, the matter that worries me the most is if the United Iraqi Alliance got enough votes to form a government on its own without a coalition, in which case, we are likely to see the country become increasingly more Islamist.

MG: The Iraqi Expat 2005 Election Voting Experience: Can you share your experience as an Iraqi Expatriate casting his vote, thousand of
miles away from the motherland?

Vahal: I haven’t voted yet, but I plan on voting the morning of the 15th. I waited until the 15th for two reasons, first I wanted to vote on the same day all Iraqis voted and secondly, I wanted to cast my vote with my father who will be in town that day.

MG: Will there be many Dead Iraqis voting in the election? Or many Live Iranians - Do you see a lot of Fraud happening with the election?

Vahal: Undoubtedly there will be some voter fraud, however, I hope the fraud will be balanced with the large turnout that is expected to occur.

MG: What's the latest information on the New York Times report of Iran smuggling forged ballots in to Iraq by tanker truck?

Vahal: Officials from the Ministry of Interior have denied the allegations. But keep in mind that even if that particular incident was false, there will still be voter fraud, I just hope that it will be minimal and that it will not have a great impact on the results.

MG: And How strongly will the Iranians try to influence this election?

Vahal: They will try very hard, however, they realize that there are many people in Iraq who are not crazy about their meddling, not to mention that Iraq has a free and aggressive media that will simply expose them and their allies if need be.

MG: Can Democracy really blossom in Iraq, when the two main Shia Parties and likely leaders
of the new government: SCRI and DAWA have Terrorist Origins?

According to
ex-CIA Agent Bob Baier, who dealt with DAWA back in the 1980s, they were involved in the bombing of the US Embassies in Beiruit and Kuwait.

And the other main Shia party SCIRI, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, according to a 1984 Washington Post story, was put together
by the Ayatollah Khomeni, as an agglomeration of four different terrorist groups for the express purpose of gaining control of Iraq.

Vahal: Iraq cannot become a secular democracy if al-Da’awa and SCIRI are the only ruling parties in the next government, however, that is unlikely to happen. As for the terrorist origins, I want your readers to remember that both of these parties sacrificed a lot during the time when they were anti-Saddam forces. You always see me criticize these religious parties and I will continue to do that, but believe me, they, especially al-Da’wa were very significant oppositionists against the tyrannical Ba’ath regime, and thousands of young Shi’a men were executed for having ties to these parties. Again, the thought of a United Iraqi Alliance of which both SCIRI and Da’awa are part, winning enough votes to form a government on their own scares me, but I don’t think it will happen.

MG: So, have the American Citizens given
over $200 Billions of their Tax Dollars to hand
over Iraq to American-Hating, Iran and Islamo-Fascism/terrorist-supporting groups?

Vahal: No, most Iraqis are grateful for the efforts of the men and women of the United States armed forces. That is why it is crucial that the U.S. stays the course in Iraq and ensures that those who are calling for the murder of U.S. soldiers have no say in the New Iraq. As for Iraq being handed over to Iran, that’s an exaggerated claim and Iran’s efforts will ultimately fail because of the differences between the two countries. Let me give you an example, Iran’s president, Ahmadinajad is calling for the removal of Israel, while Iraq’s Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Ja’afari has just said that he doesn’t rule out normalizing relations with Israel.

MG: What are your Family and Friends back
in Iraq saying about the Election? Are they eager
to participate and planning to vote?

Vahal: Well they’re very excited about the elections and, like most Iraqis, they are eager to see a change in Baghdad politics. This government has miserably failed at providing the Iraqis with security and other public services, so to have a chance to try to change things is absolutely exciting.

MG: There's been a lot of complaints originating from Kurdistan/Northern Iraq about the stranglehold the two parties -- KDP & PUK -- have over the political process. Will this turn the Kurds off from Voting? Could there be a protest vote from them, selecting any lists but the Kurdish one?

Vahal: While there are some in Kurdistan who have expressed their dissatisfaction toward the status quo, the overwhelming majority realize that
a strong presence of Kurdish representatives in Baghdad will help the Kurds in meeting their demands, so like the last election, I anticipate that most Kurds will vote for the Kurdistan Alliance (730) to simply affirm their identity as a separate group from the rest of Iraq, very little has changed in Kurdistan since last January.

MG: Will this be the Last Election the Kurds of Iraq participate in before forming their own Nation?

Vahal: That is a tough question considering the next elections will not be held until 2009. I don’t think the Kurds will opt for independence that quickly and if things in Iraq turn out to be okay, independence may not happen at all.

MG: Dr. Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqi Nationalist List, #731 and formely the Interim Prime Minister of Iraq: Do you think the memory of the Corruption that plagued his administration will hurt his list's chances of obtaining the majority vote?

Vahal: Well I hope that Iraqis have not forgotten about the corruption of that brief term over which Allawi presided. But what you have to remember is that the Ja’afari government wasn’t any better, things didn’t improve and in the case of security, they worsened. Allawi is running on a very clever platform, that of appearing as a tough leader who can take on the terrorists and that will help him get votes, but certainly nowhere near a majority.

MG: Vahal, can Islam and Democracy coexist? Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch thinks that Iraq
"will always be under pressure from the adherents of political Islam, and will have to buy its continued existence via a mixture of force and concessions." In other words, True Democracy won't occur in Iraq, because there will be external forces acting on and modifying the Political Structure. Are you more optimistic than Spencer?

Vahal: With all due respect to Mr. Robert Spencer, I would like him to have a look at the lists that are running in the elections, so many of them are led by liberal democrats. Sure we will always have a battle between secular liberals and Islamists, but that battle is being fought by ballots today in Iraq. So I don’t know how to answer your question about “true democracy,” because I don’t know what that means, but it looks like we’re going to have our own democracy where there is respect for the rule of law and human rights. We are striving to build an Iraq that protects minority rights, an Iraq where freedom of religion, _expression, press are rights that cannot be taken away and an Iraq where there is gender equality. But no, it will not be Jeffersonian democracy.

MG: Final Question, Vahal, and Thanks Very Much for a Nice Election T View: Can you tell us
who you voted for or is it a secret?

Vahal: If you don’t mind, I would like to not answer that. However, know that I am a liberal democrat, a secular humanist, I firmly believe in de-Ba’athification and I am committed to efforts at memorializing Saddam’s decades of horror, so if there’s anyone on the ballot with the a similar platform and set of objectives, then I will vote for him or her.

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