In the current state of violence in Iraq, will the elections being held Sunday prove to be valid? A US General has said the lack of security could deter many voters in four of Iraq’s 18 provinces that hold nearly a quarter of its population.
The security state of Iraq is far worse than the US Government had predicted it would be in time for the elections. In October Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had publicly declared, “The Iraqi security force will number 125,000 by the end of the year. There will be 145,000 security forces by February, and 200,000 by the time of the permanent election.” Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware said he’d warned her “earlier about the need to level with the American people. When you say,” he explained to Rice, “we have 200,000 trained security forces…the impression of the average American is we’ve actually trained up people who can do the job.” And by “people,” we mean “Iraqis.” How many Iraqis, Biden queried Rice, “do you think are trained who can shoot straight, kill and stand their ground? I don’t mean in a uniform. I mean real, live guys.” Rice replied: “The number right now is somewhere over 120,000.” “If you speak to the folks on the ground,” Biden snapped back, referring to US Gen. Petraeus and armed forces personnel, “they don’t think there’s more than 4,000 actually trained Iraqi forces. I strongly urge you to pick up the phone or go see these folks.”
I’m quite impressed with the extraordinary measures they have taken in Iraq to ensure the maximum amount of voters will turn out. Some of the measures that will be taken over a 3-day period include a dusk-to-dawn curfew, closing down the borders, shutting down Baghdad International Airport, and banning vehicles without permits from the roads.
Iraqi electoral officials have said as many as 120 international monitors will be in Iraq to help supervise the election, and the US and British embassies would provide staff to act as monitors, as would the Canadian, German and Romanian embassies. There will also be monitors from Indonesia, Mexico, Panama and Albania.
After the election, the big question will be how long it will be before the US withdrawls the majority of their troops, a question US Officials have failed to answer up until now.
Sources: BBC.co.uk, CNN.com, ArabNews.com