[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Iraqi Elections?
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2004


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] The Iraqi elections scheduled for January are critical. They must take place, and they must take place on time. Only if this occurs will the United States have any chance of being able to declare some type of victory and exit the country in a reasonable period of time. The trouble with this analysis is that our enemies, now collectively being referred to as insurgents, are equally aware of it. They will do everything possible to prevent those elections from taking place.

A month ago, the prospects of the January elections taking place were between slim and none. Now suddenly, there are some reasons for optimism. Even as I write these words, I think about the expression: The light at the end of the tunnel may be a train bearing down on you.

But for a few minutes, let’s forget the daily gloom and doom scenarios that I’m treated to every morning in the New York Times and Washington Post. Let’s look at the glass half full for a change.

Five good signs. First, the elections in Afghanistan took place despite terrorist threats of disruption and more than ten million people voted. To be sure, a different country with different problems. Yet many similarities. Muslim. No history of democracy.

The lesson from Afghanistan is that millions of Afghan people wanted to elect their own leaders. It is reasonable to assume that millions of Iraqis feel the same way.

Second, some of those in Sadr’s Shiite militia are turning in arms for money to Iraqi and U.S. forces in Baghdad. At the same time, Sadr has indicated a willingness to participate in the political process. I don’t want to get too carried away on this point. Sadr has broken plenty of past commitments, and for every weapon cashed in several may be retained.

On the other hand, it may show that Sadr has come to his senses or at least, like Ayatollah Sistani, the leading Shiite cleric, taken a course in basic math. No Shiite has ever run the Iraqi government. Yet they are now sixty percent of the population. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the result of any reasonably free elections will be that the Shiites control the country. This will create other problems for the United States, but sufficient to each day is the evil thereof.

Third, there are indications that the insurgency in the Sunni stranglehold may be weakening or that the United States and Iraqi military are preparing to use whatever force it takes to “liberate” or to decimate Fallujah. Let’s face it. The Sunnis are between a rock and a hard place on the elections. They’ve had a grand old time running the country for decades. They may believe that they’re smarter and more enlightened than the Iraqi Shiites, but with twenty percent of the population, they won’t win many elections.

Anxious to avoid ending up as the minority in a Shiite dominated Iraq, many Sunnis, particularly Baathists, threw in their lot with Zarqawi and other non Iraqi radical Muslim terrorists. That is truly turning out to be a bargain with the devil.

The death and destruction being heaped on Sunni towns by U.S. and Iraqi forces is escalating. As it has, rifts have developed between Iraqi Sunnis and the foreigners.

Perhaps in hindsight, the United States made an error by not moving into Fallujah aggressively and instead surrendering control to the insurgents. At the time, Allawi and the Iraqi forces were not strong enough. However, the message we sent was “we’re not committed to fight for these areas.” The Baathists ignored the lesson of Saddam Hussein’s demise. He, too, never believed the United States would attack.

The dynamic changed after the October 1 U.S. and Iraqi assault on Samarra in the Sunni triangle. If anyone had doubts about it, the U.S. dispelled those with pinpoint bombing in Fallujah. Meantime, there has been tough talk from Allawi who generally does what he threatens.

As a result of all of this, some Iraqi insurgents have concluded the time to negotiate may be now. When you’re dead and your house is destroyed, it’s too late.

There may also be some saner Sunni minds who have concluded that participating in the election process may be better than boycotting. Even as a minority they may be able to have a role in the government.

Fourth, the Kurds are keeping quiet and strengthening their base. Excessive Kurdish demands could unglue the entire process. Everybody knows the Kurds are willing to be part of Iraq so long as they’re autonomous. Of course, that’s a contradiction. As long as the Kuds remain out of the spotlight, the elections can proceed and they may get what they want.

Fifth and finally, Allawi seems to be in good health. This strong man is the linchpin of the American effort. But this is the Middle East where so often an assassin’s bullet has changed history. Policymakers in the Pentagon should consider taking out a fifty billion dollar insurance policy on his life.