[Homestead] Sunnis made their bed---let them lie in it

tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Tue Feb 1 12:17:51 EST 2005

Shi'ites exult over voting; Sunnis receive no sympathy

By Borzou Daragahi

BAGHDAD — Sunni Arabs yesterday appeared shocked by the large turnout of 
Shi'ites and Kurds in Sunday's elections, with some anxiously looking 
for ways to bolster their representation in the new government that will 
emerge from them.
But many Shi'ites, triumphant after voting in high numbers in spite of 
terrorist threats, had a simple message for the Sunnis who stayed home: 
Tough luck.
Yazin al-Jabouri, a spokesman for the Sunni-led Homeland Party, said 
many people in Sunni parts of the country hadn't voted because the 
electoral commission had not sent enough ballot boxes and forms.

"They didn't think people were going to vote," he said, adding that he 
had sent a letter to the commission urging an extension in the balloting.
Nabeal Younis, a Sunni Arab university professor and frequent critic of 
the U.S. and interim governments, said he still considered the elections 
illegal "because it happened under the will of the United States, not 
because of the will of the Iraqi people."
"But," he said, "I have to respect the will of other people. We have to 
wait and see what they're going to do after the election."
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi called a press conference yesterday for unity 
among Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds.
"We are entering a new era of our history and all Iraqis — whether they 
voted or not — should stand side by side to build their future," he 
said. "Now is a suitable time for us to work together so that the whole 
world can watch the capabilities of this great country."
A U.S. diplomat echoed that attitude, saying it was important for the 
winners of the elections to reach out to Sunnis.
"This is an important 20 percent of the population, with a lot of the 
technological elite involved in it," said the diplomat, who briefed 
reporters on the condition of anonymity. "So it's not a group that you 
can afford to alienate."
But many in the newly triumphant Shi'ite community were in no mood 
yesterday for magnanimity.
"We carried our father three hours to get him to the polls," said 
Muthana Jaffar al-Tamimi, 30, a grocery store clerk and art school 
graduate in Baghdad's middle-class Shi'ite neighborhood of Karada.
The Sunni Arabs "could have made the process successful themselves," he 
said. "They could have gotten involved, but they didn't. We decided our 
destiny. They decided theirs."
He added, "It's their problem."
The American diplomat said the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had only 
preliminary figures on the turnout from various parts of the country.
"But we have good anecdotal information that Sunni participation was 
considerably lower than participation by other groups," the diplomat 
said, "especially in areas that have seen a good deal of violence and 
where intimidation is most easily carried out — not by major military 
actions but by neighborhood intimidation and threats."
The Sunni turnout was better in cities like Baqouba, which have a mixed 
population of Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs, he said. He attributed the low 
turnout in mainly Sunni cities like Tikrit to "intimidation, 
supplemented by boycott calls," and the absence of any obvious Sunni 
party or leader.
"But please remember that they had the chance to participate and 
purposely excluded themselves," the diplomat said.
The U.S. official expressed his gratitude to French diplomats, who, he 
said, have been reaching out to the leaders of Sunni factions.
But he had harsh words for Sunnis who have tried to cling to power 
through a violent insurgency rather than by participating in the 
democratic political process.
"They consistently don't want to go to the ballot box; they want to get 
into the game at the point of a gun," the diplomat said. "I doubt that 
has changed.
"They want to be at the table. They want power [but] they do not want 
power through the ballot box. They want power because they have a gun 
and they will kill you if you do not respect their authority."

More information about the Homestead mailing list