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A letter from Arabic Sunni for the New Year

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I recieved this letter through a friend. Read it and think about some (may be) Sunni Arab mentalities.

 

 

New Year and Elections...

 

We spent New Year at home (like last year). It was a very small family gathering and E. and I tried to make it as festive as possible, under the circumstances. We agreed, amongst ourselves in the area, to have the generator turned on from 10 pm until 2 am so we could ride out 2004 on a wave of electricity.

 

The good part of the evening consisted of food. Food is such a central issue for an Iraqi occasion- be it happy or sad. We end up discussing the food before anything else. For us, it was just some traditional Iraqi food and some junk food like pop-corn, corn chips, and lots of candy.

 

We sat watching celebrations from different parts of the world. Seeing the fireworks, lights, droves of laughing and singing people really emphasizes our current situation. It feels like we are kind of standing still while the world is passing us by. It really is difficult to believe that come April, two years will have passed on the war and occupation. On most days, an hour feels like ten and yet, at the same time, it becomes increasingly difficult to get a good sense of passing time. I guess that is because we measure time with development and since things seem to be deteriorating in many ways, it feels almost as if we're going backwards, not forwards.

 

On the other hand, the whole tsunami/earthquake crisis also had a dampening affect on celebrations this year. It is a tragedy that will haunt the area for decades. To lose so many people so swiftly and violently is horrific. Watching all that chaos and death kind of makes you feel that maybe Baghdad isn't the absolute worse place to be.

 

We had our own fireworks as we began the New Year countdown. At around 10 minutes to 2005, the house shook with three colossal explosions not too far away. It came as something of a surprise at that particular moment and my cousin's two young daughters, after the initial fright, started giggling uncontrollably. E. clapped his hands and began to yell, "Yeah- FIREWORKS!! Goodbye 2004!!", which was followed by a sort of impromptu dance by the kids.

 

The elections are set for the 29th. It's an interesting situation. The different sects and factions just can't seem to agree. Sunni Arabs are going to boycott elections. It's not about religion or fatwas or any of that so much as the principle of holding elections while you are under occupation. People don't really sense that this is the first stepping stone to democracy as western media is implying. Many people sense that this is just the final act of a really bad play. It's the tying of the ribbon on the "democracy parcel" we've been handed. It's being stuck with an occupation government that has been labeled 'legitimate' through elections.

 

We're being bombarded with cute Iraqi commercials of happy Iraqi families preparing to vote. Signs and billboards remind us that the elections are getting closer...

 

Can you just imagine what our history books are going to look like 20 years from now?

 

"The first democratic elections were held in Iraq on January 29, 2005 under the ever-watchful collective eye of the occupation forces, headed by the United States of America. Troops in tanks watched as swarms of warm, fuzzy Iraqis headed for the ballot boxes to select one of the American-approved candidates..."

 

It won't look good.

 

There are several problems. The first is the fact that, technically, we don't know the candidates. We know the principal heads of the lists but we don't know who exactly will be running. It really is confusing. They aren't making the lists public because they are afraid the candidates will be assassinated.

 

Another problem is the selling of ballots. We're getting our ballots through the people who give out the food rations in the varying areas. The whole family is registered with this person(s) and the ages of the varying family members are known. Many, many, many people are not going to vote. Some of those people are selling their voting cards for up to $400. The word on the street is that these ballots are being bought by people coming in from Iran. They will purchase the ballots, make false IDs (which is ridiculously easy these days) and vote for SCIRI or Daawa candidates. Sunnis are receiving their ballots although they don't intend to vote, just so that they won't be sold.

 

Yet another issue is the fact that on all the voting cards, the gender of the voter, regardless of sex, is labeled "male". Now, call me insane, but I found this slightly disturbing. Why was that done? Was it some sort of a mistake? Why is the sex on the card anyway? What difference does it make? There are some theories about this. Some are saying that many of the more religiously inclined families won't want their womenfolk voting so it might be permissible for the head of the family to take the women's ID and her ballot and do the voting for her. Another theory is that this 'mistake' will make things easier for people making fake IDs to vote in place of females.

 

All of this has given the coming elections a sort of sinister cloak. There is too much mystery involved and too little transparency. It is more than a little bit worrisome.

 

American politicians seem to be very confident that Iraq is going to come out of these elections with a secular government. How is that going to happen when many Shia Iraqis are being driven to vote with various fatwas from Sistani and gang? Sistani and some others of Iranian inclination came out with fatwas claiming that non-voters will burn in the hottest fires of the underworld for an eternity if they don't vote (I'm wondering- was this a fatwa borrowed from right-wing Bushies during the American elections?). So someone fuelled with a scorching fatwa like that one- how will they vote? Secular? Yeah, right.

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Guest Mustefser

Very intersting!

Indeed the writer of this letter was reflecting a very realistic Iraqi secular example.. Some one who try very hard to catch with the rest of the world despite of all the pain that is caused by violance today, and is no different to any other in having his/her dreams. Most Iraqis that I had contacted shared same experiences on the new year eve.. Most of them asked, why the whole world is celebrating and only Iraqis never be allwed to dream over more than fourty years.!

 

As for thepoints that he raised and complained about regarding the ellections, I affraid to find it as a typical ones that usually heard from any anti ellection persons . No difference of being secular or religious BLN's extreemist..

Before putting my remarks on the points, I repeat a question that I asked my self " how it is possible for such intellectuals to be so primitives ?". But I always convinced with my mom saying on such cases " Like something and talk, hate and talk".. It is a matter of like and hate not a matter of logic and fool..That is the problem of most of us, including myself.

So , have fun with remarks from some one who LIKEs

 

The elections are set for the 29th. It's an interesting situation. The different sects and factions just can't seem to agree. Sunni Arabs are going to boycott elections
.

Indeed this is not correct.. Major Sunni Arab parties already submitted thier slats, Pachachi, Alyawer, Islamic party, Chaderchee..etc.. Though they started to push for postponing under the security reasons but never boycotted. Even the Islamic committe, is not boycotting , they are not participating in the slates, they never asked thier follwers to boycott.. On the other hand some major Shia such as Moqtada Alsader is not participating , yet not bycotting. The only who boycott are the Islamic salafee extreemists and the Saddamists.

 

It's not about religion or fatwas or any of that so much as the principle of holding elections while you are under occupation. People don't really sense that this is the first stepping stone to democracy as western media is implying. Many people sense that this is just the final act of a really bad play. It's the tying of the ribbon on the "democracy parcel" we've been handed. It's being stuck with an occupation government that has been labeled 'legitimate' through elections.

 

I don't know which people the writer is reffering to. I know that there is more than 7000 candidates who broke the fear of being killed by the terrorists .. Yes for those who are lossing this battel against democracy they are indeed thinking that this is a final step. That is why BLN had risked his rest in his unground cage to issue a fatwa of legitamising the killing any voter. Yes there are some who feel that ellection might legitimise the political facts in Iraq, but these fears will dye out one they experienced that democracy is not the rule of majority, it is a real protection of minority..

We're being bombarded with cute Iraqi commercials of happy Iraqi families preparing to vote. Signs and billboards remind us that the elections are getting closer
...

 

Most of Iraqi "those who like " expressed so deep worrines that the ellection might be stolen from them.. Most of them when aksed to whom you will vote, the reply is " not important to whom, it is important to vote"! Based on my contacts inside and outside Iraq, I assume that there is today a huge momentum for having ellection on time , they fear the risk of losing this unique opportunity.. Some westren media used to comment on this as being the will of Shia to grasp power.. The question is why Kurds , Turks, Christians, Yazeedees are sharing this deep concern? Will the Shia be less after six months?

 

Can you just imagine what our history books are going to look like 20 years from now?

 

"The first democratic elections were held in Iraq on January 29, 2005 under the ever-watchful collective eye of the occupation forces, headed by the United States of America. Troops in tanks watched as swarms of warm, fuzzy Iraqis headed for the ballot boxes to select one of the American-approved candidates..."

 

It won't look good.

 

 

If this concern is the real one, then I would make the wrtiter comfort.. History books never mentioned that the first ellection in Iraq , eighty years ago, was under the British occupation and only less that 20% had participated.

Same to so many other as in Syria, LIbanon, egypt .. Not mentioning those kings and emeers who was appointed by occupation powers after WW1.

 

There are several problems. The first is the fact that, technically, we don't know the candidates. We know the principal heads of the lists but we don't know who exactly will be running. It really is confusing. They aren't making the lists public because they are afraid the candidates will be assassinated.

 

The main names were already populatized.. It is only for those minor figures who don't have enough protection..This was set in order to protect them, as it is impossible strictly guard 7000 candidats, also to let them move freely in their ellection tours.. On the other hand the voting is for the slate not for the members, so why it matters to know the minor members? is it another propagada to have the list so to make the life of the killers easier?

 

Another problem is the selling of ballots. We're getting our ballots through the people who give out the food rations in the varying areas. The whole family is registered with this person(s) and the ages of the varying family members are known. Many, many, many people are not going to vote. Some of those people are selling their voting cards for up to $400. The word on the street is that these ballots are being bought by people coming in from Iran. They will purchase the ballots, make false IDs (which is ridiculously easy these days) and vote for SCIRI or Daawa candidates. Sunnis are receiving their ballots although they don't intend to vote, just so that they won't be sold.

 

This is funniest part of it.. Indeed there is no ballot to be sold.. What was distributed by the committe was a notification of the information to each family to verify .. Those who found mistakes need to visit the voting centers to ask for correction, otherwise just through it away!!. That is including the issue of spelling and sex and others that the writer is complaining about. Some rummers spreaded out that there is some one who is buying these notification papers at 100 dollars per family.. That is is why some distributor agents were claimed at the begining that they can't delivare them to beneficiaries. They hopped to sell them to a buyer, then when the issue was clerified that these have no real value as ballots, no one kept talking about it.. The real ballots are not distributted but kept in the centers.

As for who is buying if any foolish would, I don't understand how A shia majority would pay so much money ? I understand some minorities might try their best to enlarge their share , but not majoprity..

The writer might missed the fact that in the food list database. all the correct info of gender and age is avaialble.. This info is verified by the UN food program comitte which has copy since before Saddam fall. It is a firm restriction by the ellection commitee that vote is carried in person. Even registeration for outside Iraqi voter should be done in person. some thing that a lot of Iraqis complained about, as they need to do a long trip to the very limited centers around the world , one for registering and other for voting. There is no registeration needed for iside , as all those who are on the UN food program are automatically registerd.

 

Yet another issue is the fact that on all the voting cards, the gender of the voter, regardless of sex, is labeled "male". Now, call me insane, but I found this slightly disturbing. Why was that done? Was it some sort of a mistake? Why is the sex on the card anyway? What difference does it make? There are some theories about this. Some are saying that many of the more religiously inclined families won't want their womenfolk voting so it might be permissible for the head of the family to take the women's ID and her ballot and do the voting for her. Another theory is that this 'mistake' will make things easier for people making fake IDs to vote in place of females.

 

As above.

American politicians seem to be very confident that Iraq is going to come out of these elections with a secular government. How is that going to happen when many Shia Iraqis are being driven to vote with various fatwas from Sistani and gang? Sistani and some others of Iranian inclination came out with fatwas claiming that non-voters will burn in the hottest fires of the underworld for an eternity if they don't vote (I'm wondering- was this a fatwa borrowed from right-wing Bushies during the American elections?). So someone fuelled with a scorching fatwa like that one- how will they vote? Secular? Yeah, right.

 

While there is no fatwa of going to badWord if not participating, as the writer put, there is a fatwa to be killed if voting.. However the writer failed to comment on the later.. He is more concerned by a religious demand that asked Iraqis to use their right of determining their destiny and make this as a religious duty..

He also failed to understand that the demand is not to vote for certain slate, but to be up to the moment and choose!

At least Systani , that the writer is considering as non Iraqi, is living in Iraq over the last fifty years and shared the poor Iraqis their sufferings.. What about Ben laden who never visited Iraq yet issued a fatwa that agree with the writer's points!!

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Guest Guest_tajer

Comments from inside Iraq on same letter

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

 

IRAQ THE MODEL

Thursday, January 06, 2005

 

Elections...Elections

With the terrorist attacks on the Iraqi people and their ambitions being escalated, the electoral campaigns increase all over Iraq, and more efforts focused on making this unique process succeed can be seen.

We've noticed in the last week an increase in the intensity of attacks on the ING and IP forces in an attempt to stop them from doing their duty in providing the required level of security to protect the elections and the voters.

It's been announced that 40 brigades from the Iraqi armed forces are going to be deployed to protect the elections centers through out the country in cooperation with the MNF.

 

During my last tour in the north I saw a lot of electoral education activities as well as campaigns run by individual candidates, individual parties or alliances; seminars, conferences and posters are all over the place. Some candidates decided to post their pictures in the streets while other parties preferred to keep a relatively low profile for their candidates and displayed only the number of the list and the political program of the list for security considerations in some of the tension spots.

 

Day by day, people get more involved in the process and dedicate more of their attention and time to follow the news and discuss the updates and events that are related to the elections and involved parties.

One person I met in Erbil said that he wasn't going to vote for any of the two major Kurdish parties until they decided to unite their lists and form an alliance. He said "it's obvious now that they're not thinking about shallow partisan interests. They're thinking more about the country's interests".

I learnt that the "Kurdish labor party" which was calling for an independent Kurdish state decided not to join the elections but I didn't see that the people in the streets are interested about this as this party is a small one with little impact.

 

In Kirkuk which is considered a sensitive point for many parties because of the mosaic formation of the population (Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Christians) the situation is different and everyone is trying to prove that he's the best and the more representative and I could sense that there's an alliance between the Arabs and the Turkmen to balance forces with the strong Kurdish alliance. Many Kurds have demanded to postpone the elections of the city board as they felt that it's not easy to compete with the Arabic-Turkmen alliance. Still, this demand didn't include the general elections as Iraq is considered one electoral region and local alliances that are limited to a certain spot will not have an effect on the big picture.

 

In the south, the tribes decided to contribute to the IP and the army efforts in protecting the electoral centers within their regions and this was agreed on after a meeting for the higher commission with the tribes' heads in Hilla and Nasiriyah.

There are also news coming out about a curfew for vehicles on elections day and the cell phones network as well as regular phones are supposed to cease working few days before the 30th of Jan.

 

Most of the parties are focusing now on the universities in an attempt to win the students votes and they're holding lectures and events in the universities to advertise for their platforms and lists.

In the city of Najaf, the Hawza suspended the activities of its school and asked the students to stop working on their researches and head to the provinces to encourage the people to vote.

 

The higher commission will grant all candidates a chance to speak through the media (papers, TV and radio) for a certain time for free and has asked the interested candidates to contact its offices to enlist their names on the broadcast schedule that is going to be coordinated with the Iraqi media.

 

Yesterday I received e mails from some of the readers asking for my opinion on a piece that was published few days ago on the Baghdad Burning blog, talking about the voters' registrations forms being sold (for 400$/form) to outsiders coming from Iran to use these forms to give false votes to She'at religious parties:

 

"Another problem is the selling of ballots. We're getting our ballots through the people who give out the food rations in the varying areas. The whole family is registered with this person(s) and the ages of the varying family members are known. Many, many, many people are not going to vote. Some of those people are selling their voting cards for up to $400. The word on the street is that these ballots are being bought by people coming in from Iran. They will purchase the ballots, make false IDs (which is ridiculously easy these days) and vote for SCIRI or Daawa candidates. Sunnis are receiving their ballots although they don't intend to vote, just so that they won't be sold"

 

I have heard of this stupid rumor months ago and in different ways too; actually I heard the same story but with the accusation directed to the Kurds instead of the Iranians.

 

I just want to clarify that these forms are used only to allow the voters to verify the accuracy of the information that are stored in the database and to correct mistakes if present and they shall be discarded after that. And any corrections made by the voter to this form will be matched with the information that exists in the database, i.e. this form is used to check for TYPOS AND MISSING DATA, not to build the database.

I think that our friend here has never seen one of those forms and that's why she doesn't know the exact function of them.

 

The interesting point is that river bend mentioned that the Sunnis have decided to boycott the elections and therefore keeping the forms so that they're not sold to the Iranians and here I wonder: who's selling to whom?

 

Would the Sunni sell the forms to the She'at? This contradicts any logical theory. If they Sunni decided to keep the forms because they fear that they would be sold to the She'at, would the Sunni sell the forms to Iran so that Iran buys false votes for the She'at!!??

Or would the Turkmen sell the forms to the Kurds?

Or would the liberals sell their forms to the radical Islamists?

I personally haven't seen or heard of anyone selling or buying these papers. Neither did any of my friends, family or anyone I know.

 

This is simply a rumor created and spread by terror groups or the "mukhabarat" of Saddam to convince people that the elections are not going to be fair and that it's useless to take the risk and time to vote.

 

I have always said that conspiracy theorists would contradict themselves as soon as they go further with their "analysis". One time they say that America has everything planned since the first day and then they come back and say that Iran can change the results of the elections!

 

River bend's biggest concern was:

"The first democratic elections were held in Iraq on January 29, 2005 under the ever-watchful collective eye of the occupation forces, headed by the United States of America. Troops in tanks watched as swarms of warm, fuzzy Iraqis headed for the ballot boxes to select one of the American-approved candidates...."

 

According to her theory, it seems that America succeeded in creating over 200 parties and convincing over 7200 people to register themselves as candidates!

Is it logical in anyway that the communists, radical Islamists, liberals, moderate Islamists, Arab nationalists, Kurds and Turkmen and a ton more of political currents are all "America's candidates"??

 

The people have chosen to hold the elections and our friends have decided to support the people in this choice and this combination is stronger than those who stand against the elections in order to keep an unelected government so that the have an excuse to fight it and keep it weak.

They know that the formation of an elected government means that the majority of Iraqis will be supporting this government and this will make it even harder for the terrorists to fight it because they will be fighting legitimacy itself and the nation itself.

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