If Reuters – the gang that all but pioneered applying the word “insurgents” to the religious fanatics and fascist thugs who wish to take over Iraq – says the Iraqi election is “unexpect[ly] calm,” then it must indeed by calm.
In unexpected calm, millions of Iraqis voted on Saturday in a referendum on a new constitution that is designed to reshape the country after Saddam Hussein but which many fear may tear it further apart.
Insurgents fought gunbattles with Iraqi and U.S. forces in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, but throughout the capital and much of the rest of the country, voting appeared to go smoothly and securely, with polls set to close at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT).
More than 15.5 million Iraqis were eligible to vote in the referendum, which asked them to say “Yes” or “No” to a new draft constitution proposed by parliament, a body dominated by Shi’ite Muslims and ethnic Kurds. Most Sunni Arabs shunned the ballot in January that elected the assembly.
Many Sunnis were turning out this time, however. Sunni insurgents threatened to attack the vote, but while mortars landed near a polling station in Baghdad, and several roadside bombs went off around the city and elsewhere, there was much less violence than the U.S. military said might be possible.
It was in marked contrast to the elections in January, when guerrillas carried out more than a hundred attacks on the day, including suicide bombings, killing at least 40 people.
Among the Sunnis turning out to vote was my good friend Omar (and PJMedia’s Man in Baghdad!) of Iraq the Model:
Probably the worst thing today is the intense heat which was a little over 100f but that didn’t stop the crowds from walking in the sun to the voting stations, I personally had to walk nearly 4 miles in total but it’s definitely worth the effort.
The presence of Iraqi army and police units is heavier than it was in January elections and I also noticed that no multinational forces were on the streets and the only sign for their presence was the helicopters that patrolled the skies.
The turnout in our district looks qute good and actually going to the voting office was a good opportunity to meet some friends I haven’t seen in months.
I met one friend on the way and when I asked him what would his vote be he said that he hasn’t decided yet “if I voted yes I would be approving some articles that I don’t agree with and if I voted no we would go back to where we started from…” he said and that was really refreshing because this guy who used to believe in conspiracy theories and stuff like “what America wants is what’s going to happen” now feels that his vote can make a difference.
Bravo to Omar and congratulations on a great day in the history of your country! (Look for profiles of the Fahdlil brothers – Omar and Mohammed – on the PJMedia site soon.) BTW, the photo of the celebrating voters above is by the Iraqi blogger Sooni. Look for others on his site.