Saturday, December 24, 2005

20,000 Protest Election Fraud in Iraq

"There was a story floating around last week that a "tanker" full of "hundreds of thousands" of forged ballots coming from Iran was discovered and confiscated at the border, with the names but not the rest of the ballots filled in. This story, which has fed Sunni Arab discontent, makes no sense. First of all, you can't get hundreds of thousands of ballots on one truck, even a tanker. Paper is bulky. How would Iran have a list of plausible Iraqi voters? Iranians mostly print in nasta'liq script, not the naskh favored in the Arab world, and mostly use Persian, not Arabic. While Iranian printers could pull off such a thing, you have to ask, why? If you were going to print fake Arabic ballots for Iraq, why not just do it in Basra? It is not as if the United Iraqi Alliance, the presumed beneficiary of the alleged forgeries, does not control Iraqi printing presses in areas secure enough for it to commit fraud if it liked. I don't find the story plausible, but it appears that the US military has actually arrested Fazel "Abu Tayyib" Jasim, a provincial council member of Kut and a member of the Shiite Badr Organization (the paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq), implicating him in the affair. I'd like to see the truck and the ballots on television. One tanker, or even a fleet of them, couldn't affect centrally an election with millions of voters.

In any case, these actions and statements of the US military are unlikely to overturn the election results, which probably give the religious Shiites control of parliament. But they could further destabilize Iraq, if that is possible."
Juan Cole


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