Iraqi elections

The New York Times reported:

A concerted wave of attacks struck Baghdad and other cities across the country on Sunday as Iraqis voted to elect a new parliament and possibly a new prime minister. Explosions reverberated across the capital moments before the polls opened and continued through the morning haze for the first hours of voting.

At least 38 people were killed and dozens more wounded in Baghdad alone by the time polls officially closed there, the Interior Ministry reported.

Insurgents in Iraq had vowed to disrupt the election, and the attacks appeared timed to frighten voters away from polling sites. If that were the intent, it did not succeed entirely.

By late morning the attacks — dozens of mortars, rockets and bombs — had tapered off, and Iraqis lined up to vote, many of them expressing anger and determination.

“Everyone went,” Maliq Bedawi, 45, who works at Baghdad International Airport, said as he waved his purple-stained finger. He stood outside the rubble of an apartment building that was struck and destroyed by what the police said was a Katyusha rocket. “They were defiant about what happened. Even people who didn’t want to vote before, they went after this rocket.”

Iraqis, he went on, “are not afraid of bombs anymore.”

The Washington Post reported:

As Obama administration officials tried in recent weeks to anticipate what could go wrong in Sunday’s elections in Iraq, they realized with some relief that they are largely powerless to control what happens.

In twice-daily meetings leading up to the vote and in a final preelection videoconference Thursday with the U.S. ambassador and military commander on the ground, officials contemplated the possibilities. Violence, intimidation or fraud might limit turnout or mar the legitimacy of the vote. Post-election political jockeying could delay the formation of a government for months and leave a dangerous power vacuum. Iran could create mischief, or worse.

But beneath the last-minute activity in Washington, officials have recognized that the electoral contest and its aftermath are in the hands of the Iraqis. Nearly seven years after U.S.-led troops took over Iraq, the administration appears content with its changing role there.

Committed to halving the contingent of nearly 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq by summer’s end as he escalates a red-hot war in Afghanistan, President Obama has set a high bar for intervening — or even acknowledging serious concern about the future.

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