First Published: 2005-01-11

 
Washington stuck in assessing post-election Iraq
 

Some US analysts fear further turmoil in Iraq after elections, others say consequence of not holding them will be worse.

 

Middle East Online

Confusion

By Charlotte Raab - WASHINGTON

Some US analysts are worried Iraq could spiral down into further chaos and even civil war after its January 30 elections, but few here are promoting a delay in the vote.

Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, a leading voice in Congress on foreign affairs, said Washington was stuck between two difficult choices.

"We are left with a bad choice in holding elections and a worse choice of not holding it," Biden told CNN on Sunday.

Another member of Congress, Democratic Representative Adam Smith, said the elections must take place as scheduled.

"It would be, I think, a really bad sign if they didn't," Smith stressed.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell for his part said Iraq's elections will take place on January 30 as planned.

"We are all worried about what's going to happen after the elections, but the elections are a necessary next step," Powell told ABC television.

But some US analysts worry that a lack of security in the Sunni Muslim regions could keep voters in those areas away from the polls, allowing Shiites to dominate the elections and leading to more violence.

Two influential former US officials recently warned that Iraq could freefall into further violence and even civil war after the elections.

Former President George H.W. Bush's national security advisor, Brent Scowcroft, sparked a debate after he warned last week that the Iraqi elections "rather than turning out to be a promising turning point, have the great potential for deepening the conflict."

And former secretary of state Henry Kissinger told CNN on Sunday: "We will have to decide to what extent we want to be involved in what may become a civil war after the elections."

But Kissinger, who negotiated an end to the Vietnam War in the 1970s, said the elections were "now a necessity."

"The consequences of not having it would be much graver than any benefit we would get from delay," he said.

"We will then, hopefully as a united country, be able to deal with creating some political structure in Iraq which will permit a gradual withdrawal of American forces over a period of time," Kissinger added.

Few in the United States are calling for a delay in the vote, a postponement which leading Iraqi Sunnis have requested.

Larry Diamond, a former adviser to the now-defunct US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, wrote in The New York Times that "Iraq is about to reach a point of no return."

Diamond said a delay could be negotiated in exchange for the cooperation of the Sunni opposition.

"What is needed now is for all of Iraq's social and political stakeholders to sit down and talk," wrote Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. "The outlines of a compromise are visible."

Former president Bill Clinton's Middle East envoy, Dennis Ross, called for the creation of a "national reconciliation conference."

"If there's a desire to postpone the elections, it's going to have to come from within Iraq, it's going to have to come from some understanding worked out between an emerging Sunni group that is there and the Shiites," he told CBS television.

But he warned that delaying the vote poses enormous risks.

"We have a civil war guaranteed if the Shiites are the ones who become disaffected," Ross said.

"Right now, it's a Sunni-led insurgency. And it's very difficult as it is," he said.

"If you lose the Shiites as well, then you have not only a civil war, you have something that from an American standpoint will look a lot like Vietnam."

 

Iraq dismisses US call for Iranian-backed militias to 'go home'

Opposition calls on Iraqi Kurd leader to step down

IS ‘executed’ 116 suspected of Syria regime collaboration

Israel arrests 51 Palestinians for ‘terror-related’ crimes

Greening the Camps brings food and hope to refugees

UNICEF says 1,100 children malnourished in Syria’s Ghouta

UN says Yemen children in desperate need of aid

Orthodox Jews block Jerusalem entrance in protest

Six terror suspects arrested in Morocco

EU announces 106 million euros in aid for Sudan

French judges to rule on whether 'Jihad' is acceptable name

Saudi Aramco chief confirms IPO despite doubts

Lack of accountability hinders governing in Morocco, analysts say

Sudan editor convicted after Bashirs accused of graft

Russia’s Lavrov urges Iraq-Kurd dialogue

Kurds to arrest 11 Iraqis in response to similar Baghdad move

Car bomb attack kills 9 in south Yemen military base

Rouhani boasts about Iran’s greatness in region

Iraq unrest highlights long-standing political divisions

Bahrain temporarily frees female activist

Egypt court sentences 11 people to death for 'terrorism'

Israel police arrest 15 over anti Jewish-Arab dating campaign

Tillerson woos Gulf allies to curb Iran influence

Abadi, Sadr meet in Jordan

No clear US strategy in Syria after Raqqa liberation

Tillerson pushes to undercut Iran at landmark Saudi, Iraq meeting

Gulf share values plummet

US-backed forces capture key Syria oil field

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike