About that election — I gotta say, it looks like it went better than I thought it would. The final results won’t be in for another week or two, but the preliminary indications look solid in terms of turnout, and I’m glad for that.
In retrospect, I should have specified the necessary turnout for each major ethnic segment of Iraq; the biggest problem I see going forward is that the Sunnis stayed away in droves. I’m hearing 20% turnout. That rekindles my worries about civil war in Iraq; a lot depends on whether or not any Sunni parties are included in the governing coalition. No party won a 2/3rds majority, which is the majority needed in the National Assembly to elect a President, so there will be a coalition. Who will the members be? That’s the big question.
Meanwhile, Turkey is still nervous about the Kurds. If the coalition winds up including the major Kurdish party, chances are that the price will be more Kurdish autonomy. Turkey would really hate that.
And, finally, it’s worth remembering that Sistani continues to be the big winner in Iraqi politics. He’s the reason they’re having elections now, rather than a complex series of regional caucuses out of which would come a constitution. Also, the Shia alliance is endorsed by him personally. He’s clearly the key political figure in Iraq at this point. Hope he stays healthy.