Saturday, September 21, 2013

The KRG votes, Baghdad explodes

From the KDP, that's a photo of a poll worker helping a man with his vote.  Elections took place in nothern Iraq today.  Prashant Rao is in the KRG.  He's covering the provincial elections there for AFP and he Tweeted the following today:

  1. A Kurdish voter casts his ballot during the Iraqi region's parliamentary elections

  1. A Kurdish woman shows her ink-stained finger, indicating she voted in the Iraqi region's elections

The things journos dream of. RT : I dream of an election were you'd dip the middle finger in ink. Imagine the photo gallery

While wandering around a polling centre in Arbil, I randomly met in person for the first time. Totally out of nowhere.
Polls due to close shortly in Iraqi Kurdish regional parliamentary elections.

  1. Counting has begun after a day of voting in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region - video

14 of Iraq's provinces already voted (in April and July).  A 15th wasn't allowed to vote (Kirkuk).  That leaves the three provinces which make up the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Dahuk).    Early voting -- for the security forces -- took place Thursday.  The two main political parties in the KRG are the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.  The head of the PUK is Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the head of the KDP is KRG President Massoud Barzani.  The CIA-backed Goran (or "Change") party emerged recently, post-invasion.  It's a third party.

 Yesterday,  Prashant Rao (AFP) reported that, despite this, the PUK has been using Talbani's image in various campaign materials::

The struggles facing Jalal Talabani’s bloc, which for decades has held a duopoly on power in the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, could prove instructive for parties across the country. 
Many of them, like his bloc, remain dependent on personalities rather than policies, ahead of national elections due in less than a year.
Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has faced tough competition from a breakaway faction as well as Islamist and Communist groupings in its home base of Sulaimaniyah ahead of the three-province Kurdish region’s September 21 parliamentary election."

And of course, Jalal Talbani has not been in Iraq this year at all.   Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

In Friday's snapshot, I offered:

If the PUK does less well than in 2009, there will be complaining.  If the PUK does really bad, there will be outrage.   The one who will face the most criticism may be First Lady of Iraq Hero Ibrahim Ahmed who has been reluctant to heed the advice of PUK leaders and assume the presidency in her husband's absence.  Could she?  Yes.  In the plan they outlined, Hero would not be "President Hero," she would be carrying out the will of her husband while he remains in Germany.  She would be voting by proxy.  She has refused that (just as she refused to take over the position outright) arguing that to do so would leave the impression that Jalal was unable to do his job.
She's correct people would assume that.  But Jalal has now been out of the country for nine months.  Iraq's been without a president for nine months.  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's recent revelation that he was refused when he attempted to visit Jalal in the hospital last April does not bode well for Jalal's health or his stature.  And it really makes the point for the posters in Arabic social media who compared the May 18th photos of 'healthy' Jalal to Weekend At Bernies. (In Weekend At Bernies, two men use Bernie's corpse to pretend Bernie's still alive.) If  Hero has the most to lose in tomorrow's vote, the one with the most to gain from the PUK suffering a big loss is Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari who has wanted to grab the Iraqi presidency for some time and attempted a move right after Jalal's stroke but was rebuffed by those in party leadership loyal to Jalal and Hero.

 An e-mail came in on that saying that I'm supposed to be against handicapping the race.  I am.  That's not what that is.

I made no prediction as to who would win.  It turns out that Goran did great. The PUK did awful.

I didn't say that would happen.  I didn't make predictions about how the vote would go.  I did say if the PUK did poorly, blame would be placed and that the obvious target would be the First Lady.

Handicapping is when the press, for example, starts saying Nouri's going to win, Nouri's going to win, Nouri's going to win.  What I did was state if the PUK did poorly (and I didn't state they would), there would be fall out.

Rudaw breaks down the vote:

  • KDP 52.36 % | 673,341
  • Gorran 17.73 % | 228,015
  • PUK 13.9 % | 178,745
  • Yekgrtu 8.04 % | 103,382
  • Komall 5.41 % | 69,612
  • Other 2.55 % | 32,787

  • Prashant Rao also re-Tweeted.

    1. HUGE official Kurdistan parl elex turnout figures - 93% for security forces vote, 73.9% for main poll.

     Some other Tweets on the KRG elections today.
    1. There was no room for cheating in counting. People should respect whatever the results.
    2. While initial counting, officials and party observers were arguing for more than 10-15min over one case of invalid votes.
    3. the results have not been announced yet. Dont know why political entities haven't been able to calculate their votes so far
    4. Text from President Talabani: "WTF is going on Masoud?" Not replying.
    5. I am so anxious to hear the final count of however, I think we all know who won and how.
    6. What kind of mind would do a celebration with gunfire? why people should get injured for unnecessary reason?
    7. Kurdistan Democratic Party won more than 810000 votes which means 43 to 45 seats.
    8. They say when Fazil mirani got to a poll station today every single woman left the poll station. raka Fazil mirani hat LOL
    9. happy for the initial results cuz with the power of KDP & determined change of Gorran, will become a better place.
    10. Wonderful gorran supporters who faced down hunger intimidation & armed might 2 make their voices heard
    11. So far, %85 of the votes have been counted. KDP is the first, Gorran the second & PUk the third.

     Jamal Hashim and Liang Youchang (Xinhua) report that 1,129 candidates were running for 111 seats and they quote Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani stating, "Today is a historic day for the Kurdish people and we have taken another step in the region to promote democracy.  The people of Kurdistan are the only winners in these elections."  Nechervan Barzani and his wife Nabila Barzani (pictured below) were among the first to vote in Erbil.


    While voting took place in northern Iraq, the day was marked by bombings in Baghdad.  Reuters notes, "At least 65 people were killed in a triple bombing that targeted a tent filled with mourners in Baghdad's Shi'ite Muslim stronghold of Sadr City on Saturday, police and medical sources said.Press TV adds, "In the deadliest of the attacks on Saturday, 57 people died after two bombings were carried out near a funeral tent in Shia-dominated Sadr City north of the capital Baghdad."  The death toll continued to rise.  AP notes, "Police said at least 72 people were killed and more than 120 were wounded in that attack. One bomber drove up near the tents before detonating his deadly payload, and another on foot blew himself up nearby, police said."

    In addition,  NINA adds an Anbar clash left 1 military officer dead and two soldiers inured,  a bombing to the east of Falluja claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier2 prison guards at Badoush Prison were shot dead in their Mosul homes,  a Tikrit attack left 4 Sahwa dead and a fifth injured, the Mosul home of Iraqiya MP Faris Sinjari was blown up today,  and a Baiji suicide bomber claimed the lives of 4 police officers and left a fifth injured.

    The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, Susan's On the Edge, Adam Kokesh, NPR's Fresh Air, Tavis Smiley,, Pacifica Evening News, Jody Watley, Latino USA and the ACLU  -- updated today and last night:

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