Monday, October 17, 2005

Iraq- A Little Bit Stronger

8.5 million Iraqis challenged not only Zarqawi and former Baathists, but the vast networks of Jihadism and the many dictatorships in the region by casting their votes to select candidates and elect an assembly on January 31, 2005.

Sunni representation was missing. Jihadists and Baathists used all means possible to intimidate moderates. Radical clerics used all influence at their disposal to boycott the Government. Political mistakes were made by both the Shiite-Kurdish and Coalition authorities, which alienated other Sunnis.

However, despite the calls for an emirate by al Qaida and the skepticism of the Arab League, the new republic produced a parliment. That January victory, even with turbulance, laid the groundwork for change in the present political scene in Iraq.

Sunnis saw a new active parliament and a thriving media as political life developed before their eyes. By August 2005, there was a Sunni "position" toward the constitutional debate. Many Sunnis distanced themselves from Zarqawi's "refusal of all constitutions" and chose criticism of the constitution instead.

By participating in the constitutional discussion, many Sunni groups and clerics crossed that line from total boycott to engagement in the political process. Even with a "no" vote cast, we saw them participating in the referendum. An overwhelming majority of Iraqis have put an end to the dictatorial past and rejected the terrorist agenda. In so doing, Iraq's republic grows a little stronger still.

Though difficult times are likely still ahead in this conflict in the Middle East, this October victory will lay the groundwork for even more change in Iraq. Approximately one million more people voted concerning the October 15 referendum than in the January 31 election. This means more people are speaking out against the enemy of democracy.

In my opinion, whether the constitutional referendum passes or fails, that is the sweetest victory of all.

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