Religious Parties Deal Blow to U.S. Hopes for IraqI suppose only time will tell what impact the recent elections in Iraq will have on the Middle East. But if we end up with another anti-American, Islamic fundamentalist regime in the country we just "liberated," can we expect to hear an apology from the president? I wouldn't hold my breath.
The Bush administration's hopes for a government of national unity in Iraq, led by its favoured candidate, Ayad Allawi, the secular and pro-Western former prime minister, received a setback on Tuesday night.
Preliminary results showed that most voters opted for Sunni and Shi'ite religious parties in a Parliament in which nationalists who want an early timetable for a withdrawal of United States and British troops will have a stronger voice. ...
... Washington and London had been hoping Allawi would emerge as a compromise candidate for the top post. During his years in exile in the Saddam Hussein period, he had close links with the CIA and MI6. As prime minister for nine months until April this year, his tough law-and-order image chimed well with U.S. policy.
The U.S. and British governments, which praised last week's poll as a triumph, are likely to paint the hung Parliament, the complaints of fraud and the bargaining over portfolios as further signs of healthy competition. But there was no disguising Washington's disappointment on Tuesday.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said: "It seems sectarian identity and ethnic identity have played the dominant role." ...
... Estimates are that the Kurds will have slightly more seats than the two main Sunni blocs combined, which is why the Sunnis are crying foul. They say their population easily exceeds that of the Kurds.