Thursday, October 13, 2005

Yon On Iraq: Shinin' Lights At Dawn

Under the surface trying to break through
Deciphering the codes in you
I need a compass, draw me a map
I'm on the top, I can't get back

While the mainstream news continues to heap negative speculation on the Sunnis joining the political process, Michael Yon delivers a journalistic k.o. to the competition by interviewing a key election official in Baghdad:
The man was, in fact, Dr. Farid Ayar, a well-known figure on the international stage. As spokesman for the Higher Independent Electoral Commission, and one of its eight commissioners, Dr. Ayar's job is more dangerous now than any soldier's or journalist's—every terrorist in Iraq would have a special bullet reserved for him, and Dr. Ayar's face was all over the news all over the world.
Dr. Ayar expressed confidence in the upcoming referendum, saying that with 30,000 polling stations, and many Arab Sunnis having agreed to vote, turnout was expected to be strong. He said the Sunnis have several problems with the Constitution as proposed. They do not accept Federalism, and they want to see a statement in the Constitution denoting Iraq as an Arab country. They are also against wording stipulating Former Regime Ministers are not allowed to share power in the new government. Yet, despite their ongoing differences, he pointed out, most Sunnis have agreed to vote.

According to Dr. Ayar, there are 15.5 million eligible voters, and the commission expects about 11 million of them to vote, saying this would be an even better turnout than the January election results. The number seemed optimistic, but Dr. Ayar said that with a high Arab Sunni turnout, it might actually happen.

Rasmus interjected with a question about places where voting might not occur. Dr. Ayar said there were a few such places, like Haditha, Qaim and Rawa, where there is too much fighting now.

"And Tal Afar?" I asked, "Will there be voting in Tal Afar?" Dr. Ayar expects "maybe" 33 polling centers to open in that city, where much fighting had recently occurred.

Perhaps recalling the problems that plagued the January elections, leading to widespread predictions that the elections would be a disaster, Rasmus asked about problems hiring election workers. Dr. Ayar said there are so many volunteers that people are complaining they cannot get hired. He emphasized that there "has not been a single resignation this time," and that the volunteers were mostly coming from the same cities they would work in. During the first elections, there were so many killings and security threats that many election workers had to be shuttled around Iraq for protection from reprisals.

Dr. Ayar explained that the security for the election sites will have three rings. The Iraqi Police will provide inner security. The Iraqi Army will provide the second ring. The Coalition will be the third ring and used only for backup.

The deal goes down Saturday. History. Either way.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

With so much happening in Iraq, from the trial of Saddam to the voting on the Constitution, we are happy to announce that Michael Yon will be back on the Pundit Review Radio this Sunday evening.

Michael will be joining us live from Iraq to give us a preview of his upcoming Weekly Standard column on last weekend’s historic voting, we’ll also get his perspective on Saddam’s trial and the overall situation on the ground

When: Sunday, October 23, 9pm EST
Where: Streaming Live at Boston’s Talk Station, WRKO
Contact: Call us toll free at 877-469-4322

About Pundit Review Radio
Pundit Review Radio is where the old media meets the new. Each week Kevin & Gregg give voice to the work of the most influential thought leaders in the new media/citizen journalist movement. This unique show brings the best of the blogs to your radio every Sunday evening at 9pm EST on AM680 WRKO, Boston’s Talk Leader.