Positive, Quiet & Real Iraqi Developments

As the mainstream news focuses on the 500 Anti-Brit demonstrators in Basra, a city of an estimated 1,377,000, Cindy Sheehan and her 30 anti-war supporters descending on the capital ready to meet up with Senators Clinton and McCain, and Hurricane Rita plowing its way towards “Gasoline Alley”, there has been significant, quiet, real, and positive developments in the infant Democracy of Iraq…

Iraqi’s most powerful Shiite Cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, today promoted a “yes” vote for the Oct. 15 national referendum on the constitution.

You might remember that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani left Iraq last year for a heart operation as Allied troops took on the rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in August. It appears that Al Sistani is making another power play and again it is in a postitive direction for the country and in opposition to Al Sadr. I do like Al-Sistani’s timing!

Iraqi security forces in the south have largely fallen under the authority of militias — the military wings of Iraq’s various Shiite factions. The Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stands largely in opposition to the Badr Brigade, which owes allegiance to the biggest Shiite party, SCIRI.

SCIRI is beholden to al-Sistani, whose decision to endorse the constitution sets up a political showdown with al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army — both vehement opponents of the charter.

Al-Sadr was joined in his opposition Thursday by Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yaqoubi, who issued a statement from his office in Basra instructing his followers to vote against the constitution.

Iraqi and British officials have sought to play down the difficulties between local authorities in Basra and the 8,500-soldier British force.*

“I do not think that this will be an obstacle that cannot be overcome,” Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Thursday, a day after meeting with British officials in London.

Also, Iraqi-American Haider Ajina, writes in with another translated Iraqi news story.

The following is my translation of a headline and article in the September 23 edition of the Iraqi Arab newspaper “Iraq Al-Ghad “

“70% of Fallujah’s eligible voters register to vote “

“The city of Fallujah, part of the Ramadi province (100km west of Baghdad), announced that 70% of its eligible residence have registered to vote in the new constitutional vote, and the general election to follow. Abdul Sattar Al-Jumaily, a Fallujah city council member announced in a press conference in Fallujah, that the city witnessed a large turn out at the voter registrations stations, we had 70% of elegible voters register. This shows that the city is preparing for the constitutional & the following general elections. Initially we only had four voter registration stations, then (due to overwhelming turn out) each station expanded to four more stations in areas all over Fallujah. This lead to a high registration of citizens who want to vote about the constitution, which will be the foundation of the elections following it.

“Colonel Salah Ghalil Alaani chief of police of Fallujah said that the securety situation in the city is very stable. We have over 700 police in stations all over the city. This is a much better situation in which to hold elections. Specially since the local tribal chiefs, religious leaders and the city council have all pledged to protect polling stations.”

My comment:
Here we have a mostly, if not all Arab Sunni city, which used to be a bastion and haven for terrorist less than 9 month ago, now preparing for joining, and looking forward to the political process. What a difference freedom, self worth and ownership of ones city in a short 9 months makes. Progress like this is happening in over 80-90% of Iraq. We are witnessing unquestionable progress in most of Iraq, with a small section in 2 provinces refusing to yield to the will of most Iraqis for a free, democratic and law-abiding government.

Thank you, Haider Ajina, once again for that terrific news that we just are not getting from our American mainstream news organizations!

* Iraqi and British officials “played down” the difficulties in Basra, because unlike the picture the media is wanting to create, the city has not been a significant problem area for the Allied forces.

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