Sunni Encouragement

According to John Burns and Dexter Filkins, despite Shiite dominance in the election, Sunnis seem to be sticking with the political process:

First Iraqi Election Returns Show Commanding Lead for Shiites [RSS] (NYT)

There had been fears that an overwhelming victory by the Shiite Alliance would lead to heightened protests by many of the country’s Sunni leaders, who have claimed that the Sunni population’s staying away rendered the election illegitimate. But a positive sign came today when Sunni leaders announced that 13 of the largest parties that boycotted the election had agreed to take part in writing a national constitution. Election officials declined to give a figure for the overall turnout in Sunday’s balloting, saying that they now expected to give that number only when all the votes have been calculated and that they did not expect to finish the count for another week.


The decision by the 13 Sunni parties to take part in the writing of a constitution is significant in its promise of Sunni representation, which had been in doubt because of the widespread call for a Sunni boycott of the election. Under the rules drafted last year to guide the establishment of a new Iraqi state, a two-thirds “no” vote in three provinces would send the constitution down to defeat. The Sunnis are a majority in three provinces.

To head that off, Iraqi Shiite leaders, who will probably form a new government in the coming weeks, say they are determined to reach out to Sunnis, offering them senior posts and a role in writing the constitution.

Whether Sunnis will follow through to the end remains to be seen. But the current dynamics — Shiite outreach and Sunni acceptance — are very encouraging. Indeed, even the timing is fortuitous: Sunni involvement comes before the tally, which shows a degree of faith in the way the process is being carried out.

Stay tuned.

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Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.