January 18, 2005

Peas, Pod, Conspiracy

Courtesy of the Iraqi Press Monitor, here's a curious charge from Al-Adala, a daily issued by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq:
Vice president Ibrahim al-Jafari has accused the list of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi of using government organisations for his electoral campaign. Jafari, a prominent figure on the Unified Iraq List, has criticised the some elements of the Iraqi army for preventing people from raising placards and signs of the UIL, and for using police cars to distribute pictures of Allawi. Jafari condemned the statements of some official who accused candidates of the UIL as agents of a neighbouring state.
Excellent! Allawi continues to learn well from his mentor. More seriously, though, I'm still very worried about all this tension between Allawi's list and the main Shi'ite list. (And not just because they have oddly similar names -- Allawi's "Iraqi List" vs. Sistani's "United Iraqi List" -- a muddle that would surely confound American voters.) Look at how the pre-election stage has been set. Allawi has declared martial law up through and past January 30. A good chunk of Allawi's support will come from absentee ballots, many of which will be counted in Jordan—which is notoriously pro-Allawi and wary of the religious Shiites (and has serious beef with Ahmed Chalabi, who is on the United Iraqi List). Meanwhile, other absentee ballots will be counted in Iran, which is notoriously pro-religious Shiite and wary of Allawi. From a god's-eye view, yes, it's possible this will all go off smoothly and there will be no fraud at all. But no one has a god's-eye view, and if either Allawi or Sistani or anyone else doesn't like the election results, there's ample room for conspiracy-mongering. That the conspiracy-mongering has already started doesn’t make me feel any better about this.
-- Brad Plumer 1:02 PM || ||