Following excepts are for the record. On whether the United States will pull its forces out of Iraq if the government being elected Sunday requests it:
I would be surprised if that were the case, because I've, you know, heard the voices of the people that presumably will be in a position of responsibility after these elections, although, you never know.On whether the United States would then feel compelled to pull out if asked to do so by the sovereign government:
But it seems like most of the leadership there understands that there will be a need for coalition troops, at least until Iraqis are able to fight. And that most of the people there in Baghdad understand that the Iraqis need not only more training and equipment, but also they need a command structure - the spine of any military capacity. And they don't have that now.
The prime minister has been - you know, hasn't picked and filled all the slots necessary for there to be command generals in place, division leaders in place. And so we've got some work to do, and I think most Iraqis understand that. But this is a sovereign government.
Yeah, absolutely. This is a sovereign government. They're on their feet. We anticipated that, by the way, on the passing of sovereignty. And had the Allawi government said, "out," we would have been required to leave.Seems to me we heard all this seven months ago, when the world was being told Allawi was not just a puppet (no one is defending that line any more, are they?).
On the other hand, again, I think there's - obviously, it's very speculative.
Iraqi voters have finally been told who will be on the ballot. But the results may not be known for some time. The Christian Science Monitor has some good background info on the elections, including this:
The national election will establish a 275-member transitional national assembly that will select a cabinet, a prime minister, and a president. The national assembly will work much like a parliamentary system, though its principal job will be to write a constitution and have it ratified by Iraqis before the end of 2005. If it fails to do this, it can extend the process for another six months. If a constitution is not ratified by then, its mandate will expire, and fresh elections will be held for a new assembly that will start the process again.In other words, plenty of horse-trading ahead.
Also interesting that the pro-Bush bloggers at Iraq The Model have still not indicated which ticket their little Pro-Democracy Party will be running on. Why not? Anyone know?
I'll leave the last word today to SMH reporter Paul McGeogh, who has a lengthy article explaining why ex-CIA man Allawi will be hard to beat here:
There will be no miracle on Sunday. Even if the insurgency were to hold its fire, some of the hoariest old chestnuts of Iraqi politics must be addressed in the coming months. Few of the mostly anonymous party lists that have been cobbled together for the poll are expected to hold together and the insurgency - and the US-led forces - will not be packing up any time soon.