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Iraqis Hold Free Elections

Iraqis Hold Free ElectionsDespitecontinued concerns about security in the region and the ongoingpresence of American troops, Tufts experts are cautiously optimisticabout the first free Iraqi elections in 50 years.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.02.05] On Jan. 30, Iraqis braved the threat of violence toturn out at polling stations in larger than expected numbers,casting votes in their country’s first free election in50 years. Despite promises by insurgents to continue violenceand low participation among the country’s Sunni Muslims,voter turnout was projected to be about 60 percent. Accordingto Tufts’ international relations professor MalikMufti, many Iraqis viewed the historic elections as a “testof American intentions in Iraq.”

“Theprevalent view is still very skeptical, that this is somethingarranged by the Americans,” Mufti explained in a BostonHerald article. “But there are a few voices . . . thatsay ‘look, there is a chance here.’”

The positiveoutlook fostered by participation in the election could spreadbeyond the borders of Iraq.

“Ifit does work out, it will have a revolutionary effect not juston Iraq but on the whole region,” he said.

A successfuldemocracy in Iraq may help silence critics of the American invasionof Iraq, Mufti told the Herald.

“Peoplewho opposed it will have to deal with the fact that American militaryintervention did bring about a positive change.”

All in all,Mufti called the election “a pretty serious setback forthe insurgents.”

AdilNajam, professor of international diplomacy at the FletcherSchool, still foresees an increase in violence as likely inthe near future, but he admitted that Iraqis “voted farmore actively than people had anticipated.”

Still, Najamwarns, the election is a single marker on a complex path towarddemocratic sovereignty for a nation ruled by a tyrant up until22 months ago.

“Thisis just one step in a really long process,” Najam told theHerald.





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