Ambassador Underscores Significance of Iraq's Upcoming Elections
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2005 Iraq's upcoming national elections will have a major impact on the country, forming a new government that "will act like a magnet and draw people in," the Defense Department's representative to Europe and adviser to the U.S. mission to NATO predicted today.
The Dec. 15 elections will create a new government expected to be seated for the next four years, during which it will "stake out the future for Iraq," Ambassador Evan Galbraith said at the Heritage Foundation here.
"It's the most important political event that's taken place in the Middle East ... in some time," he said.
By bringing together the Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis in a unified government with its new constitution and the backing of U.S. military firepower, the new Iraqi government "is going to be a pretty powerful instrument," Galbraith said.
"And that's a fairly awesome thing to think about when you're plotting to engage in its overthrow," he said.
Galbraith predicted that Iraqis "will want to get on the bandwagon" and support the new government. "They will see that this thing is going to work," and recognize that supporting the insurgents is a losing proposition, he said.
While the political progress under way won't completely eliminate the insurgency, it will help persuade those on the fence to support the new government, he said.
Galbraith was quick to note that Iraq's fledgling government may encounter some "stumbles" along the way as it takes its place on the world stage.
"The challenges are myriad, but the preponderance of evidence is one for success," he said. "And this is an ... underappreciated concept: the significance of this new government ... in the Middle East."
On Dec. 15 Iraqis will elect a 275-seat Council of Representatives to serve for a four-year term. The Council of Representatives will select Iraq's president and two deputy presidents.
The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq reports that 307 political entities and 19 coalitions are registered with the for the December elections. Some political entities will participate as part of a coalition in some provinces, and as an individual political entity in other provinces. Iraqis will be able to vote by party or may select independent candidates, and the new Iraqi government will be seated no later than Dec. 31.
Despite threats of terrorist attacks, about 10 million Iraqis -- 63 percent of eligible voters -- voted in the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum. Iraqis approved their new constitution by a nationwide 79 percent majority vote.
Defense officials say more than 6,000 additional Iraqi security forces will be on the streets for the Dec. 15 election than were for the Oct. 15 referendum. This is 80,000 more than there were for the Jan. 15 election, officials added.