Friday, February 04, 2005
Low Voter Turnout Among Iraqi Sunnis Feared
Low voter turnout by Sunnis fuels fears of more civil strife in Iraq
By Tom Lasseter
Knight Ridder Newspapers
BAGHDAD, Iraq - With the first phase of ballot counting in Iraq finished, concerns were growing Monday that many of the country's Sunni Muslims may not have voted, raising the possibility that the election could aggravate the rift between Iraq's Sunni minority and a Shiite Muslim majority that appears poised to take power.
While Sunnis in some areas voted in higher numbers than expected, their overall turnout was low, according to a senior U.S. diplomat in Baghdad. Mainstream Sunni political parties boycotted the vote, and many Sunnis live in the most violent areas of Iraq and are subject to intimidation by insurgents.
"Sunni participation was considerably lower than participation by the other groups, especially in areas which have seen a good deal of violence, and where intimidation is most easily carried out," said the U.S. diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
If the final results confirm a low Sunni turnout, it would mean that despite the euphoria and dancing in the streets on Sunday, as much as 20 percent of the population, most of it in the heart of the country, may not accept the results as legitimate. That could provide new fuel for the mostly Sunni insurgency.
Source: Knight-Ridder News (Emphasis added.)
Yes, I know - it is only speculation about worst-case scenarios so far. However, with the Bush Administration in charge, maybe a Sunni-Shiite civil war is the "optimistic" projection.