I don’t have a whole lot to say about the Iraqi elections. From a cursory read of a wide range of coverage, there seems to be some reason for encouragement and some for concern. I don’t get the feeling the peaceful voting and projected victory for proponents of secular, central government is as triumphant an event as some are making out. The true test of a democracy is not so much the voting, but whether or not all the parties respect the outcome of the voting, especially when it comes to a peaceful transfer of power. On the other hand, the various problems with the voting and low Sunni turnout represent problems that we already know about, and which it will take more than an election cycle to solve. So concerning, but no more so than any number of other residual problems that have yet to be addressed (Kirkuk, oil revenue sharing, etc.).
My hunch is that, as has been the case for a while now with news out of Iraq, most people will use the election to reinforce their pre-existing point of view. For me, that translates roughly to, There are signs of progress, although it’s hard to know if they’re durable, along with stubborn problems that may or may not be intractable. We’ve had a pretty long run in Iraq now of dogs that haven’t barked: the Sons of Iraq transferred to Iraqi command, a final status agreement on Kirkuk, Moqtada al-Sadr’s ceasefire, etc.
But by the same token, everything seems very tenuous, even if the outward signs of stability are dramatically improved, and I don’t get the feeling that any of the potential threats to that stability have been definitively removed.