Reader: This is a second update from Capt. Wise about his deployment to ar-Ramadi with 6th Marines. Although he recently began this overseas tour, he was just assigned to a staff job in Tampa, FL, so will soon be re-deploying back to the U.S. for a much-needed break from the past few years' deployment cycle. He writes:
I saw many reports about the Iraqi elections on the US side, and for most unattentive readers, they think it's over, time to get us out. But that's not the end of the story. We'll soon have the results of the "Special Needs Voters" - those voters who couldn't vote during the main election due to their responsibilities (Iraqi Security Forces), the elderly, or handicapped. This vote is critical in Al Anbar. The top two parties in the main vote are separated by less than 1% of the vote total, and the special needs votes can tip this to one side or the other. Many of the tribal figures have publically stated that they will attack the Iraqi Islamic Party (the incumbent party since they were the only ones that ran in 05), but hopefully we have calmed things down.
Now the parties are doing what political parties do in parlimentary systems - start forming coalitions. The main objective of the parties right now is to make sure they maintain their influence, and have followed the old addage - politics makes strange bedfellows. We have anti-coalition forces parties aligning with our more friendly candidates, etc. What does it mean to all of us here? Don't know yet, because the election results will be finalized on the 23rd. Political pundits would have fun trying to predict the match ups here, and would likely get it wrong. If I've learned one thing about Iraqis, it's that they have their own logic. Just because it wouldn't make sense for us, doesn't mean it doesn't make perfect sense for them.
Until the results come out, I'll be back to doing what I do - going to meetings, and looking at PowerPoints.