Sunday, December 18, 2005

In an article on Iraq in today's New York Times that's otherwise quite upbeat, Dexter Filkins clarifies something I was talking about a couple of days ago:

Most of the Sunnis interviewed at the polls Thursday, not just in Adhamiya but in other parts of Baghdad, professed that their community constitutes at least half of Iraq's population. Demographic experts believe the Sunnis are closer to about 15 or 20 percent; in a democratic arrangement, they would likely have to settle for far less power than they are historically used to....

As I noted a couple of days ago, an AP reporter heard something similar on election day:

"I came here and voted in order to prove that Sunnis are not a minority in this country," said lawyer Yahya Abdul-Jalil in Ramadi. "We lost a lot during the last elections, but this time we will take our normal and key role in leading this country."

I don't understand Filkins's use of the conditional tense -- it's not that the Sunnis would have to settle for far less power than they've had in the past under some theoretical democratic arrangement -- it's that they absolutely will have to settle for less in the government elected this past week.

Why should we believe they're just going to shrug and accept this?


Meanwhile, 19 people died in attacks today in Iraq and Dick Cheney flew in for yet another surprise visit under security "so secret that even Iraq's prime minister said he was surprised when he showed up."

Wake me when a top U.S. government official can openly fly into Iraq after having announced the trip and made the itinerary public. Then I'll believe there's real progress. Not before then.

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