Wednesday, February 09, 2005

What do the elections mean?`

Here's my guess: In the short run, iraqis generally will see the new government as their government. So they'll be less tolerant of attacks on it. However, if they later see that the iraqi administration is not actually controlled by the elected representatives, then they'll have more support for insurgents attacking government workers.

So the foreign suicide bombers etc will continue as before, no change. Some of them might get stopped or turned in by iraqis who would have tolerated them before.

The local resistance will tend to target assassinations against high-level police and army officers etc who look particularly competent. They don't want splashy unpopular attacks, so pinpoint assassinations will be better. Also they might make more attacks on US forces since they'll be making fewer attacks on iraqi government troops. US forces are harder to hit and they hit back harder, but they'll be more popular targets.

In the longer run there's the question whether we act to make the new government look irrelevant. Immediately after the highly-publicised "handover" seven months ago, Allawi announced an amnesty for insurgents. But Bremer then announced that there could be no amnesty for insurgents who had attacked US troops (which at that point was probably the large majority of them) and Allawi had to back down. Allawi announced he'd be buying tanks and planes, and Bremer announced that the budget was frozen and Allawi had no money for tanks or planes. At that point Allawi's credibility was shot. The handover was revealed as a farce and it hardly mattered when Allawi then approved airstrikes on iraqi cities and the total destruction of Fallujah. The elections have given us at least a credibility moment, and the longer we can go without destroying the impression that the elected government has power, the better.


Blogger Hans Wall said...

Juan Cole shares your concerns

But if Washington falls back on its traditional responses — covert operations, attempts to interfere in parliamentary votes with threats or bribes, or dependence on strong men like Musharraf — the people of the Middle East might well explode, because the only thing worse than living under a dictatorship is being promised a democracy and then not really getting it.

11:03 PM, February 26, 2005  

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