Sunni Choices


I'm as curious as Jesse about the Sunni Arab turnout on Sunday, but I'm not so sure it makes much difference to the political issues now facing Iraqis. Obviously, higher Sunni Arab turnout is better than lower. On the other hand, the NYT reported on January 25 that the same "Sunni Arab leaders who have been the most vocal in calling for a boycott or postponement of the coming elections say they intend to get involved in politics after the vote, including taking part in writing a permanent constitution."

This is one of the reasons that a high voter turnout in the rest of the country was important: It was a powerful demonstration that the Iraqi political process has widespread support and legitimacy. The attempt to derail the election having failed, the Sunnis' remaining choices, as the community's own political leaders are aware, are to participate in Iraq's political process or be left out of it.

Tony at Across the Bay offered his usual insightful post on the NYT report, noting a parallel with the Lebanese Christian Aounists. That faction boycotted an election in the 1990s to protest Syrian occupation. Writes Tony, "They then realized that they had to join in if they were to have any influence . . ." which is what happened.

"What the Sunnis will hopefully learn," Tony adds, "is what the Lebanese have hopefully learned: your country is a consociational democracy."