Iraq Glass Half Full or Half Empty

I don’t care which side of the political fence you are on or whether or not you supported continuing the war on terror into Iraq, everyone should admit that what is happing today in Iraq is incredibly good news.

Unless you are a bitter no good member of the media. And it is clear that some members of the media accpt that this is an historic day and others are just bitter partisan losers.

Our pride, by first Iraqis to vote

Official tells of ‘jubilant’ mood among Iraqi ex-pats

(CNN) — In Syria on Friday, an Iraqi expatriate, voting in the nation’s first free elections in more than half a century, said he felt “as if I’ve just been born.”

In London, an Iraqi woman called it “the best thing I have actually ever done in my life.” And in Australia, the first person in the world to cast a ballot in the elections described himself as “very excited, very happy.”

“Happy because I vote — the first time in our life we were allowed to vote for a democratic government,” Shimon Haddad told CNN. As manager of the biggest voting center in Australia, he voted about 15 minutes before the polls officially opened at 7 a.m. (2000 GMT Thursday) in Sydney. …

“I’m really so much excited about this because this is election — and we never really have it all our life, said Layla al-Jawad, voting in Detroit. …

“Some people have traveled 20 hours” to vote, he said. “There is a great interest in this process.” …

“It’s the greatest day in my life, the greatest feeling ever in my life,” said Montador Almosawi in Southgate, Mich. “My feeling is that I’m doing something for my country. And we always say that distance of 1,000 miles starts with one step –and that’s the biggest step we’re doing right now.” …

“I am lost for words,” said Hassan. “I am 49 years old, but I feel as if I’ve just been born.”

Maaksoud said he felt like “a new human.”

Huge choice

Outside a polling site in London, 19-year-old Zaineb Field told CNN, “I must say it was the best thing I have actually ever done in my life. … People were clapping, so emotional, you feel like you want to cry.” …

“This is democracy in the making. This is freedom in the making,” said Ghanim al-Shibli, Iraq’s ambassador to Australia. “The Iraqi people are experiencing and tasting freedom. This is something tremendous — just give you goose pimples.”

Reactions like this were predicted by some of the more enlightened pundits around.

Democracy finds hope in Iraqi town

KARMA, Iraq (CNN) — The concept of democracy appears to have taken root in the dusty town of Karma, a predominantly Sunni community of 75,000 people about nine miles (15 kilometers) northeast of Falluja. …

Heck even Christiane Amanpour admits it isn’t all bad news….

Women gain attention in Iraqi elections

Candidates in some cities are protected by U.S. forces

(CNN) — As the Iraqi elections near, women are changing the face of politics.

On TV women are encouraged to not only vote, but participate. Election organizers have mandated that 25 percent of the candidates in next week’s elections be women. …

In Najaf, under the protection of 200 U.S. and Iraqi forces, candidates appealed for votes Tuesday. Six women from the main two political blocs met with reporters in the Shiite holy city 85 miles (136 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

Veiled and wearing the black abaya, the candidates stood at a podium in front of a wall on which a copy of the U.N. declaration of human rights was hanging.

“We are under occupation,” said Anwar Uboud-Ali from the Loyalty to Najaf bloc. “We want this election to elect a government that beefs up the Iraqi security forces and tells the Americans thank you for what have done and now leave.”

“I am running as a candidate to defend the poor and raise the plight of the dispossessed,” Uboud-Ali says. “I am talking about a class that has nothing.”

Candidate Faliha Kathem Hassan said the Baathist government executed three members of her family.

“I want to help balance the repression of Saddam by running for office,” she said.

And then there’s this:

Will women be the biggest losers?

NEW YORK Come election time in Iraq, remember Wijdan al-Khuzai. Her violent death is a brutal warning that although Iraq’s Sunnis are said to have the most to lose, it is in fact women, from all sects, who could be the biggest losers of the Iraqi election.

The body of Khuzai, an election candidate running on a secular platform, was found near her house on Dec. 25. Khuzai was determined to overcome what she described as the strict social and religious curbs on women in Iraq.

The sons of two other female candidates have been killed to punish their mothers for their electoral ambitions, and another female candidate was kidnapped and released only after her family paid a ransom.

Even female candidates who have been more overtly religious have not been spared. Earlier this month, Salama al-Khafaji, a prominent female Shiite candidate escaped assassination when her bodyguards returned fire at gunmen who ambushed her car. It was the second attempt on her life since May, when her son and one of her bodyguards were killed in an ambush of her convoy.

The invasion of Iraq could never be dedicated to the liberation of the country’s women in the way the war in Afghanistan was. Iraq did not have the Taliban’s hated misogynists, and for long periods, Iraqi women had enjoyed rights their Arab sisters could only dream of.

Democracy isn’t worth dying for, woman were better off under Saddam Hussien.

And you have to almost admire whoever wrote this next headline, it really is hard to be this big an idiot.

Zarqawi may be hated but so are the Americans

Grimy, rubbish-strewn Zarqa’s sole claim to fame is that it is the home town of the most bloodthirsty terrorist on the loose in Iraq.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, drunkard and thug turned born-again jihadist, is doing everything in his power to wreck the elections in Iraq.

Yesterday, expatriate Iraqis turned up at a heavily protected polling centre in the Jordanian town’s main school to defy Zarqawi and his ilk and to declare their faith in their country’s future.

“I’m here because voting is going to change things for the better,” said Mohammed Hussein, 22, who left southern Iraq for Jordan two years ago. “Zarqawi is a criminal and a terrorist.”

Another young voter, Massen Ali, chipped in: “If we find him we’ll cut him to pieces. We alone can liberate our country.”

Zarqawi, of course, is not Iraqi but Jordanian. He is a lower-class member of the important Bani Hassan tribe whose area borders Iraq and who are among the Hashemite monarchy’s biggest supporters.

According to legend, after a dissolute adolescence he underwent a transcendental conversion and went to fight in Afghanistan.

On his return he was jailed by the Jordanians. After an amnesty, he returned to Afghanistan before travelling to northern Iraq to join a Sunni terrorist group.

Zarqawi’s foreignness and appalling methods make it easy for Iraqis to hate him. “No one from our country could do something like that,” they say. That does not mean that they disagree with his ultimate goal of driving the Americans out.

Voters see no contradiction in the fact that the American soldiers who made the election possible are the same people they are most eager to see the back of.

I guess you can only get so much mileage from liberating 20 million people and converting a brutal dictatorship to a [struggling] democracy.

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