Marc Lynch

Iraqi Parliamentary elections to (maybe) be pushed back two months

 As I wrote the other day, the Obama administration and General Odierno have been very strong in sticking to their commitment to draw down forces in Iraq despite the uptick in violence.  But there’s another issue which could potentially challenge the schedule:  the date of the Iraqi Parliamentary elections.   The Obama withdrawal plan opted ...

 As I wrote the other day, the Obama administration and General Odierno have been very strong in sticking to their commitment to draw down forces in Iraq despite the uptick in violence.  But there’s another issue which could potentially challenge the schedule:  the date of the Iraqi Parliamentary elections.   The Obama withdrawal plan opted to keep relatively high troop levels through 2009, pegged to the ostensible need to provide security through the national elections.  I have never found this logic compelling, and back in January I warned that:

Although advocates of slower withdrawals cite these elections as a reason to retain high troop levels through 2009, it is worth noting that the elections may not happen on schedule (Iraqi officials have recently been suggesting March 2010 as a more likely date) and that continuing high U.S. troop levels might help anti-U.S. forces at the polls.

Now the official Iraqi newspaper al-Sabah reports from the Iraqi Parliament that the next elections will likely be held on February 12, 2010 and not in December 2009.  Not that big a deal, really, except that this removes two months from the American calender for withdrawals.  I will be curious to see how the planners respond to this shift in the date of the election, should it in fact be implemented.  And that’s not even incorporating the concept that the period after an election is often the most turbulent and violent time , as losers realize that they have lost.  I imagine that the U.S. will press to hold the elections earlier, but wonder what kind of pressure it really can or would bring to bear to make it happen.  

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