Conference Call With Dan Senor On Iraqi Elections
Update: The call has just finished.
RNC eCampaign Director Patrick Ruffini introduced Dan Senor, chief spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq prior to the 2004 sovereignty transfer.
Mr. Senor made some opening remarks (lightly paraphrased throughout), looking back on the two prior Iraqi elections. He noted that going into the January election for the transitional government, there was great uncertainty as to the percentage of Iraqis that would participate. Still 8 million voters risked their lives to cast their votes.
10 months later, Iraqis returned to the polls to vote on the constitutional referendum, at which point critics labeled the first election's success an anomaly. Indeed, Senor noted that many electoral experts look more closely at a nation's second election as the better gauge of its stability. The referendum drew more than 9 million voters.
Tomorrow (actually in just a few hours), when Iraqis vote for a third time, now for a permanent parliamentary government, Senor foresees a yet higher turnout, with far greater Sunni participation. Senor predicts the number of Sunni-held seats will rise from 16 to 40-50, while the number of Shia-held seats will drop from around 140 to around 110. He also predicted a drop in the number of Kurd-held seats (though it would have to be minute if the above predictions bear out).
Many politicians here and in other parts of the Sunni heartland are pushing the message of opposition to win over the electorate: Vote for me and I will rid Iraq of the Americans. Or, vote for me and I will thwart the plans of the Shiites and Kurds.
I asked if Senor felt this was accurate. He did. He said he recognizes that Iraqis may have a sense of humiliation associated with the symbols of foreign occupation. Senor noted that when asked if they want Americans to leave, most Iraqis say yes. But when asked if they want us to leave immediately, they say no. The difference, which Senor described as seemingly illogical but understandable, is that the Iraqi people, while eager to cast off the symbols of occupation, recognize the major security implications of our presence.
Further, Senor noted that the key clause of the quoted statement was "vote for me". Opposition that's expressed as, "Vote for me and... X," whatever X may be (rather than opposition expressed via violence) is progress.
Gary Gross asked exactly how tomorrow's vote will detract from the insurgency.
Senor observed that the leaders of the insurgency have moved from directly undercutting the American presence in Iraq to undercutting the Iraqi political process. Zarqawi and Zawahri now view Iraq's political evolution as the biggest threat to the former Baathist/Saddamist/terrorist vision of Iraq. This is reflected by the fact that attacks are now predominantly focused on Iraqi security and political institutions.
Senor also referred to Brookings Institution research published in The New York Times that quantifies certain benchmarks of progress in Iraq. In particular, he noted that the number of Iraqis that volunteer tips about the insurgency each day had increased 2 or 3-fold over the last year.
It's actually a 14-fold increase (150/day vs. 10/day). Check out the summary index data for additional insights into year-over-year progress.
Senor explains that this is indicative of a change in sentiment about the momentum of the struggle.
John Hawkins asked what effect the eventual drawdown of American troops will have on the insurgency.
Senor indicated that - assuming the drawdown occurs at a time when Iraqi forces are able to effectively provide for their ongoing security - the result will largely be a positive psychological shift. The absence of "humiliation associated with the symbols of insurgency", as he mentioned earlier, will have a powerful effect.
Many thanks to Dan Senor and Patrick Ruffini for the informative call and kudos to our burgeoning small-d democrat friends as they Iraq (sigh...) the vote.
Mary Katherine Ham at HughHewitt.com
The full-length Iraq Index ("Tracking Variables of Reconstruction & Security in Post-Saddam Iraq"), courtesy of the Brookings Institution, published December 12.
This afternoon, Dan Senor will host a blogger conference call previewing Thursday’s Iraqi elections.
From the call invitation:
[Senor] served as the chief spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq until the transfer of sovereignty in June 2004. As Iraqis head to the polls, Senor will discuss his unique perspective on Iraq’s incredible transformation from a dictatorship to democracy.
Dan Senor served as the chief Coalition spokesman and senior advisor to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, and was one of the longest serving American civilians in Iraq, entering Iraq on one of the first civilian convoys after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Few have a clearer understanding of the progress that Iraq has made than Dan Senor.
It should be refreshing to hear from someone who actually holds an informed view of the situation.
Watch this space for a subsequent synopsis.
Handcrafted by Flip on December 14, 2005 |
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I'm swamped and to be honest the conference call was a little light on detail and questions were limited to three. I really wanted to ask Dan some questions about Iran but the whole thing was over in a flash. John Hawkins felt the same way: [Read More]
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