Iraqi Palmistry

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 3, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Iraqi Palmistry


Byline: Arnaud de Borchgrave, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

An optimist in the Middle East is someone who is almost always wrong while a pessimist is usually an optimist with experience. And those who live by the crystal ball in Araby usually wind up eating crunched glass.

With those caveats, one can probably dismiss the voices from the left that say it was an election to anoint an occupation. One can also safely discount the Bush cheerleaders who are confident the Iraqi elections symbolize the strategic defeat of terrorism in Iraq.

But it was a major triumph for Iran. For the first time since the revolutionary ayatollahs imposed their clerical dictatorship on Persia in 1979, their Shi'ite coreligionists scored a legal majority of the votes in another country - and a neighbor at that. Mercifully, Iraq's Shi'ites, headed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, were not interested in emulating Iran's theocracy. They made clear they wanted majority rule government sans turbans.

Their favorite candidate for prime minister is Ahmad Chalabi, originally sponsored by neocon supremo Richard Perle, and once the Pentagon's darling and the CIA's bete noir, who has spent the past few months cultivating new contacts with turbans in Iran and obtaining Ali Sistani's benediction for high office.

Mr. Chalabi's elevation would cause immediate embarrassment in Jordan, Iraq's immediate neighbor to the west, where he was sentenced in absentia in 1992 to 22 years hard labor on 31 counts of embezzlement and bank fraud. Jordan's King Abdullah, whose country heavily depends on trade with Iraq, would probably have to grant a royal pardon.

The election was one small step for democracy - and a giant step into unknown territory. No traffic was allowed to move and major cities looked like ghost towns. With 19,000 candidates and 111 parties and formations, the ballots were so complex even Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader, needed a briefing on what to do. The United Iraqi Alliance apologized for identifying only 37 of their 225 candidates "because we have to keep them alive." A similar election held in Syria would have been dismissed as sham.

The attribution of 275 seats in the transitional Constituent Assembly, the selection of a president and two vice presidents, and then a prime minister, who would have to form a government, followed by a referendum on a new constitution in mid-August, followed by general elections by year's end - all so many sandtraps where scorpions lie in wait.

Before the elections, Iraq's new head of intelligence estimated the number of "fulltime" insurgents at 40,000 and part-time fighters at 160,000. Before the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the army numbered 430,000.

Last year, Central Commander Gen. John Abizaid put the number of terrorists at about 5,000. Other generals have gone as high as 20,000. The only number that matters is 300. That was the total number of IRA terrorists deployed in Northern Ireland at the height of the insurgency.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Iraqi Palmistry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?