Florida on the Tigris
Pajamas Media has a roundup of the controversy surrounding the fairness of the Iraqi elections here and here. It also features updates from correspondents at Iraq the Model. The situation is potentially serious. Freedom Fighter's Journal has a roundup of possible scenarios. Austin Bay, a veteran of Iraq and no Left-wing mouthpiece says "I expected sturm und drang and accusations after the election, and what else is new? Check out Omar at Iraq the Model for the push and pull. Omar reports that initial leaks weren’t quite accurate. The big story: Everyone has whetted expectations." Essentially, the Sunnis are claiming that the Shi'ite parties have exaggerated their already large numerical superiority by cooking the counting. Iraq the Model cites some instances. The Independent has gone so far as to conclude that "Iraq is disintegrating". The bottom line is that the situation requires very careful watching.
This was one of the first elections of its type in that part of the world, and it's likely, in my opinion, that there were problems in the voting and the counting. The US will be probably be relied upon by all parties, to keep the level of cheating down to where results are acceptable. That probably means that the vote count itself will only be one source of input in a hybrid system that will eventually be (in my view) be a negotiated electoral result. The balance will be correct when nobody rushes out to restart hostilities. That means it's acceptable.
There are two possible problems attendant to this process. The first is the immediate challenge of addressing electoral irregularities in such a way that everybody, if not happy, is not terribly unhappy. The second arises from the longer term reality that, while the US might square the problem this time, it cannot do so indefinitely within the concept of Iraq as a sovereign nation. That probably requires sailing close to the wind: enough intervention to keep things from going haywire, but not so much as to foster dependency. Yet it's important to realize that to this point, the dissatisfaction has been expressed in words, and not as in days past, with TNT and packed ball-bearings. The media focus right now is on the NSA wiretaps and Tookie William's funeral, which is all very Washington and Hollywood. But the really important thing is to focus on finishing the Iraqi electoral process which began with the voting, but must now continue through tabulation and on to the formation of a new national government.