Ali over at Free Iraq has some good news (gasp, there is actually good news coming from Iraq? No way).
In a latest poll (link in Arabic) done by an Iraqi centre for research and on the ground studies “Al Mada”, 300 men and women were selected from different age groups, classes and jobs to answer series of questions regarding the upcoming elections, and the main results were:
67% do not support postponing the elections.
52% refuse the interference of clerics in politics and 39% support such interference.
100% of women in Azzamyia favored postponing the elections while 93.5% of the women in Sadr city favored that it would be held at the exact decided time.
85.66% have set up their minds on whom to vote for.
59.33% have no knowledge about the details of the election process, the lists of candidates and their platforms.
The poll included the poor Shi’at district Sadr city.
– Azzamyia district, where most of the residents are Sunni middle class families and was known since the 60s to be a stronghold for the Ba’athists.
-Karrada which is mainly middle and high class She’at district.
-Al Mansoor which is on of the fanciest neighborhood in Baghdad (sects, religions and ethnic group doesn’t matter much there).
Other chosen districts were Al Doura, Al Karkh and Al Fadl.
More numbers at his blog.
So, if we depend on this poll (why not since whenever we open our mouths to say that Iraqis want democracy, some big hot shot scream, “BUT THE POLLS SAY THE OPPOSITE”) the majority wants the election to be held at the exact time. The majority don’t know much about the election process and the majority want the clerics to stay out of politics (note that most of the women who favored the interference of clerics in politics were from the Sunni district Azzamyia which makes their stand negligible since there are no Sunni clerics running for office and since most of the fears are from She’at clergy, as Sunnis are a minority anyway and it won’t harm a lot if Sunni clerics get some representation).
All in all the poll showed many encouraging results and among those I was more encouraged by the fact that many people have decided whom to vote while the low percentage in Azzamyia was not surprising in this field, as no one expects many people there would vote, but the lower percentage of the people who had setup their minds in Sadr city is actually encouraging because it indicates among other things that poor She’at are not necessarily going to vote for the list that Sistani favors and showed his support for, or for Sadr followers’ list. These people want to decide on their own and don’t seem to be impressed by Sadr or even Sistani!
In other good news Coalition Forces capture close to 200 insurgents
Jan. 19, 2005 — Coalition and Iraqi forces continue to sweep the country, killing and capturing insurgents and seizing stockpiles of illegal weapons as Iraq’s Jan. 30 national election approaches.
Military officials in Baghdad reported today that over the past 48 hours alone, more than 100 insurgents have been taken into custody.
Three insurgents were killed and three others were wounded by U.S. soldiers responding to an attack on their patrol near Kanan Jan. 18. Military officials said the patrol heard small-arms fire in the area and was attacked soon afterward. No soldiers were injured.
Iraqi and U.S. forces rounded up 15 suspected insurgents, including a suspected former intelligence officer in Saddam Hussein’s regime, during a pre-dawn raid near Jabella, about 50 miles south of Baghdad. Special Iraqi security forces and U.S. Marine and Army teams swarmed a group of houses believed to shelter several militants and hide weapons and munitions stockpiles. The raid also uncovered a small weapons cache, including 11 rifles and shotguns and 1,500 rounds of ammunition.
In northern Babil province, 19 suspected insurgents were arrested Jan. 18 after they attacked a Marine patrol. The Marines confiscated several rifles.
In southern Baghdad, Task Force Baghdad soldiers detained nine suspected insurgents after a nighttime attack Jan. 18. And 12 more suspected insurgents were captured during nine separate raids Jan. 18 in western Baghdad.