This Week the Question Is Will People Vote, Not Who Will They Vote For

Election Week in Iraq

This Week the Question Is Will People Vote, Not Who Will They Vote For

Election Week in Iraq

This Week the Question Is Will People Vote, Not Who Will They Vote For
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Jan. 25 2005 3:24 PM

Election Week in Iraq

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These are lots of questions to answer. Who will Iraqis vote for? Well, I think it depends on which Iraqis you talk to. Are they the middle-class Shiites of Baghdad or the poor people in Amara? Are they the Kurds of Sulaymaniyah—sorry, I know lots of them, understandably, don't like to be associated with the word "Iraqi"—or are they the Sunnis of Fallujah and Mosul?

I was really skeptical of this whole election thingy. I mean, who can people vote into first place when car bombs are rocking the city every day?

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Can I trust the police to provide security if they themselves are being blown up every few hours?

How can anyone trust all those people running for election when some of them are still going to the country in the east to get instructions and when their militias are roaming the streets? But yesterday, when I was in one of Baghdad's Shiite neighborhoods, I saw a man in his 50s, thick glasses resting on his nose—he was a communist handing out election literature in the middle of a Shiite neighborhood. I thought, "He will be killed in two seconds," but he wasn't, and people were nice, stuffing his fliers in their pockets and walking on. You have to remember that this is a country where people are killed sometimes just because they show the wrong ID card at the wrong checkpoint.

I think what matters for me is the fact that people will go and vote—if they dare to. I know lots of people will, and that is what really matters. This week, we have to worry about whether people will vote or not. Next week, we'll worry about the result.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is an Iraqi freelance photo-journalist. He is also a columnist for Britain's Guardian newspaper. Wendell Steavenson is British/American writer whose work from Iraq has appeared in Slate, the Financial Times magazine, and Granta. Her first book,Stories I Stole, is a chronicle of Edvard Shevardnadze's Georgia. Abdul-Ahad and Steavenson met in Baghdad at the end of 2003 and plan to marry at the end of this year.