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Division Commander in Iraq Voices Concern over Election Meddling
American Forces Press Service ^ | John J. Kruzel

Posted on 01/14/2009 3:43:17 PM PST by SandRat

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2009 – With violence levels greatly reduced, meddling from outside influences is a concern surrounding upcoming Iraqi elections, a U.S. commander in Iraq said today.

Army Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, commander of Multinational Division Center, said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has pledged that Baghdad will do all it can to prevent defrauding of the Jan. 31 provincial elections by internal and external forces.

“We agree with [Maliki] that everybody should let Iraqis make their own decisions in this election,” he told reporters at a news conference in Baghdad. “What’s important to Iraq is that elections be seen as credible, and my only concern is that outside influences may interfere.”

Oates described such meddling as everything from “soft-power” tactics such as a foreign entity endorsing a candidate through political posters, leaflets and information campaigns to outright violence up to election day.

U.S. forces around the country are preparing to support Iraqi security forces in the event of possible violence surrounding the balloting. Army Col. Burt Thompson, commander of the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, discussed potential election saboteurs in a Jan. 12 media briefing. “It's pretty clear what they'd be going after,” he said. “It's to sway the hearts and the minds -- to intimidate those civilians from going and voting.”

In today’s news conference, Oates said Multinational Division Center troops are prepared to work with Iraqi security forces, which have taken the lead to ensure the elections occur safely and smoothly. The most likely security threat facing the electorate in his area of operations, the general said, comes from splinter groups of militia members who are disobeying a ceasefire order from the Iranian-influenced Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The general said a small number of such groups are responsible for much of the region’s violence. He added that the fact that attacks aimed at coalition forces are decreasing while violence aimed at Iraqi forces rises indicates the groups’ intention of fomenting internal chaos.

Meanwhile, Oates said, al-Qaida’s role has become “severely degraded” in the southern part of his jurisdiction, despite the terror organization’s attempts over the past months to regenerate. But he cautioned that al-Qaida still is capable of launching “spectacular attacks.” In large part, though, members of Jaysh al-Mahdi, Sadr’s armed constituency, are complying with their leader’s order to lay down arms, he added.

Oates expressed some concern that some of Iran’s influence in Iraq takes the form of humanitarian aid. Helping Iraq’s Shiite poor and supporting hospitals works to provide “significant influence in terms of soft power” for Iraq’s neighbor to the east among Iraqis. But extremist Iranian elements might be motivated to ramp up “lethal activity” as elections near, he added.

Still, Oates predicted a safe election, and said that the challenge afterward will be ensuring a smooth transition of power.

“My hope is that those who are disappointed don’t take out their disappointment in violence,” he said.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alsadr; concerns; frwn; iran; iraq

1 posted on 01/14/2009 3:43:17 PM PST by SandRat
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To: 91B; HiJinx; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; clintonh8r; TEXOKIE; windchime; freekitty; A Navy Vet; ...
If you would like to be added to / removed from FRWN,
please FReepmail Sandrat.


2 posted on 01/14/2009 3:43:52 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country! What else needs said?)
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To: SandRat

As much as we in the western world abhor Big Brother, except in England, perhaps, the US military should have been very Big Brother-ish in Iraq, with an eye to restoring order faster.

By this, I mean that our ground forces should have had hand-held units that would quickly register every Iraqi they met. I’m thinking of a small, hand-held device with a Wi-Fi connection to a local laptop computer that is itself connected to a military civilian database.

Say our soldiers meet a group of Iraqi citizens. One at a time, their picture would be taken by the device, at the same time it invisibly measured their height. Then the Iraqi would be told to clench the device in his right hand, and then his left, where both his hand prints would be scanned.

He would be asked him name, and the name of his tribe, his address, his religion, questions about his family and a few other things, and his voice would be recorded. Then a cheek swab would be later used to register his DNA.

Then while this was entered in the database and cross checked to see if he was already in it, the laptop would print him out a laminated ID card with his picture on the front of it, and encrypted 3D bar code on the back. No text that could be read by anyone else, except those that had a scanner.

From that point forward, his ID card would be part of a national census, his voter registration, his ration card, his key to government services, his criminal record, and would automatically alert if he was far from home or had outstanding wants or warrants.

Now, as repulsive as this would be to Americans, it might shave a year or three off a military occupation, which in turn might save a lot of our soldiers lives and help us to leave that country faster.

Anyone who kept their ID card with them would get a quick pass, but to not have their ID card would mean they would be detained until they could be identified and issued a card. Cards would be extremely difficult to fake, and easy to cross check.

People under a military occupation should expect to be under tight control until order is restored. And to deny the enemy the ability to hide in plain sight would be worth its weight in gold.

3 posted on 01/14/2009 4:21:04 PM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: SandRat
Army Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, commander of Multinational Division Center, said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has pledged that Baghdad will do all it can to prevent defrauding of the Jan. 31 provincial elections by internal and external forces.

Maybe if we had him working in the States, Franken would not be leading in the Senate race.

Do ya think he could kill ACORN?

4 posted on 01/15/2009 5:05:25 AM PST by Retired COB (Still mad about Campaign Finance Reform)
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