iraqigirlpurplefinger.jpg

Jan. 31: An Iraqi girl holds up an ink-stained finger after her parents voted in the country’s provincial elections in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, Iraq.

Growing up in Iraq for this generation of Iraqi children will be very different than it was for their parents. The color purple will signify something entirely different than it did for their parents because it will not be the sickening purple of bruises resulting from beatings inflicted because they dared to speak out against the brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein.

The brilliant choice of the color purple as the indelible ink to be used for proof that an individual Iraqi voted has also provided an indelible image of the courage of the Iraqi people to the world.

Millions of Iraqi citizens stepped over the rubicon from chaos to Democracy in the election in 2005 and as the nation has reached considerable more stability the Iraqi people again took advantage of the privilege a Democratic government provides. The color, purple has always been associated with royalty, regality, and nobility and with the election today, millions of Iraqis earned their colors.

While the news media’s been consumed with coverage of all things Obama, a man-made miracle happened today in Iraq and it was brought to the world, courtesy of the steadfast leadership of the former President of the United States, George W. Bush. He listened to and appointed General David Petraeus to lead the United States Military in that all important Surge which brought victory and provided more safety to the Iraqi people.

This election was truly a victory for the Iraqi people because they ran it themselves.

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s provincial elections have wrapped up without any reports of serious violence.

Polls closed at 6 p.m. (10 a.m. EST) on Saturday — an hour later than planned — after millions of voters cast ballots for influential regional councils around most of Iraq. There were no reports of major violence.

Iraqi authorities imposed a huge security operation around the country that included traffic bans in major cities and extensive checkpoints and surveillance posts. The U.S. military also was out in force but did not take a direct role in the election security.

Results from the elections are not expected before Tuesday.

Iraqis passed through security checkpoints and razor-wire cordons to vote Saturday in provincial elections that are considered a crucial test of the nation’s stability as U.S. officials weigh the pace of troop withdrawals.

Polls opened shortly after dawn after a step-by-step security clampdown across the country, including traffic bans in central Baghdad and other major cities and closure of border crossings and airports.

More.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has hailed a largely peaceful vote for new provincial councils across the country as a victory for all Iraqis.

Voting was extended by one hour due to a strong turnout, including among Sunni Muslims who boycotted the last polls.

“I consider it a great success, like a wedding.”

Iraqi forces are determined to show they can keep security in the country as U.S. troops begin to withdraw almost six years after the invasion to overthrow Saddam.

Maliki, who claims credit for improving security, aims to use the election to build a power base in the provinces before national polls later this year. Sunni Arab groups who boycotted the last provincial polls hope to win a share of local power.

There was something of a holiday atmosphere in many parts of the country. In normally traffic-choked Baghdad, children took advantage of a ban on cars to play soccer in the streets.

“How can we not vote? All of us here have always complained about being oppressed and not having a leader who represented us. Now is our chance,” said Basra voter Abdul Hussein Nuri.

In the only reported incidents countrywide, mortar rounds landed in former dictator Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit but no one was hurt, and Iraqi troops shot one person dead and wounded another after a quarrel in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum.

U.S. forces killed two Iraqi police officers during a raid in Mosul in early morning before polls opened. The circumstances were not fully explained.

In addition, five candidates were assassinated in the run-up to Saturday’s election — three just two days before the vote.

“Those who want to pull down the electoral process as a whole have just not been able to get off the ground. That … is a very positive sign,” said Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert at the University of London.

The 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq had patrols on the streets and helicopters in the sky but mostly kept a low profile. A U.S. armored column was seen weaving down a Baghdad street between children and rocks placed in the road as makeshift soccer goals.

“So far, so good. The significance? Historic,” U.N. Special Representative Staffan de Mistura told Reuters at a polling station in a Baghdad school. “We have seen quite a flux of participants … The rules have been applied quite strictly. I’ve also been seeing quite a good organizational system.”

There’s so much that’s good in this, my eyes fill with tears and I can’t begin to list all the insightful people who are taking note of this most historic day so I will let The Anchoress do it. She has so many of them already. Go see and forget all the dark, foreboding nonsense coming out of the Obama administration. Many of us supported President Bush from the begining in his decision to fight the war on terror and to invade Iraq and free the people from that mad tyrant. We have the right to share in the joy.

May the nation of Iraq continue to bloom and grow.