News

    US Lawmakers Cautiously Optimistic About Iraqi Elections

    Michael Bowman

    Four weeks before historic national elections in Iraq, U.S. lawmakers of both parties are voicing cautious optimism about prospects for a successful, if imperfect, democratic exercise in the violence-wracked nation.

    Joseph Lieberman is one of a handful of Democratic Party senators who remains a stalwart defender of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein. Speaking on ABC's This Week program, Senator Lieberman said the month of January will bring, in his words, "historic transformation in the Middle East," with Palestinians choosing a president January 9 and Iraqis holding nation elections on January 30.

    Mr. Lieberman recently visited Iraq, and says he came away encouraged about the prospects for a successful election.

    "I think there is going to be a great turn-out [of voters] in the two-thirds of the country that is made up mostly of Shia and Kurds, and I think there is going to be a surprisingly good turn-out among the Sunnis who want to come out and vote," he predicted.

    Senator Lieberman said it would be a mistake to postpone the balloting, as some Iraqi Sunni politicians have urged.

    Mr. Lieberman acknowledged violence continues to plague election preparations, but said the vast number of Iraqis are eager to go to the polls.

    "The violence [in Iraq] is being carried out by a group of Saddam Hussein leftovers and by al-Qaida-related terrorists," he said. "They represent several thousand people out of a population of 25 million. They do not have popular support. The Iraqi people want to vote."

    Similar optimism was voiced by Republican Dick Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, who spoke on Fox News Sunday.

    "It would be very helpful if Sunnis participated in large numbers," said Senator Lugar. "The good news is that [voter] registration last week in Iraq was very substantial. I understand 2.1 million people came onto the rolls. This was all over the country."

    A cautionary note was sounded by Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who said that Iraq's neighbors can boost the chances for successful elections by what they say today.

    "That even though this election is going to have a lot of problems in terms of security, that Jordan plans on recognizing the outcome of this election - it takes away any excuses for Sunni leadership to boycott this election. We need that from the king of Jordan. We need that from Saudi leadership. We need that from Muslim countries," he said.

    Mr. Levin added that, so far, such statements have not been forthcoming.

    Iraq observers say the elections are likely to produce a Shiite leadership sympathetic to, or possibly allied with Iran, a nation President Bush once described as part of an "axis of evil." But Secretary of State Colin Powell predicted Iraq's Shiite population will, as he put it, "stand on their own two feet," and argued for faith in the democratic process.

    "What we have to do is look forward, and have a successful election, allow the Iraqi people to decide," said Mr. Powell. "The Saddam Hussein regime is gone, just as the Taleban regime in Afghanistan is gone. We have gotten rid of two terrible dictatorships, and what we have to do in 2005 is build democracy."

    Mr. Powell spoke on NBC's Meet the Press program.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.