Graphic from MSNBC
The Iraqis have started voting in their election. There have been reports of sporatic violence, but Sunni turn out appears to be high. From MSNBC:
Already, there were indications of a large turnout in the country's more than 33,000 polling stations, especially among Sunni Arab voters who boycotted the last election on Jan. 30.
Sunnis appeared to be turning out in large numbers even in insurgent bastions such as Ramadi and Haqlaniyah in an effort to curb the power of Shiite clerical parties who now control the government. Major insurgent groups had promised not to attack polling stations, and some polling centers in Ramadi were guarded by masked gunmen.
I came here and voted in order to prove that Sunnis are not a minority in this country, said lawyer Yahya Abdul-Jalil in Ramadi. We lost a lot during the last elections, but this time we will take our normal and key role in leading this country.
Teacher Khalid Fawaz in Fallujah said he also participated so that the Sunnis are no marginalizednalized.
This is the day to get our revenge from Saddam, said Kurdish voter Chiman Saleh, a Kirkuk housewife who said two of her brothers were killed by the ousted regime.
This is a key day for sucess in Iraq. If a viable, equitable government emerges from these elections, then we're just a little closer to sucess. If the Sunnis are given an equal chance, and feel that they have not been stripped of their power and their say, then this might reduce some of the insurgency. It worked for Sadr, and his Mahdi Army. It might also drain some of the support for the Zarqawi-types who are really just interested in destruction and not building Iraq.
My optimism is very guarded, but I'm hopeful for the Iraqi people.