Bringing Democracy to Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 15 - A conference of more than 1,100 Iraqis chosen to take the country a crucial step further toward constitutional democracy convened in Baghdad on Sunday under siege-like conditions, only to be thrown into disorder by delegates staging angry protests against the American-led military operation in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

After an opening speech by Iraq’s interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, delegates leapt out of their seats demanding the conference be suspended. One Shiite delegate stormed the stage before being forced back, shouting, “We demand that military operations in Najaf stop immediately!”

Shortly afterward, two mortar shells fired at the area where the meeting was being held landed in a bus and truck terminal nearby, killing 2 people and wounding at least 17.

The three-day conference, called to elect a 100-member commission that is to organize elections in January and hold veto powers over decrees passed by the Allawi government, was not halted. But reporters who had been told to wear flak jackets and helmets when entering the convention center complex past American tanks were frantically waved back from the center’s plate glass windows as the mortar shells exploded, shaking the complex and rattling the windows.

In many ways, the scene seemed like a metaphor for America’s problems in Iraq, with the rebel attacks that have spread to virtually every Sunni and Shiite town across this country of 25 million threatening to overwhelm plans for three rounds of national elections next year, ending with a fully elected government in January 2006.

No WMD. No Al Qaida ties. Not so much with the human rights (Abu Garibe and the reported abuses of Allawi’s regime). But we’re gonna bring them the infectious hope of democracy that will spread around the region like a beacon of light.

At least until Rove figures out our new reason for being in Iraq when this one falls apart too.

Doesn’t sound so bad to me, shortly after the interruption they decided to create a commision to look into the Najaf problem, and are now looking to send a delegation there to try and negotiate a settlement.

Things would go so much faster if we’d just give those damn workers the shoes they’re asking for.