Operation "Block the Vote"
The timing of Operation Iron Fist (unhappy evocation of Ariel Sharon) has finally raised questions. Parliamentary Speaker Hajem al-Hassani has spoken out against it, saying it was a deliberate attempt by Washington to dissuade Sunnis from going to the polls on October 15. The offensives have emptied out several villages and towns along the upper Euphrates sending thousands of innocent Sunni civilians fleeing for their lives across the border.
Overriding the interests of Iraqis, George W. Bush is hell-bent on getting that draft Constitution ratified in the upcoming referendum. The President is cynically (What else is new?) deploying bombs and legislative endruns to make it happen. The UN has thwarted the parliamentary ploy to guarantee ratification of the draft Constitution by calling foul. But there is no referee in the western provinces to call a halt to the helicopter gunship missions.
Tel Afar, Rawa, Ramadi and dozens of other towns are deserted as former inhabitants have been forced camp in the desert--and far away from the ballot box.