#14: Kindy-Lugar correspondence
Dear Friends, Family, and All Good People,
What follows is my response to Senator Lugar's letter about the election here in Iraq. His letter to me follows mine to him. The situation in Fallujah is taking on more import as new revelations are uncovered.
Love to each of you,
Dear Senator Lugar,
Yes, your comments about the election in Iraq were accurate. The difficult part is
that you did not include some other pieces of information about the election.
As Christian Peacemaker Teams, we have been in Iraq for three and a
half years. On election day we were in Kerbala as election observers,
approved by the Iraq Electoral Commission. We were only at three polling
sites, but were able to talk with election observers in other
cities and the national electoral commission staff.
The election was carried out as the country was occupied by US troops and
under heavy attack from resistance fighters and a very strong insurgency.
In Anbar Province, two percent of the eligible voters did vote. The boycott
of the election by the Sunni population was nearly total in places like
Fallujah, the Death Triangle south of Baghdad, and the region around Baquba in
the Diyala region. In Mosul there were difficulties with insufficient
ballots, polling places that did not open, and polling staff that were
intimidated and not trained sufficiently because the 800 staff for that area
had resigned under threat. The three hundred election staff in Anbar Province also resigned, though some were used in the national office in Baghdad. Even Baghdad only had a turnout of about 65% of the REGISTERED voters. Eleven suicide bombers and frequent other attacks, in Baghdad alone, made it very difficult to have conditions suitable for genuine elections.
The US assault on Fallujah in November was for the purpose of preparing for
fair and safe elections. You and I still do not know the story of Fallujah.
It is clear, at a minimum, that most of the population fled or was forced
from this city that is larger than Ft. Wayne. Hospitals were attacked,
mosques were demolished, and there are no records of who and how many people
were killed in the assault. Even now, homes are still being destroyed.
Those who have entered speak of a wasteland that mirrors Hiroshima. The
other two locations where US forces fought heavily before the election were
the other two areas that had the lowest voter turnout - the Death Triangle
In Fallujah, bodies are still covered with rubble. Soldiers warn those
returning not to be risk exposure to items that remain in the city. There
are reports circulating of illegal weapons being used by the US soldiers in
the assault. One writer reports that it was the most massive armored
invasion in history against a population that was equipped with hand
Professional medical persons are still being refused entry. The media does
not have free access to document what has happened to the city. Refugee
camps are scattered around Iraq and some of the refugees we have visited (a
refugee camp of 1300 on the campus of Baghdad University) say they will not
return as long as US soldiers remain in the city. We need an investigation
by an international body, perhaps UN, to uncover the reality that continues
I would encourage you to visit Iraq and see the quagmire into which the United States is being dragged. There are promises of replacing US troops with
Iraqi security. You should have seen the report that, perhaps, only
5000 of those already trained are capable of carrying that task. Even the Shi'a
population is not supportive of a continuing US military presence. Yes, a
few Iraqis who were in exile have indicated support for an ongoing US
presence, but what about the Iraqi population? Remember, the exiles have
not had a support base in Iraq itself. Your sources of news need to continue to be
very broad. The decisions made in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about
this region will shape the future of both Iraq and the US.
Prayers for your clarity and wisdom,
Cliff Kindy, with CPT in Iraq
February 14, 2005
Dear Mr. Kindy,
Thank you for your most recent correspondence. I appreciated the
opportunity to hear about your continuing experiences in Iraq, and
appreciate this opportunity to respond.
As you know, elections in Iraq were completed successfully on January 30,
with millions of people voting. The Iraqi people demonstrated enormous
bravery in turning out at the polls in spite of the threats levied by
insurgents. The scope of these elections included a 275-person National
Assembly, as well as regional bodies (provincial assemblies in each of
Iraq's 18 provinces and a Kurdistan regional assembly). The elected National
Assembly will select a Presidency council, comprising a president and two
deputy presidents, who then choose a prime minister by consensus.
Following the elections, I was interviewed on a national news program
regarding the outcome in Iraq. I was asked about our long-term involvement
in Iraq. I said that we will remain in Iraq for a few years if necessary,
but that "If the training moves ahead, if the conference of the assembly
begins to have credibility, Iraqis are going to negotiate with us for a .
withdrawal . the whole idea of occupation will dissipate to the extent that
there is a successful assembly, successful security." Interim President
Allawi has said that by the end of 2005, there will be 200,000 Iraqis with
sufficient training and ability to monitor and protect voting citizens and
to secure the country.
As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will closely follow
these elections and other events in Iraq. During the last two years the
Committee has held 24 hearings on Iraq to facilitate a wide-ranging public
dialogue on the war, and to examine the details of Administration policy.
The Committee's most recent hearing on Iraq occurred on February 1, where we
discussed the outcome of the elections and the road ahead. You may be
interested to visit the Committee website, where you can read more about
this and other hearings pertaining to Iraq, at www.foreign.senate.gov
Iraq, and thank you, again, for writing.
Richard G. Lugar
United States Senator