An Encouraging Sign

Iraqi women cast their votes for the Iraqi election at a polling station in the town of Az Zubayr, in southern Iraq, Thursday Dec. 15, 2005. Elections for a 275-member National Assembly took place across Iraq on Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) AP

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
Headline on the Iraqi elections: the Sunnis voted. Advised not to the last round, the Sunnis felt shut out of the process of developing a governmental framework. This time the Sunnis voted like their future depended on it. Could this be the big break?

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi gets all the headlines as being al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, sort of the head terrorist. But much of the insurgency is rooted in old allies of Saddam Hussein — Bathists, Sunnis.

Are the Sunnis choosing the ballot box over bullets? If true, this is huge. The insurgency relies on at least a degree of compliance from Sunnis and if the larger population now believes they should invest in the future — and not the past — the insurgency will lose much of its ability to act.

I spoke with an election observer in Baghdad, who was encouraged by what he saw. What are the chance this works? He said 50/50.



Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith
By Harry Smith
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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