Some 6,000 polling stations across the country opened for business at 7am (0400 GMT). More than 14,400 candidates, including nearly 4,000 women, representing 407 parties as well as independent lists and individual challengers, are vying for just 440 seats on the 14 provincial councils.Look, Obama, we won the battle of Iraq. It wasn't pretty, but we did it. Everyone is supposed to be hoping you will be successful, can't you acknowledge this success? I realize it would be too much to expect you to acknowledge our military and George Bush, but can't you offer personal congratulations to the Iraqis, at least? Or are you still invested in failure?
Initial results are expected in several days. But it could take weeks of backroom bargaining to determine which parties have gained control of pivotal areas such as Baghdad, the Shia-dominated south and volatile provinces like Nineveh to the north, where Kurds and Arabs are battling for control.
Update: 6:34PM Obama got around to it.
Obama said the elections for the provincial council seats were significant, peaceful and important steps toward Iraqis taking responsibility for their future. His statement did not address complaints from local officials that the Shiite-led government attempted to keep the minority Sunnis from full participation.Emphasis mine.
"Millions of Iraqi citizens from every ethnic and religious group went peacefully to the polls across the country to choose new provincial councils," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "It is important that the councils get seated, select new governors and begin work on behalf of the Iraqi people who elected them."
Obama also noted that the U.S. provided technical assistance to the Iraqi electoral commission, as did the U.N. and other international groups. He didn't, however, mention the U.S. troops that patrolled the country -- away from voting booths -- while the new Obama administration in Washington considers a new strategy for the unpopular war in Iraq.
"...new strategy for the unpopular war in Iraq"? We won. The unpopular war is now nation building and police action, what would a new "war" strategy be?