KARMA, Iraq (CNN) -- The concept of democracy appears to have taken root in the dusty town of Karma, a predominantly Sunni community of 75,000 people about nine miles (15 kilometers) northeast of Falluja.
Karma sprawls for miles along the canals of the Euphrates River, with its little communities of sandy brick houses, each separated by the bright colors of laundry hanging out to dry. Patches of bright green grass dot the landscape. Herds of sheep and goats drink from the river while children run behind Humvees screaming "Mister! Mister!" as Marines on their daily patrols throw them candy.
Troops from the Regimental Combat Team 7 (RCT-7) of the 1st Marine Division meet with local leaders, sheiks and the people of Karma to try to gauge their sentiment about the upcoming elections. They distribute flyers that read: "Participate in the elections to build a strong Iraq" and "Vote! The future is in your hands."
But many villagers are not as interested in talking about the elections as they are about the lack of petrol, gas, electricity and work. They say they receive their information about the elections from TV and say no one has campaigned or even hung campaign posters in their community.
Although most say they don't know who the candidates are or where to vote, they say they will vote come January 30.
Read more of this story by Arma Damon by clicking here.
Now contrast that reporting with an Iraqi blogger, who celebrated the New Year by writing this on his blog:
As for the elections, they are doing their best to intimidate and threaten people. What can be more abominable than this; openly intimidating people from participating in the first truly free elections in the history of not only Iraq but also probably the entire region. And what lame excuses they give! The security situation? But it is you gentlemen who are responsible for the havoc. And; what guarantee can there be if the elections are postponed that the situation will not get worse? In fact, we all know that you will do your damn best to aggravate it further in the vane hope that you might achieve your vile objectives. Fair elections cannot be held under occupation! : As if we ever saw any fair elections when there was no “occupation” for almost a whole century when your minority clan was lording over the people. Besides, Palestinian elections were recently held under Israeli occupation, and we did not see anybody objecting. You are not telling us that the Israeli occupation is better than the presence of the MNF who have liberated the country from your tyranny. Oh, and they want a precise timetable for the MNF to leave. That, we assure you does not stem from any patriotic sentiment. You can be certain that within few hours from the departure of the last American soldier, the old Saddam military and security apparatus will reemerge from their holes, reinforced this time with the vampires of the Bin Laden clan and their likes. The pogrom that would ensue then would be a horror unparalleled in the entire history of genocide and mass murder. In fact, it would be merciful, if our American friends “nuke” the whole place before leaving (to use the cute expression I have read somewhere). That would eliminate the scum while giving the rest of the population a quick death, which is better than the horrible torture that could await them; a kind of mercy killing, you might say: Euthanasia.
Well, I am sorry, but these are horrible thoughts for the New Year. Nevertheless, do not go thinking that we have weakened. This time America is right, and the Iraqi people will never allow the clock to be turned back. No matter what sacrifices are required: We Shall Overcome.
Love to all our friends in America and elsewhere: You shall be proud of the Iraqi people, your grateful friends.
To read more of Salaam's comments on the situation in Iraq, click here.
The difference in tone is amazing, isn't it!
This Sunday I'll be attending (via the internet)a conference in Washington D.C. to get the latest news and photos from Iraq. I'll be posting about the election here, trying to give you a feel for what is actually happening without the benefit of a leftist prejudice against the proceedings.