"If there is no election on Jan. 30, Iraq faces a civil war." \nThis has been the constant warning from members of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's government. \nWhat they do not mention is that the danger of a civil war will not necessarily be reduced by the first countrywide elections to be held in Iraq. \nAn unrepresentative result that leaves the Sunni minority in the central provinces around Baghdad further isolated could even lead, in a worst-case scenario, to the state breaking apart. \nIraqis are almost certain to vote in a transitional assembly dominated by Shiite Arabs, which in turn will lead to increased influence by religious scholars. \nAnd the government put into office by this parliament is likely to outrage the Sunni insurgents and extremists just as much as Allawi's current interim government. \nIn Iraq, where almost all the major political movements have armed militiamen at their disposal, there is in any case a danger that the struggle for political power will be pursued with weapons once the elections are over. \nThe electoral system, based on proportional representation across the whole country, provides problems of its own. \nIt is seen as advantageous to the ethnic minorities and the Kurds, who were once subject to forcible removal by Saddam Hussein. \nBut it could work against the large Sunni minority, as a low turnout is expected in the provinces where they predominate. \nThe preparations for Iraq's elections can hardly be seen as a democratic election campaign in the normal sense. \nFear of terrorist attack prevented the candidates for the 275 seats in the new parliament from delivering campaign speeches in public. \nThis factor has worked in favor mainly of the members of the interim government, who in the final weeks have used their positions to ensure that they are constantly in the media spotlight, pushing their lists. \nElection day will bring its own dangers for those Iraqis who intend to ignore the threats and warnings from the extremists and cast their ballots. \nMost Iraqis are expected to vote for the lists representing their respective ethnic and religious background. \nThis should work to the advantage of the Kurdish parties and of the United Iraqi Alliance, which is dominated by Shiite religious leaders. \nAmong the secular parties, the communists believe they have a chance of making a good showing, as they look back on a long political tradition in Iraq and were brutally persecuted by the Saddam regime. \nVoters who mistrust the religious leaders can also choose between the political groups represented respectively by interim President Ghazi al-Yawer and his rival interim Prime Minister Allawi. \nBut both have to battle against the image problem of having been appointed to their posts while the US held sway. \nThe Shiite religious leaders under Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani support the United Iraqi Alliance, claiming that the elections are the right way to end the occupation. \nBut the chaotic conditions in much of Iraq suggest that a victory by the main Shiite list under Abdul Aziz al-Hakim will not in fact lead to a call for the US forces to leave. \nIn Washington, however, there are increasing calls for an orderly withdrawal from the Iraqi quagmire. \nAfter Saddam's weapons of mass destruction -- a central reason for last year's invasion -- turned out to be a chimera and following the scandal around torture at Abu Ghraib prison, it is unlikely that US President George W. Bush will be able simply to abandon the country to its fate. \nSeasoned observers draw up a grim balance sheet for the past year. Iraq has become a magnet for Islamist terrorists of every stripe from all over the Arab world. More than 1,300 US soldiers have lost their lives. \nAnd the number of Iraqis killed in the war itself and the subsequent terror attacks, although unknown, reaches into the tens of thousands.
An outrageous dismissal of the exemplary Taiwanese fight against COVID-19 has been perpetrated by the EU. There is no excuse. I presume that everyone who reads the Taipei Times knows that the EU has excluded Taiwan from its so-called “safe list,” which permits citizens unhindered travel to and from the countries of the EU. As the EU does not feel that it needs to explain the character of this exclusive list, perhaps we should examine it ourselves in some detail. There are 14 nations on the list that have been chosen as safe countries of origin and safe countries of destination for
Filmmakers in Taiwan used to struggle when it came to telling a story that could resonate internationally. Things started to change when the 2017 drama series The Teenage Psychic (通靈少女), a collaboration between HBO Asia and Taiwanese Public Television Service (PTS), became a huge hit not just locally, but also internationally. The coming-of-age story was adapted from the 2013 PTS-produced short film The Busy Young Psychic (神算). Entirely filmed in Taiwan, the Mandarin-language series even made it on HBO’s streaming platforms in the US. It is proof that a well-told Taiwanese story can absolutely win the hearts and minds of hard-to-please
Drugged with sedatives, handcuffed and wearing a bright orange prison tunic, British fraud investigator and former journalist Peter Humphrey was escorted by warders into an interrogation room filled with reporters, locked inside a steel cage and fastened to a metal “tiger chair.” Humphrey recalls: “I was completely surrounded by officers, dazed, manacled and with cameras pointing at me through the bars. I was fighting for my life like a caged animal. It was horrifying.” Footage from the interrogation was later artfully edited to give the appearance of a confession and broadcast on Chinese state media. While this might sound like an
If anyone had harbored hope that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) was to bring about much-needed reform to his party, those hopes have now been dashed. The pathetic publicity stunt of the KMT’s short-lived “occupation” of the Legislative Yuan on Sunday and Monday last week failed on so many levels, it is difficult to know where to start. Seeing Chiang at the scene was disappointing and raises the question of why he allowed it to happen. The farce began when KMT legislators barricaded themselves into the legislative chamber. However, they were kicked out only 19 hours later, just in