Iraq: Al-Qaida Leaders Killed, Election Recount
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
For more, we've got NPR's Baghdad bureau chief Quil Lawrence on the line. Good morning.
QUIL LAWRENCE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: Let's begin with the deaths of those al-Qaida operatives.
LAWRENCE: But now, U.S. officials and Iraqi officials are insisting that they have perfect evidence that this was, in fact, the leader of this Islamic State of Iraq group.
MONTAGNE: Now, when this news came out, Vice President Joe Biden called this potentially devastating to al-Qaida there in Iraq. What does it look like from that end?
LAWRENCE: I'd have to say Iraqis are quite cynical about this. When Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed back in 2006, we heard similar things about how this was going to be a huge blow to al-Qaida, and it really continued with no visible effect on the insurgency.
MONTAGNE: Let's get to the vote recount. What is expected there? I mean, what are the consequences of having to recount by hand two-plus million votes?
LAWRENCE: And the real question is whether people will accept the results if they change. Voters have indicated that they're already suspicious of the results, and this might just increase distrust.
MONTAGNE: And, Quil, just a last question - I'd like to ask you about a story that ran in the L.A. Times this week. It documented a secret prison system run by the Shiite-led government, in which Sunnis have been tortured. Is this story an indication or a sign of a return to Iraq's sectarian dirty war?
LAWRENCE: The prime minister told the L.A. Times that when he discovered that this was going on, he shut it down. But certainly, Sunni families of these men are not accepting that the prime minister himself wasn't involved. And it really raises questions about whether the sectarian violence is over or just dormant here in Iraq.
MONTAGNE: Quil, thanks very much.
LAWRENCE: Thank you, Renee.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Quil Lawrence, speaking to us from Baghdad.
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