Reactions to Iraq's election

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Anchor Marco Werman reports that observers around the world have moved reactions to the election in Iraq, and what it could mean for the United States and the Middle East.

MARCO WERMAN: While there's a sense of optimism in Iraq over this weekend's vote, outside observers are mixed about what the election means for the rest of the Middle East and for the U.S. Richard Murphy worked in the Reagan administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs. He says there's no way to know how the post-election period will play out.

RICHARD MURPHY: The hope is that the results will show a turning away from sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni parties and a further step on the road to building political coalitions which cross over and which cross over as well between Arab Iraqis and Kurdish Iraqis.

WERMAN: But there's a long way to go between now and then. Joost Hilterman is with the International Crisis Group. He's in Iraq to monitor the elections. He says these elections were extremely important, mostly in a technical sense. For starters, it's a first time voters were able to pick single candidates, rather than having to choose a block of candidates from one political party. And the elections were run by Iraqis, not Americans. Even so, Hilterman points out that this is not a remaking of the Middle East as was originally promised by George W. Bush. We reached Hilterman on a cell phone in northern Iraq.

JOOST HILTERMAN: They're still very far from forming a government. It could take months. And then once the American combat troops have left, really we face still a very dangerous time. So I wouldn't, if we pass all of that, in one piece, then I would be willing to draw some conclusions beyond Iraq. But for now, I would be very, very cautious.

WERMAN: Meanwhile, in the broader Middle East, yesterday's elections are barely registering. Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian analyst based in Amman, Jordan.

DAOUD KUTTAB: Palestinians are too involved in their conflict to worry about things. Right now Palestinians are involved in Palestine, Iraqis are too involved in Iraq to worry about each other.

WERMAN: And the original U.S. goal of spreading democracy isn't really taking root says former diplomat Richard Murphy. He says the region is made up of autocracies not inclined to launch free and fair elections any time soon.

MURPHY: They're watching. They don't know how it's going to play out. But I don't think it stimulated any groundswell of admiration for what we would like to see in terms of a more democratic, politically speaking democratic system throughout the Middle East.

WERMAN: And as for Washington, the analysts agree it's too early to know whether there'll be any real political boost from the Iraq elections. Again, the International Crisis Group's Joost Hilterman:

HILTERMAN: If they pass successfully in terms of not only producing results that the losing parties accept, but also in terms of forming a new government, then the Obama administration can cry victory in a way and say listen, we accomplished this and now we can safely withdraw combat troops.

WERMAN: But there's a real possibility that a government won't be formed by the August deadline the Obama administration has given for withdrawal.