Related Post: And on the Eighth Day - Hopes and Fears over the Obama Foreign Policy
4:30 p.m. Two Iraqi policemen have been killed by US soldiers in the north of the country.
4 p.m. President Obama has issued a statement "congratulat[ing] the people of Iraq on holding significant provincial elections today. This important step forward should continue the process of Iraqis taking responsibility for their future."
3:20 p.m. How far has US foreign policy come in less than two weeks? Well, at least on Somalia, 180 degrees' distance. The US Embassy in Somalia has welcomed the election of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leader of the Islamic Courts Movement that Washington overthrew (behind Ethiopian troops) in 2006.
3 p.m. Another positive for the US Government on Election Day in Iraq: the monthly death toll in the country from violence is at its lowest level since 2003, according to icasualties.org.
10:15 a.m. The polls for provincial elections in Iraq have closed without any reports of serious violence.
10 a.m. Taliban leader Mullah Mohamad Rasul has warned President Obama that the despatch of more US troops to Afghanistan will lead to bloodshed: "During the Bush administration the suicide bombers were registering individually, but now they are coming in groups. The whole nation is ready for the fight."
6:30 a.m. This may be the biggest news that goes unreported today by many in the media in the US and Britain. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has been sworn in as President of Somalia. Ahmed, who heads the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, won the run-off vote of members of Parliament by 293 votes to 126 over the son of ex-president Mohamed Siad Barre.
Ahmed's election effectively undoes one of the most ill-considered policies of the George W. Bush Administration. He leads the Islamic Courts Union, which was overthrown in 2006 by US-backed Ethiopian forces.
A Somalian journalist reports celebrations on the streets of Mogadishu: ""[Somalians] think he is the best leader ever [to be] chosen as president of Somalia since 1960, when the country gained independence."
Ahmed's election, however, only raises the next question. The vote was held in Djibouti, where the Parliament has been isolated since Islamic insurgents took over the Somalian capital Baidoa last week. So can he reconcile the different Islamic factions?
Morning update (2 a.m. Washington): Iraq returns to centre-stage today, with the first major elections since January 2005. If all goes well in the votes for provincial representatives, it will be a major public relations victory for US foreign policy.
Amidst tight security, the only attacks reported so far are three mortar shells fired in Tikrit. There were no casualties.