International Information Programs
August 16, 2005

August 16, 2005





**  Observers say draft constitution is mired in "sectarian disputes" which may derail process.

**  "Success" or "failure" of constitution foretells Iraq's "future course."

**  Papers assert U.S. support for the war is in "decisive phase."   




Fate of draft constitution:  'Federal' or 'Islamic' Republic?--  Outlets described "inherent controversies" and "triangular bartering" among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds to reach consensus in constitutional deliberations on the role of regions, religion, and women.  Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung stated, "The conflict over federalism in Iraq plays a much greater role for ending the war [than the question on the future role of women]."  Iraq's anti-coalition Az-Zaman countered that "an Islamic identity is a reality for most Iraqis."  Turkey's centrist Milliyet noted that "a federation that embraces all Iraqi groups" would receive Ankara's support.  Jordan's independent Al-Ghad reiterated that "national unity" is "a real guarantee" necessary for Iraq's new constitution, but pointed out the country's "tendency for separatism."  Saudia Arabia's moderate Al-Jazira declared:  "The Iraqis must unite and build a political consensus to save their country." 


Iraq:  'model' for Arab 'democratization' or 'dictatorship'--  Media predicted Iraq's success drafting a "large and inclusive" constitution would make it a "model for others to follow" in the Arab world.  Conversely, the failure to do so could afford dictators the opportunity to "strengthen their control" in the region.  Britain's conservative Times opined there are sufficient Iraqis who "favor democratic institutions and the introduction of a pluralist society."  India's centrist Gujaratmitra said that Iraq's journey towards democracy is "not a smooth one," but it must "come from its own people" and not a foreign power.  In contrast, Denmark's Kristelight Dagblad asserted, the "future for Iraq looks bleak" and the "situation could develop into a civil war," that could "impact the entire Middle East."  France's right-of-center Le Figaro argued that the "foreseeable breakup" of Iraq among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds "makes Arabia fear the worst" while Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post cautioned, "democracy is a relatively new concept" in a region long ruled by "monarchs and autocratic leaders."


U.S. 'withdrawal plans' hinge on success of 'constitutional process'--  Analysts emphasized that "respecting the calendar" is "critical" for U.S. credibility to allow it to build on internal Iraqi "political successes," and "reverse the negative trend on the security front."  Germany's leftist die tageszeitung held that the "Bush administration wants to pull out of Iraq" and while withdrawal plans exist, "they can only be implemented if there is a political success."  Similarly, Italy's pro-Democratic Left Party l'Unita wrote that before the U.S. withdraws, it must "absolutely show the world that Iraqi leaders have reached an agreement."  Syria's government-owned Al-Thawra reiterated its belief that the U.S. intends to retreat from Iraq; while "Washington refuses to set a timetable," the U.S. "stresses the need to speed up the training of Iraqi forces" to replace American troops. 


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Susan Emerson


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 57 reports from 18 countries over 29 July - 16 August, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Nation-Building In Iraq"


The conservative Times took this view (8/16):  "The last-minute haggling, disagreements and delays in submitting a draft constitution to the Iraqi parliament were neither surprising nor disastrous....  Compromise was elusive, especially as each group faces intense factional pressure.  Extending the deadline would awkwardly prolong the interregnum.  But it was better to reach consensus than to railroad an anxious and resentful Sunni minority into a flawed, unsustainable agreement."


"Democracy, Fear And Distrust In A Divided Land"


The center-left Independent commented (8/16):  "It is not for the United States or the Western world to determine how Iraqis should order their affairs.  Yet it is manifestly not in Iraq's interest to trample on the rights of its minority groups.  The leaders of the majority Shia group are pressing to impose relatively strict Islamic law in Iraq, although the nation has a secular public tradition.  It is reasonable that Kurds and Iraqi women are seeking to resist this process.  And it is vital that their civil rights are protected in law."


"Conflicting Demands"


The independent Financial Times argued (8/16):  "Mr. Bush may lament the disjuncture between the 'generational commitment' he and Condoleezza Rice, U.S. secretary of state, say is needed to advance freedom in the Middle East and the reality of U.S. electoral politics.  But he has only himself to blame.  By making Iraq and the war on terror a partisan issue, Mr. Bush spurned the chance to build a bipartisan consensus of the kind that supported a generational U.S. commitment during the cold war.  Constructing one now will require fundamental changes in the way the White House does business."


"A More Equal Iraq"


Conservative Daily Telegraph opined (8/15):  "It is worth reminding ourselves of what this new constitution aims to replace.  Under Saddam, Iraqis did not enjoy property rights, democratic elections, habeas corpus, independent magistrates or regional autonomy.  As a result of what has been drawn up, they will be freer and more secure, and able to change their lawmakers through the ballot box.  And they will do so on the basis of a constitution framed by their own elected representatives rather than one imposed on them by a foreign power (as in 1925) or by a revolutionary clique (as in 1958 and 1964)."


"Iraq Must Reject A Constitution That Enslaves Women"


Houzan Mahmoud, UK Head of the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq and co-founder of the Iraq Freedom Congress, commented in center-left Independent (8/15):  "Today is the deadline for Iraq's ruling political classes to agree [to] a brand new 'constitution' for the country--but don't be deceived, this is likely to be nothing but another false dawn for Iraq's women....  The constitution is set to add to a growing fearfulness among Iraq women, as their rights are passed over or signed away to Islamists hostile to Iraq's entire female population.  Women in Iraq face being dragged back into the dark ages....  A constitution based on enslaving women, religious sectarianism, and tribalism must be rejected."


"Iraq's Slow Slide Into Civil War:  The Sunni-Shia Conflict Could Easily Become Regional"


The independent Financial Times penned (8/8):  "The new constitution, due to be finalised this week, is mired in sectarian disputes that it could worsen rather than resolve.  Upbeat declarations from Washington sound unrealistic, aimed at reassuring Americans more than Iraqis.  Sunni and Shia clerics are trying to halt this slide into war.  This will not stop the jihadis, but could undermine their support base.  Leaders of all communities need to invest Iraq's emerging institutions with legitimacy for the alienated Sunni to participate, and for the Shia to make sure that they can.  This is the only remaining hope."


"Changing The Balance:  Britain Should Do More To Promote Democracy In Southern Iraq"


The conservative Times judged (8/5):  "There are...individuals and organisations in Basra and elsewhere in Iraq that strongly favor democratic institutions and the introduction of a pluralist society.  A police force that is politically and religiously neutral is an important part of that process.  If it is correct, as [Steven] Vincent charged, that little or no effort is being made to promote these values in police training at present, then that has to be rectified.  If in general more can be done to advance a democratic culture, this should be undertaken.  Some officials believe, Vincent claims, that such an attempt to boost democracy would reek of 'colonialism'.  Democracy is the opposite of colonialism and the antagonist of authoritarianism."


FRANCE:  "President Bush’s Crucial Summer"


Pierre Rousselin remarked in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/12):  "Iraq is in a decisive phase.  The deadline for the constitution is set for Monday.  And in spite of the serious questions still unanswered, the Bush administration continues to think that the deadline will be met.  For Bush, a compromise that would satisfy the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds would be a beautiful success…that would give substance to the generous idea of 'democratizing’ the Arab world.  Conversely, failure on the constitution would make things worse for the U.S. and its coalition allies."


"The Many Worries Of Old King Abdallah"


Antoine Basbous, Director of the Observatory of Arab Countries, posited in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/5):  "Saudis want change:  some want more Islamization.  Others a constructional monarch and a state of law....  Arabia suffers from an absolute monarchy, totally broken off from modernity.  It is a kingdom of corruption and a general mess.  Justice is archaic and depends on the powers....  Saudi Wahibbites provide kamikazes to the jihad in Iraq, as well as generous financing.  The foreseeable break-up of this country between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds makes Arabia fear the worst.  Because this logic risks to contaminate an Arabia unified by the sword in 1932 and which has no more reason to remain united than the defunct USSR and the former Yugoslavia....  Arabia is at high risk to remain, along with Iraq and Iran, at the heart of the epicenter of the crisis arc that will continue to trouble the international order for decades to come."


"The Iraqi Calendar"


Pierre Rousselin commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/8):  "Iraqi leaders have a week to reach an agreement on the constitution....  If the U.S. is pushing so hard for the August 15 date to be honored, it is because of its own November 2006 political agenda....  From now till then President Bush will do all he can to show that his Iraqi policy is a success....  Respecting the calendar in Iraq is also important for symbolic reasons:  until now the constitution has been Washington’s main political success in Iraq, with the January elections.  Washington is hoping that a new political success in Iraq will reverse the negative trend on the security front.  Since the end of July, attacks on U.S. troops have grown.  But too much focus on the Iraqi calendar itself can detract from the final objective.  The task at hand is as arduous as it is crucial:  the objective is for the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunnis to agree on the Iraq of tomorrow, an Iraq for which America has mobilized all of its forces....  A major question is the role of

Islam in tomorrow’s Iraq.  The Americans will hardly accept for Iraq to become an Islamic Republic or for women to have to submit to the laws of the Charia....  The triangular bartering among the various ethnic and religious communities is looking too complex and the consequences are too ominous for the job to be rushed in a week."


GERMANY:  "Sobering"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/16):   "We need not ponder for a long time to find out why the U.S. government exerted so much pressure on the completion of the Iraqi constitutional draft:  the situation in Iraq has not relaxed.  Vice President Cheney may claim the opposite, but the number of U.S. [and Iraqi] terror victims is still very high and an increasing number of Americans consider an early withdrawal to be right....  It is still too early to take stock but this is clear:  Bush's presidency will fail or succeed with Iraq.  It must unnerve him that there are more and more voices from the Republican camp, who explicitly backed his original Iraq policy, but who are now disappointed, even dismayed at the things the U.S. occupation power did not achieve.  Only under the impression of never-ending waves of violence, the Bush government seems to have realized that its expectations were 'too optimistic' right from the start.  And now it cannot avoid the concession that it made political mistakes, did not know the situation in the country, and demonstrated administrative incapability.  A government that has planned the necessary transformation of the Muslim-Arab world and is willing to face the strategic challenges, especially should not have played up the time after the intervention.  But this new realism should now not change to the opposite....  If too much of a burden is now imposed on weak Iraqi institutions, because the main issue is the justification for the withdrawal of U.S. forces, then the democratic restructuring goal will first be watered down and then disappear.  Would the cost then have been worthwhile?"


"Say Sorry When Saying Good-Bye"


Peter Münch noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/16):  "[The U.S. administration] is saying good-bye softly, but the insight in this case is by no means a step to improve.  On the contrary, more than 1,800 fallen soldiers have certainly made an impression in the country that is increasingly realizing that its possibilities are limited.  Iraq is too much for the U.S. forces and it is getting increasingly difficult to find recruits for the Iraq mission.  The majority of Americans consider the mission a great failure and in the current social climate we can see the heralds of the Vietnam syndrome....  The climate is heating up...but a way out is not in sight.  But cheap lamenting over initial false assessments...will not help Americans get out of the fix in Iraq nor the Iraqis out of their devilish den.  A withdrawal of U.S. forces will not ease the situation.  The constantly increasing attacks have traced out the path to a civil war, and the helpless haggling over the Iraqi constitution shows that the political forces in the country are hardly able to keep the state together.  Fires are burning in Baghdad, Bakuba and Kirkuk but what are the unfortunate arsonists doing?  They look around to find a new object.  Iran, which is certainly not a harmless opponent...has now been pilloried.  In Washington, people are taking out their fire brigade uniforms again.  But first of all, they have taken out the matches."


"Limits When It Comes To Creating Happiness In the World"


Roger Klöppel noted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/16):  "When we take an overall look, the Iraq intervention is not a success story.  The hope for imposing a forced happiness on the desert state has thus far turned out to be a mirage.  The restructuring drafted by the neo-conservative threatening to fail because of the realities in country that has not been marked by Western traditions like the rule of law or by mentalities....  For the U.S. government, the Iraq war will turn into burden.  The opposition is gaining momentum.  The situation for the president is getting more difficult...and the question must be raised who still wants this war when the man who opened this war will leave after the end of his second term.  With every killed soldier, it will be getting more difficult to sell the engagement in Iraq to an increasingly skeptical public.  But the cause is not yet lost.  A new adjustment of U.S. foreign policy, the recently announced restructuring to non-military instruments allows the conclusion that [the U.S.] is seeking new, more diverse strategies.  But irrespective of this, the Iraq war also created collateral advantages.  On the one hand, the deterring effect to the neighborhood is considerable.  The mullahs in Iran but also the powers-that-be in Pyongyang have been healed from the illusion that the Americans are part of the...West that shows weaknesses in case of a threat.  On the other hand, the Iraq offensive showed the more idealistic figures in the Bush administration the limits of their high-flying plans."


"Tough Wrestling"


Erik-Michael Bader had this to say in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/15):  "It is not surprising that the regional and religious groups in Iraq have so much difficulty agreeing on a joint constitution…for the leadership of the three largest ethnic groups must fear that elements of the constitution could be disadvantageous for them, and that later the pressure of the timetable and the Americans, who are pressing for abiding to this table, will make amendments in hindsight impossible.  One of the greatest problems that cannot be avoided in shaping a federal structure for the future state is that the oil deposits are distributed unevenly....  If the state is structured in three parts, we must fear that one part will be excessively dependent on other parts because of a lack of oil revenue."




Mariam Lau predicted in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/15):   "While another deadline is passing for the adoption of a constitution, the Bush administration seems to gradually give up the hopes which it has had with respect to Iraq and its attractiveness to the outside.  If we believe Washington Post reports, neither the democratization nor economic autarky, neither national unity nor the secular constitution are considered feasible options among government representatives....  Those among us who advocated Saddam's ouster should not reject these facts because they are used by Bush opponents who give a damn about the fate of the Iraqi people.  The military part of the war went well, but what happened afterwards was a disaster.  If the administration comes to the conclusion that the U.S. forces are part of the problem rather than part of the solution, then it will withdraw them."


"If Only Iraq Were Not There"


Washington correspondent Christoph von Marschall filed the following editorial for centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (8/15):  "Iraq is now turning into an exposed flank for President Bush in the United States, too....  We are now witnessing noticeable doubts....  By the weekend, the president may have comforted himself with the prospect of an Iraqi democratic constitution…but even if the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds agree on the Constitutional draft today, it will disappoint America because women's rights and further fundamental principles do not equate western standards; because of the controversy over the establishment of a new state, the role of Islam and the oil revenue have not been settled but at best can be covered up; because Iraq does not prove to be the grateful state and can, therefore, not be considered a model for Arabia....  This begs two urgent questions for the Europeans.  How can they manage that America will not agree on an early withdrawal but stays in Iraq until the Iraqis can guarantee their own security?  And if Bush's path was obviously wrong what is their--practical--concept to bring democracy to Arabia and to dry up terrorism?"


"Recipe For A New War"


Tomas Avenarius wrote in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/12):  "Time is pressing, since the draft of the new Iraqi constitution is to be presented by Monday....  Time will tell how the various ethnic groups will reach an agreement.  At least the United States does not leave an opportunity to exert pressure....  It does not want any delay because the agreement is a precondition for the constitution to be presented to the Iraqi people in mid-October....  The U.S. government is convinced that it is able to cut the political ground from under the terrorists' feet with the establishment of democratic structures....  But neither the first free elections nor the installment of president and government have thus far been able to push back the rebels.  On the contrary, the underground war is getting even more brutal.  Why the new constitution is to change this remains Bush, Rice, and Rumsfeld's secret....  The conflict over federalism in Iraq plays a much greater role for ending the war [than the question on the future role of women].  Kurds and Shiites want to bury Saddam Hussein's centralized state and redistribute the country....  At first glance, this sounds like federalism, but indeed dangers are looming, for Kurds and Shiites want to create facts.  Obviously, they do not think that the Iraqi centralized state will survive, and possibly, they are not even interested in it.  The solution they have suggested will marginalize the Sunnis, who would remain empty-handed when it comes to the distribution of the country's raw material.  We do not see how such a 'federal constitution' can integrate the Sunnis.  But without the Sunnis, who are responsible for the rebellion, there will be no peace.  It is clear that the Kurds work…for their idea of their own Kurdish state. The Shiites seem to forge similar plans.  But a constitution that will be rushed by the Kurds, Shiites and Americans, who want to get rid of the self-inflicted chaos, will not end violence.  On the contrary, it could lead to far-reaching conflicts in the entire region." 


"Keeping Your Face"


Inga Rogg held in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (8/2):  "Washington commands and Baghdad follows.  Under U.S. pressure, the Iraqi constitution writers agreed to stick to the schedule for drafting the constitution.  They must now present a draft to the Parliament by August 15.  Given the matters of dispute, this appears to be illusionary but not impossible....  The conflicts between the large ethnic groups in Iraq are explosive.  To solve them could take years, but Washington does not have this time.  Given the many victims among the troops, the Bush administration wants to pull out of Iraq.  The withdrawal plans exist, but they can only be implemented if there is a political success, regardless of the price."


ITALY:  "And the U.S. Fights Over Reduction"


Michele Farina concluded in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (8/14):  "Blood and ink.  There seems to be no 'exit' from this 'exit.'  Sacrifice and Constitution.  It is the only possible exit strategy, according to U.S. President George Bush.  The Marines will remain in combat, while the Iraqis are preparing themselves to face the violence alone and the political process continues."


"U.N. Extends Presence in Iraq For Another Year"


Toni Fontana alleged in pro-Democratic Left Party (DS) daily l’Unita (8/12):  "Yesterday, the specter of dividing and parceling out Iraq loomed over Baghdad as the threat of constitutional negotiations ending in failure appears more concrete....  In New York, with a unanimous vote, the UN Security Council extended by one year the mandate of the Iraqi UN mission, which ends today and involves about sixty civilian and military personnel in Iraq....  On one hand, the U.S. increases pressure on Baghdad negotiators and on the other it boasts the intention to not withdraw.  Yesterday, after meeting with Rumsfeld and his security advisors, Bush said that ‘it would be a mistake to withdraw [coalition] troops from Iraq’ because of the many soldiers recently killed, and added that the announcement of the new constitution will occur on the pre-established date.  But these official truths are denied daily by facts.  Recently, General Casey, U.S. commander in Iraq, went to Najaf to discuss with Shiite leaders the modality of U.S. disengagement.  Najaf and Nassiryha could be the first cities where coalition forces would hand over control to Iraqis, but before proceeding down this road, the U.S. must absolutely show the world that Iraqi leaders have reached an agreement, which for now…seems very far away."


"Iraq, Vetoes Paralyze Constitution Negotiations"


Toni Fontana argued in pro-democratic Left-Party (DS) daily L’Unita (8/8):  "There may be an agreement in the end.  Maybe, as was leaked to the American press, negotiations will not end with the presentation of an official constitution, but with a shell agreement on some general principles.  For now, however, there appears to be no way out of the complicated situation in Iraq....  Yesterday Condolezza Rice strengthened the belief that the Americans are anxious to leave Iraq; in an interview, the Secretary of State supported the theory that ‘the insurgents are losing ground’ and in Baghdad they are ‘recording political progress.’  It is not clear on what information Rice based this conviction since, at the moment, including yesterday, reports from Iraq noted numerous violent actions."


RUSSIA:  "No Time For Constitution"


Alexander Samokhotkin noted in reformist Vremya Novostei (8/16):  "The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmai Khalilzad, who is personally taking part in talks on the draft constitution, has stated flatly that the document requires signatures by Sunni leaders, because extremist Sunnis prevail among Iraqi rebel leaders....  Moderate Sunnis, Americans believe, could serve as a political counterbalance to Iraq's radical Shiites.  The United States fears that elections in Iraq could bring to power spiritual brothers of Iranian ayatollahs."


DENMARK:  "Civil War Threatens Iraq"


Centrist Kristeligt Dagblad noted (8/15):  "The future for Iraq looks bleak and there is reason to believe that the situation could develop into a civil war.  The U.S. and Coalition countries are doing everything in their power to prevent this happening as a civil war in Iraq could impact the entire Middle East."


ROMANIA:  "The Iraqi Constitution In The 12th Hour"


Lieselotte Millitz-Stoica judged in pro-Democratic Convention and Civic Alliance Romania Libera (8/16):  "Reaching an agreement over the provisions of the future fundamental law is not at all exclusively of regional interest, given that tens of states are closely watching both the Iraqi security environment and the reconstruction of the country....  The Iraqi politicians might agree on a first constitutional project that will be, of course, imperfect and incomplete....  The interim government runs the risk of seeing the referendum scheduled for October"


SPAIN:  "Iraq: The Situation Is Deteriorating, The U.S. Lacks Alternatives"


Independent El Mundo questioned (8/4):  "What is happening in Iraq?  The question is obvious, but the answer is not.  The fact is that the wide central strip of the country, where a big part of the Sunni population lives, is under a situation of extraordinary violence, with inflamed confrontations between the insurgent guerrilla force on one side, and U.S. forces and the Iraqi police on the other....  The resistance lacks a leader or a concrete strategy, but it is united by a hatred of the U.S. and the new government, which it considers a puppet of the allied forces.  This armed resistance is a minority, but the big tragedy is that the leaders of Saddam's dictatorship, the businessmen, the learned professionals, and the intellectuals, share the same hatred of the U.S. and thus wash their hands of what is happening....  The problem is that the presence of the [U.S.] troops impede the normalization of the country and the existence of some of the institutions that are accepted by the population....  The U.S. succeeded in defeating the dictator that governed Baghdad, but has failed in rebuilding the country, maybe because it lacked a plan when it got into the foolish adventure of the invasion."


"Bloody Chaos"


Left-of-center El País asserted (8/4):  "It’s a fact that, neither militarily nor politically, is there a possibility for peace in Iraq, despite the renewed claims of President Bush.  Washington’s advanced theories about the different phases of the conflict are getting dissolved in an ever bloodier reality, which, if there is no fundamental commitment among the different factions, points towards an open civil war....  This recipe will be a disaster if the Sunnis, who are opposed to a federal structure that would corner them economically in their zone of influence, are not incorporated on equal terms into an unified Iraq....  The same calendar [towards a constitution] a worthless peace of paper if the current grade of violence and political divergences persist.  The first draft of a few days ago drew up a medieval state that was nearly theocratic, absolutely distant from the American promises of democracy.  Still today, when its writers announce progress, the process continues without agreement on matters as crucial as the role of religion in the State, or of women’s rights....  There are still in the constitutional project elements as inadmissible as the submission of women to religious authority."


TURKEY:  "Iraq And Religious Fundamentalism"


Erdal Safak commented in mass-appeal Sabah (8/16):  "It seems that Bush and Blair’s pledge about freedom and equality for Iraq will remain as rhetoric, particularly for the country’s women.  The 50-year history of a secular Iraq is about to be replaced by a religious fundamentalist structure.  Northern Iraq is the only region that can save itself from this fate....  Unless the U.S. intervenes at the very last minute, the Iraqi constitution draft denies the rights of women and treats them as second class citizens....  In fact fundamentalist practices against women have already started in both Shiite and Sunni areas even before the constitution is approved....  It is worth asking the question:  do we prefer northern Iraq to be an integral part of a fundamentalist state, or do we prefer an autonomous but secular northern Iraq?"


"August 15 For Iraq"


Cengiz Candar observed in conservative-sensational Dunden Bugune Tercuman (8/16):  "History tells us that efforts launched with good intentions do not necessarily bring positive results in the end.  Those who have the power of facilitating a historical process do not always have the capability to control the results....  When Americans toppled the cruel regime of Saddam Hussein and started the process of democratization in Iraq, none of them could foresee the point that has been reached today.  As a result of the ongoing democratic process initiated by the U.S., Iraq is turning into another version of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  A Shiiteland has emerged in the south, a Kurdistan in the north, and Iraq’s Sunni-controlled central region has turned into a source of violence and terror.  This was not the idea the U.S. had in mind when it started this process.  But it is the reality in Iraq, at least for the foreseeable future."


"Pandora’s Box Has Been Opened"


Hakan Deniz noted in economic-political Referans (8/16):  "The operation in Iraq has opened Pandora’s box and ruined the balances that had held for 70 years.  The Kurds and Shiites are seeking a federation in the short run, and aiming independence in the longer term.  These two ethnic groups are demanding a share of revenues from oil resources located in their territory.  The Sunnis are disappointed by what they view as a betrayal by western countries.  One would have to be very optimistic to expect that the sides will be able to reach a workable agreement.  On the contrary, there are strong signs that there will be a period of clashes between Iraqi groups.  This is of direct concern for Turkey.  While making its economic and political plans, Ankara should consider that a new era, and one that could be very bloody, has started in the Middle East.  Who is going to benefit from all this chaos?  Putting aside the insurgency and the military casualties, the U.S. operation in Iraq has been very successful.  The U.S. is no longer facing a regime that withholds its oil from the U.S. market.  Instead, it faces three Muslim ethnic groups fighting with each other over control of the country’s natural resources."


"There Is No Alternative To Turkey"


Kamuran Ozbir recognized in nationalist Ortadogu (8/15):  "Turkey’s rejection of the passage of U.S. troops across its territory in 2003 had a damaging effect on Turkey-U.S. relations.  The U.S. needs Turkey as much as Turkey needs the U.S.  There have been some recent efforts on both sides to improve the relationship.  Meanwhile the U.S. has found itself a new ally--the Kurds.  There was no such alliance before, but the huge assistance the U.S. received from the Kurds in Iraq paved the way for this new alliance....  But the U.S.-Kurdish partnership in northern Iraq is negatively affected by the continuation of a weak economy in the Kurdish area.  It seems certain that Washington, taking these factors into account, will focus more on Turkey to improve bilateral relations....  Turkey is an indispensable part of NATO, with its unique geographical location."


"The Reality About The New Iraq"


Sami Kohen insisted in mass appeal centrist Milliyet (8/10):  "While the constitutional process is underway in Iraq, all indicators suggest that Iraq is eventually going to be both federal and Islamic.  Iraq is currently undergoing a complex and bloody transition period.  Once that is over, there will be more clear clues to the permanent political order in Iraq.… The new constitution apparently does not foresee a ‘united’ and ‘secular’ state system for the future of Iraq.  It seems that to reach a consensus among the contentious groups, a federal and religiously fundamentalist plan will have to be adopted.… Turkey should take into account the new trends and emerging realities as part of Iraq’s rebuilding process.  In principle, Ankara does not object to Iraq having a federal system.  Keeping Iraq’s territorial integrity intact--more specifically, keeping the de-facto Kurdistan in northern Iraq as part of a unified Iraq--is the most important point for Turkey.  Therefore, a federation that embraces all Iraqi groups should receive Turkey’s support as well.… Turkey should facilitate a close dialogue with Iraqi officials and leading groups to support the country’s territorial integrity and reduce conflict between the communities.  The new realities in Iraq require Turkey to assume an active role in the rebuilding of the country."


"The PKK Flag In Kirkuk"


Cuneyt Ulsever argued in mass appeal Hurriyet (8/3):  "Turkey is rightfully very concerned about the PKK issue in Iraq, but this has not become a central issue for Washington....  The PKK is a terrorist organization, and any issue related to the PKK should be brought to the attention of the Iraqi government.…  The U.S., on the other hand, is primarily interested in creating a smooth process in Iraq, particularly the completion of work on the constitution by August 15, and the holding of a general election in December.  In this process, the Kurds in northern Iraq are considered the closest allies of the U.S.  Therefore, the last thing the U.S. wants to do is to turn the Kurds against it while it is trying to deal with the Sunnis and Shiites....  Is the U.S. really helpless in trying to control the situation in Iraq?"




ISRAEL:  "The Constitution Is Far Removed From Reality"


Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/16):  "The [Iraqi] draft constitution offers the Kurdish minority some...concessions that are not all agreed upon.  Despite the demand by the Shi'ite religious leadership that Islamic law be 'the basic source' of legislation, the draft stipulates that Islamic law will only be 'a basic source.'  The omission of the article 'the' from the text signifies a significant and far-reaching concession, not only to the Shi'ites' secular faction, and of the Kurds who were opposed to a religious formulation altogether--it will also strengthen the status of women.  On the other hand, the constitution draft is still rather unclear regarding the powers of the central government....  Participation of the Sunnis in decision-making [which the constitution drafters are opposed to] could assist in the continuation of negotiations against terrorist organizations and, more importantly, would give the Sunnis a power of veto regarding the ad

option of the constitution through a referendum.  Meanwhile, it appears that the political process being conducted in Iraq around the constitution is taking place in a bubble that is detached from reality--in a country where dozens of people get killed every day."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Hope Is Still There!"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina editorialized (8/15):  "Although many obstacles block progress on the constitution, especially issues raised lately about federalism in the south, there is still hope.  Iraqis will make their decision through the coming referendum and elections to formulate a future similar to their civilized history.  A free united nation for the Iraq's various ethnic, sectarian communities and political parties under one umbrella will then be established."


"The Unity of Iraqis at Risk"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira faulted (8/14):  "The U.S. Department of Defense last Friday banned the publishing of more photos from Abu-Gharib prison for fear that this might increase the number of insurgents.  In other words, the American authorities are afraid that the release of more photos might provoke Iraqis to join the rebels... The Iraqis must unite and build a political consensus to save their country.  The Iraqis must understand that overcoming the current difficulties will not be accomplished by the hand of the occupying forces. At the end of the day the American troops work only for American interests."


"Iraqi Constitution"


Mecca's conservative Al-Nadwah editorialized (8/14):  "Despite the many issues set forth for discussion there is doubt that the Iraqi draft constitution will be presented to the National Assembly on time. Three major issues have been agreed upon.  They are the name, the Kurdish militants and oil revenues.  Approving this constitution means that Iraq will be able to construct a nation-state that recognizes the rights of all citizens who will be able to contribute to rebuilding their country as a strong member of the regional and international community." 


IRAQ:  "London Talks And Iraqi Constitution Cuisine"


Mazen Saheb spotlit in independent, recently anti-coalition Az-Zaman (8/9):  "When the Iraqi opposition held meetings in London the current United States Ambassador to Iraq was in attendance.   During that event there were two types of meetings, one that went on inside the hall, and the other for the leaders who would one day decide the fate of the constitution.  There were two Kurdish parties, INC, Al-Wigaq (Iraq National  Accord), The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution (SCRI), and Ashrif Ali Ben Al-Ussain.  All of those organizations and leaders have met again and this time they are attempting to work out the remaining kinks in the constitution.  The question is, are there any new players looking out for the needs of the Iraqi people?  Is there a new cook in the kitchen?  If there is, then Iraqis didn't need to vote in the last election and there is no need for the TNA....  I think that the current meeting on the constitution will follow the framework of the TAL, which is another way of saying that they will be an Iraqi translation of American law....  During my chat with Dr. Allawi, I noticed that he continued to stress that democratic changes have occurred in Iraq.  He wants to include those changes in the constitution.  He  also wants to find a way to maintain the democratic institutions that have been created, and continue to educate the Iraqi people about politics.  He believes that religion should not be an issue in the constitution, even though an Islamic identity is a reality for most Iraqis.  Recently Khalilzad, Al-Barzani, and Allawi came to an agreement amongst themselves on the democratic principles in the constitution.  Such a meeting of these three figures may make the 'political leaders' meetings' a fruitless endeavor.  While at the same time, Al-Sistani's list, the Iraqi United Alliance, prefers a religious authority included in the constitution, similar to the Iranian model....  He considers Islam as the basic source for legislation, while agreeing with federalism as a general  principle.  Therefore, one must measure the differences between the 'Iraqi Opposition's meetings' in London and the reality of drafting the constitution to understand what's cooking in Iraq."


"Fine With Fog Draft Constitution"


Dr. Lateef Al Wakeel critically advised in Iraqi National Congress affiliated Al Mutamar (8/9):  "There are many essential issues that the constitution should clearly address including:  what will our democracy look like, how will the government protect the dignity of all Iraqis, and how it will protect its citizens from physical harm.  So far the constitution does address these issues.  However, it also includes unclear phrases and flexible expressions.  Actually, we disagree over the meaning of the holy Koran, so how can we hope to understand the Federal Islamic Country?  Iraq is an united Islamic country, but it is not a democracy....  Let us arm the constitution with the tools that it needs to make Iraq a better place.  I believe that the constitution must be committed to protecting the human dignity of the Iraqi people.  It should prohibit physical violations against Iraqis and moral violations against their beliefs.  It should guarantee equal rights for women.  It should  protect the aged.  It should provide for the young....  Other countries, like Germany, have similar laws and went  through similar situations....  The Iraqi people are special.  We need to show this to the world through the constitutional process.  The constitution needs to help create a land of peace and justice, not war and violence.  In this way, Iraq can be a sacred Islamic country.  We don't need to use our religion as cover for hunger, ignorance and poverty.  It is not important for the constitution to refer to individual sects.  But it must protect the rights, and freedoms of these sects for all Iraqis."  


"What Is Going On In Samawah And Why?"


Iraqi Media Network, pro-coalition As-Sabah expressed concern (8/9):  "We all talk about the peaceful Samawah, the first province that will be completely under Iraqi control when the MNF-I leave.  It will be run by an elected administration with total legitimacy because the people of Samawah make all of the decisions....  Samawah...isn't a reconstruction success story....  The sufferings of the people in An-Nassiryia increased after the fall of Saddam....  While the Americans were involved in the war on terrorism they forgot about reconstruction and forgot that building is the only way to motivate the confused  provinces....Why not try to reelect a new council with a different  mandate?  Why not have one that understands that they have no money and can't provide services to their people?  At  least the people would trust them.   What about the members of the Islamic movements that have been selected to run the southern provinces?  They are failing.  This is obvious  because the people are continuously frustrated with them.  Our concern is that people are fighting against their leaders and their leaders are neglecting them, and this might extend to other provinces.  Don't we understand the message of the incident in Samawah?  Don't we know what the violent disorder in the most secured provinces is trying to tell us?  Its message is clear:  The departure of the MNF-I won't fix anything because we do not  know how to run our own affairs.  We still need help.  We  have no way other than guided by a fatherly power."    


"Our Privacy And Our Generality"


Dr. Ali  Khulaif assailed in SCIR-affiliated Ad-Adala (8/8):  "The constitution has to be a large and inclusive document.  It must be large because it has a lot to accomplish and it must be inclusive because it must cover the needs of all Iraqis.  These are the facts and Iraqi society must accept  them.  It is not necessary for all sides to achieve all of their demands.  However, it is not right to disallow their demands either.  All sides must accept that they will have  to compromise while writing the constitution.  As a result, when a certain group asks to have a special demand, they must ensure that their demand does not limit the rights of others.  We must all commit to this process because we are one people, living in one country....  We are in a critical stage of our development as a nation, and we need to support each other.  We need to build an Iraq that has no place for injustice.  Everyone needs to  remember the ones who suffered from injustice under Saddam's regime, and not inflict it upon others.  Iraq needs the same people who fought dictatorship to work hand in hand to draft a constitution in the spirit of compromise."


"The Heads of Political Masses and the Historic Task"  


Pro-Coalition, PUK-affiliated, Al-Ittihad sought (8/7):  "Local, regional and international attention is focused on the meeting of the political leaders of the TNA. This  meeting is expected to resolve the issues and disputes that the constitutional Drafting Committee is currently facing.  It is critical to the process and may well decide the fate of the constitution.  Many people are accusing the Kurds of increasing their demands, restricting the political process as a result.  However, there was a commitment in the TAL on a variety of  these issues, and if the commitments were simply upheld, many points of dispute could be passed, and the constitution could be finished without difficulties....  It is wrong to believe that the Kurds are blocking progress on  the constitution.  They just want the promises that were made to them fulfilled.  Kurds are forcing the various  power brokers in Iraq to be honest with themselves, holding accountable those who would seem to be willing to abuse the rights of others, as it was in the past.  This meeting will be contentious and challenging, but will be a seminal point in Iraqi history, charting the future course of Iraq."  


"Provide Security And Services"


Al-Wifaq Party's pro-coalition Baghdad remarked (8/3):  "Robert McNamara once said, 'that the basis of any country's security is its level of development....'  A country won't have security or stability without some level of development....  Iraqis need the benefits of these services, like reliable power, clean water, and good jobs.  It is the government's responsibility to provide these services.  It is the citizen's responsibility to take advantage of them and use them to make a better life. The people are learning how to think for themselves instead of just following the commands of a cruel dictator.  The average Iraqi will need time to adjust  to this new situation.... The Iraqi citizen has simple needs and would be satisfied with any improvement in his living conditions....  His number one priority is security, without which there is no life....  Security also means having the ability to support oneself and one's family.  By dissolving the former regime's institutions, former CPA governor Paul Bremer deprived a countless number Iraqis with a means to support themselves, deprived them of their security.  Did he not think about how these people would live and support themselves?  If this happened in the U.S., what would be the reaction of the various human rights organizations?...  They have failed to provide essential services that were considered 'human rights' before the CPA and the ITG.  The Iraqi citizen does not deserve to be ignored by the government.  If we really want a stable and secure Iraq, then we need to calm down the situation.  We need the government to focus on meeting this one achievement for all of Iraq.  They need to provide these services to all Iraqis, regardless of their beliefs, their sect, their religion or their background."


"Delaying The Constitution Will Delay Iraq's Future" 


Rasim Qasim observed in Al-Dawa party affiliated Al Dawa (8/2):  "There are some basic issues that the constitutional drafting committee is still discussing.  These issues are federalism, the role of religion in the government, and Kirkuk.  Resolving these issues may take longer than the time allotted to the committee to finish the constitution.  However, if the constitution is not finished on time, it  will cause delays in the progress of Iraq.  The Iraqi people are looking forward to the future because their present situation is not very good.  They want to live in a stable society and they want their rights to be protected.  The representative body of the Iraqi people, which is the "Transitional National Authority," should take charge and help the committee finish the draft on time.  Logic and reason will win in the end, and these issues will be resolved eventually.  Once the constitution is finished it does not really matter how long it takes to solve our other problems.  We will have a document in hand that guarantees  our rights.  As such, all political sides should cooperate to unify and heal Iraq.  By finishing the constitution on time, we will earn the respect of the world.  We will also prove to ourselves that we are able to take responsibility for our actions and our future.  We must accomplish this or we will lose everything."


JORDAN:  "Federalism Is The Antithesis Of Separation"


Columnist Mohammad Abu Rumman claimed in independent Arabic daily Al-Ghad (8/15):  "Even if we assume that the Iraqi Parliament was able to agree on the constitution in time for the August 15 deadline, it would not mean that dangerous and serious scenarios have been averted.  This is for two reasons.  The first is that the Sunnis are still outside the context of the political process that threatens to render the entire process a failure, and the second is that the draft constitution is based on favoring sectarianism over general interests.  The probable scenario is that the draft constitution would be approved on time with some pending issues remaining, and the most significant of the pending issues is how willing are the Iraqis to live together and to have national unity, and, judging from the current indications, this is not going to be supported.  We do not expect the Iraqis to be freed from the ghosts of the past that instill a tendency for separatism and negativity.  What needs to be done, therefore, is to postpone the passing of the constitution until that time when there is consensus on a wider scale and that is by bringing the Sunnis into the political process and stressing the concept of co-existence.  This is the real guarantee and infrastructure that is necessary for any constitution or political arena in the new Iraq."


QATAR:  "Kurds Gain Ground But Shias Want Autonomy"


Semi-official English language Gulf Times wrote (8/13):  "Iraq’s political leaders were battling on late into the night yesterday in their efforts to agree on a constitution ahead of Monday’s deadline.  Indications from their meetings suggested that the Kurds, who have been Washington’s strongest allies in Iraq, were gaining ground in the negotiations.  The official name for Iraq was reportedly agreed on as the Federal Republic of Iraq, recognising the Kurdish commitment to a federal structure while avoiding any reference to Islam, which would have been favoured by the Shia politicians.  The future status of Kirkuk, which the Kurds want as their capital, will be decided in December after “normalisation” of the city, which apparently means reversing Saddam’s policy of settling Arabs in the northern oil capital and driving out Kurds.  And the Kurds’ private army, the Peshmerga, who remain the country’s only effective indigenous military force, will not be absorbed into a national Iraqi army, it will instead operate as a security force within the northern, Kurdish, area.  Clearly, Kurdish hopes of using federalism as a stepping-stone towards independence are still in place–-particularly as “normalisation” of Kirkuk is likely to give them a majority in the city before its residents decide what they want its future to be. So it should not have been a surprise when the Shia leadership threw as spanner in the works by declaring that it wanted a strongly federal southern block.  The Shia, like the Kurds–but unlike the Sunnis–have abundant energy resources in the area where they are the overwhelming majority and hope to benefit from it. A Shia federation in the south, where the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) is the dominant political force, might also apply Islamic law in its area.  Sunnis who are the majority in the centre and west of Iraq, are afraid both that federalism could lead to fragmentation, leaving them with an area which has few natural resources, and that the politicians in the south are following an Iranian agenda, designed to strengthen Tehran’s influence in the region.  As the top SCIRI leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, has called for Shia autonomy after meeting the religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and radical firebrand Moqtada al-Sadr, it seems that the Iraqi Shia’s most influential leaders are agreed on adopting the Kurdish model in the south.  However, the Sunni negotiators are unlikely to agree to that being incorporated in the draft constitution and, if it is, Sunni-majority provinces will almost certainly veto the document at the October referendum.  With two days to go before the deadline for completing the draft, there are still huge differences between the various sides and anything that is presented to the parliament looks certain to be more of a work in progress than a well thought-out blueprint for a successful and stable Iraq.  


"A Surprise"


Semi-official Al-Watan mentioned (8/13):  "The call by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the Iraqi Shia leader, for a Shia region in Iraq has not only surprised Iraq's different political groups but also all those sincere non-Iraqis, who have been calling for Iraq's unity since the first day of the American invasion."


"Iraqi Government Failure"


In Baghdad, Ziyad Al-Samarra’i asserted in an interview by independent, Qatar-owned Al-Jazeera (8/9):  "The Iraqi [people] see the security [operations] carried out by the Iraqi a failure.  [These operations] have not decreased the [number] of [insurgent] attacks.  On the contrary, they have increased, and this is what has [affected] the state of mind of Iraqi citizens, in addition to all [the other difficulties] that they are experiencing....  [Iraqis] view the issues of the constitution...the elections or decisions to be made by the government as being far from their daily concerns.  [They feel that these issues] do not address their daily suffering, which is increasing day by day, and their situation and services are worsening.  [Iraqis] are complaining...and it is their right to do so.  They want security first and then services, as well as other things that the government must provide to every citizen."


"U.S.-Iraq Relations"


Dr. Nur Al-Tamimi stated in an interview in Baghdad by independent, Qatar-owned Al-Jazeera (8/9):  "The Americans are busy building large bases in Iraq....  All indications show that they will remain in Iraq to ensure long-term U.S. vital interests not only in Iraq, but in the neighboring Arab [countries] and in the areas of the Caspian Sea....  The political process does not need F-16s, cluster bombs and other banned weapons.  This is another indication that the U.S. administration is floundering and that [its] propaganda plan has failed.  [This is also an indication] of the failure of its military plan in Iraq....  The Americans still do not understand the mentality of Iraqis, which rejects any foreign presence [in] Iraq.  The Americans are now [viewed] as occupiers, and Iraqis reject the idea of occupation.  Therefore, the Americans must deal with this fact and not with [plans] drawn by the Pentagon [conceived] of illusions." 


SYRIA:  "U.S. Copy Of Iraqi Constitution"


Ali Nasrallah, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra, commented (8/16):  "The Washington Post reported that the U.S. administration presented to Iraq a written draft constitution....  The Iraqi people need to take a decisive position toward this American interference, especially since their nationalist forces and political currents had rejected any foreign interference in their options and constitutional affairs....  Washington is interfering in every Iraqi affair, big or small.  It is interfering in Iraq's relations with its neighboring countries, which are subjected from time to time to misleading campaigns through statements from Americans and some Iraqi government officials....  Some Iraqi officials direct accusations at Syria without being able to offer any evidence.  This shows that some Iraqi officials are robbed of their wills and controlled by the Americans....  The Iraqi people must be alert to the schemes that target their country, their national unity, and their Arab affiliation." 


"Syria's Will:  Security And Stability In Iraq"


Izz-Eddin Darwish concluded in government-owned Tishreen (8/15):  "Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari stated that Syria has no political willpower to control its borders with Iraq.  Other Iraqi officials repeated the same statement.  The main thing is that they are echoing what American officials are saying.  These accusations are baseless.  Syria is controlling its border with Iraq and taking all the measures in this respect as it has a joint interest with Iraq to have secure borders....  The issue is not one of infiltration but has to do with the plan to bring pressure to bear on Syria.  Syria supports Iraq and the Iraqis under all circumstances.  We want Iraq to enjoy genuine security and stability and get rid of the occupation, and enhance its national unity and sovereignty.  This is Syria's stand and this is its political willpower toward Iraq."


"A Scarecrow And Fooling Americans"


Adham al-Tawil had this to say in government-owned Tishreen (8/15):  "The U.S. administration endeavors to convince its nationals that it is waging wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a war on terrorism to protect them using every excuse to justify its wars....  The question that one should pose is until when will the Americans go along with this policy of stultification taking into consideration that they have not forgotten yet that the Saddam Hussein and his nuclear weapons were just the scarecrow that made most of them support the war President Bush and his aides launched for their private interests."


"Democracy The American Way, Canned Product Exported During Wars And Occupation"


Dr. Sabah Azzam, a columnist in government-owned Tishreen, commented (8/8):  "The U.S. attempts to spread democracy and respect of human rights in the region. This is a method to which the U.S. resorts, including military force, to spread this democracy....  It becomes clear that the United States wants to impose its own concept of freedom and democracy on the countries and people with the force of arms and through wars and occupation.  Naturally, it faced and continues to face failure and more setbacks in this respect.  All this dictates for Arabs is to be more alert and serious to confront the schemes to impose hegemony on their resources and the attempts to confiscate their decision-making and turn them into people who are subservient to U.S. policies." 


"Iraq At The UN Security Council Anew"


Ali Nasrallah, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, said (7/29):  "The United States is talking much about the political process in Iraq these days because it is hoping to minimize its growing human losses, but without weakening its position and presence in Iraq, and because it wants to suggest to the Iraqi people and the world that it is interested in Iraq's democracy and political future....  Donald Rumsfeld's surprise visit to Baghdad cannot be seen in a political context.  The visit came at a time when there are conflicting American assessments of the situation in Iraq and followed the leak of a British secret document on a possible substantial reduction of American and British troops in Iraq....  Washington refuses to set a timetable for the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq, but at the same time it stresses the need to speed up the training of Iraqi forces so that they will replace the American troops inside cities....  This reflects a state of loss in the U.S. position....  Rumsfeld's statements about his country's intention to set a new legal basis for the role of the foreign troops in Iraq reflect an attempt to neutralize these troops and keep them as an occupation force....  To set this new legal basis, a new UN Security Council resolution might be passed to legitimize and perpetuate the occupation, and, consequently, maintain the state of tension and instability, not only in Iraq but also in the entire region." 


UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:  "The Iraqi Failure"


The [Iraqi] artist Ahmed Shargi, a resident of the Netherlands, told Dubai-based, Arabic-language (8/9):  "'The Iraqi government…has failed politically....  It is true that this government succeeded outside Iraq in gaining international [approval], but [this approval] is [supported] by the U.S. government, with the U.S. putting pressure on [the other] governments [of the world]....  Why did the Iraqi government fail internally?  Because [the reins of power] are not in the hands of the U.S. government but in the hands of other parties [that are acting] outside the U.S. strategy....'"




CHINA (HONG KONG, SAR):  "Iraqi Constitution Must Be A Model For The Mideast"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post stated (8/1):  "Democracy is a relatively new concept to Arab and Muslim societies, long used to rule by monarchs and autocratic leaders.  Under such circumstances, the basic rights of people, especially women, have been ignored.  This is especially true of most of Iraq's neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia and Syria, whose leaders refuse to relinquish control and allow democratic rule.  Kuwait gave women the right to vote only this year and Iran's fundamentalist religious rulers continue to deny their people the freedoms of political choice and expression.  Iraq's draft constitution, which must be put to a referendum at the end of the year, is therefore an opportunity for the country to show the rest of the region what democracy can provide.  For the sake of harmony and building a properly democratic society, lawmakers must overcome differences by allowing proper representation of all sectors of society in future governments.  The rights given to one community must be extended to all others.  Women must be treated as equal to men.  This way, Iraq will be a model for others to follow and its people will gain the rights they have been denied for so long."




INDIA:  "Iraq Moving Towards Democracy"


Columnist Hemantkumar Shah opined in Mumbai-based centrist Gujarati daily Gujaratmitra (8/5):  "It seems Iraq is gradually moving towards democracy.  Iraq’s new constitution is expected to come into effect shortly.  This will mark a new beginning for Iraq and its people.  Despite intermittent terrorist attacks and bombings that have ruined Iraq, the Iraqis are involved in the herculean task of stabilizing the situation and establishing democracy on their soil.  It is important to note that the U.S. plan to impose democracy on Iraq, by dislodging former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, will not serve any purpose unless the people of Iraq realize the importance of a democratic set-up.  The establishment of such a democratic system of governance has to come from the people of Iraq and not from a foreign power.  This seems to be a distant reality, as the U.S.-led coalition forces have still not withdrawn their forces from this strife-torn region....  Iraq’s journey to democracy doesn’t seem to be a smooth one.  It will have to overcome many hindrances before realizing its dream.  If Iraq is successful in establishing democracy, it will set a precedent for other Arab nations to imitate its example.  Its failure to establish democracy will only provide the opportunity to the dictators to strengthen their control in Arab nations." 


PAKISTAN:  "Conspiracy To Divide Iraq?"


The Karachi-based, pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu-language Islam maintained (8/16):  "After the failure of military occupation of Iraq, the global powers have now started playing a dangerous game there, the results of which they have not contemplated.  Iraq is seemed to be divided into three units of Shiite, Sunni and Kurd population.  This will not help reduce resistance as everybody is aware that right now the biggest resistance forces comprises of Sunnis.  If the U.S. wanted to prevent more bloodshed and military losses in Iraq then it should announce an end to its military and political intervention there and let the people of Iraq decide about their own future." 


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