International Information Programs
August 30, 2005

August 30, 2005





**  Media fault Washington's "indecent haste" to complete the constitution.

**  Sunni disaffection threatens consensus on self-rule.

**  Global outlets debate:  "federalism, or a foundation for partition?" 

**  Iraqi papers generally line up along predictable political lines.




'High Speed'--  Writers argued Bush's "hastiness" to bring a "success story" to a U.S. audience has "dramatically escalated" a situation where "wisdom" and "willingness to compromise" were required.  The conservative Australian concurred with global media that agreement on the constitution "under the pressure of time" means a "postponement of the problem." 


Sunnis 'unwilling to submit' to majority rule--  Editorialists worried that ignoring Sunni "needs and interests" in the draft constitution will prove a "dangerous move" because the Sunnis, posited one Malaysian writer, have been "hoisted into a position to make or break any deal."  Brazil's liberal Folha de S. Paulo added that any agreement excluding the Sunnis means the "perpetuation or even the intensification" of "civil war."  A pro-constitution Iraqi writer described Sunnis as suffering from "a ruler's logic and not that of one who has been ruled." 


'Afraid of federalism'--  Media differed in their assessments of the divisive "battle" over federalism.  Canada's centrist Globe and Mail blamed Shia and Kurdish leaders for putting "their own religious and secular interests" ahead of the "country's needs," while one Russian editorialist criticized "wily" Sunni politicians who "deliberately exaggerate" problems despite the "concessions" made to them.  According to most Arab writers, federalism is a "step backward" that will have a "dangerous and destructive" result.  One Syrian paper alleged the U.S. agenda is to "divide and rule," predicting the call to establish federal regions will "dwarf” Iraq and open the door for a “new Sykes-Picot."  Federalism may be the "best possible solution," countered Lebanon's independent Al-Balad, adding that Iraq was united only "under a dictatorship." 


Support for 'free and fair' referendum--  Anti-coalition writers in Iraq saw the constitution as a "plan to divide Iraq."  One editorialist termed the National Assembly a "theater of the absurd," calling on Iraqis to reject a draft prepared in the White House "kitchen."  SCIRI (Supreme Council of Islamic Resistance in Iraq) affiliated editorialists denounced anti-federalism groups for "trying to impose" agendas not in the "Iraqi national interest," and questioned their intent in seeking to remove the article banning the Ba'ath party.  KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) writers claimed that central governments in Iraq are "ripe for dictatorships," and blamed Iraqi media for failing to educate the public about federalism.  Those who oppose it, argued Al-Ta'akhi, are either "ignorant" or have a "nationalistic, or religious desire to control others."  Independent papers, for or against the draft, lauded the "democratic process," saying that disagreement between the three groups is a "healthy point" in constitution building.  Ad-Dustoor declared, "This is how Iraqis should discuss and decide their future--through democracy and freedom."

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


EDITOR:  Erin Carroll


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 153 reports from 30 countries over 19 August - 30 August, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Stay Flexible On Iraq's Draft Constitution.  Further Amendments May Be Needed Before Referendum"


The independent Financial Times (8/30) editorialized:  "The reality is that for all its might the U.S. has limited leverage over internal Iraqi politics.  It should take a step back and stop trying to micro-manage a process it cannot control.  Identifying U.S. interests and U.S. success exclusively with a Yes vote on October 15 would be a mistake:  it is not obvious that the U.S. is better off with a Yes that isolates the Sunnis than a No that brings them into the political process."


"Spinning To The Future"


The left-of-center Guardian declared (8/30):  "Not surprisingly, given the mounting domestic unpopularity of the Iraqi adventure, there has been heavy spin in Washington (and London) as well as Baghdad.  George Bush's comparison of the Iraqi constitutional exercise with the Philadelphia convention of 1787 is as fatuous as it is irrelevant.  But others are out of touch with a brutally changed reality too.  Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, lamenting a constitution that threatens chaos, seemed to hark back to the halcyon days of a Middle East of stable dictatorships."


"Beacon Of Hope Fades"


The left-of-center Guardian (8/24) editorialized:  "A month before the invasion of March 2003, Bush said a free Iraq could become 'a beacon of democracy across the Middle East.'  It is highly unlikely that Bush or anyone else in Washington, not even in the right-wing think tanks, will be claiming Iraq as a 'beacon of democracy.'  They will not be making the boast at all if, as is likely, the U.S. pulls out against a backdrop of insurgency, lawlessness, power cuts, erratic oil production, water shortages, the threat of breakup and the increased influence of Iran."


"The American Obsession With A Quick Constitution Is A Recipe For Disaster In Iraq"


Patrick Cockburn wrote in the center-left Independent (8/24):  "The determination of American diplomats in Baghdad over the past few days to force a draft constitution through the Iraqi national assembly at high speed is not aimed at producing a political success to coincide with the birthday of President George Bush.  But it has everything to do with the desperate need of the White House, as popular support for the war in Iraq ebbs by the day across the U.S., to show that it is making progress.  It is not Iraqi but American political priorities which are paramount.  This is turning out to be a recipe for disaster."


"Freedom And Unity--Constitution Must Find Ways To Link These Virtues"


The conservative Times editorialized (8/24):  "The effort of drafting a constitution capable of commanding broad assent and respect is taxing Iraqi society to the limit.  Millions of Iraqis, bred to fear and blind obedience, will barely, until now, have given thought to what a democratically ordered Iraq may be like.  The vehemence of the arguments, on street corners and in committee rooms, will have come to many of them as a shock.  Even for the drafters, some of whom have spent years hoping and planning for the opportunity to build a democratic state, the process has been an education, revealing just how complicated is the mosaic of regional and local, ethnic and tribal, religious and secular, loyalties and beliefs that Saddam Hussein's ruthlessly centralized dictatorship had repressed."


"Iraq's Constitution Must Build Consensus, Not Deepen Rifts"


The independent Financial Times stated (8/24):  "Meeting deadlines in Iraq is important, not least for a U.S. administration desperate to show symbolic progress and shore up waning domestic support for its policies.  But in the face of a resilient insurgency and growing sectarian attacks, the overriding consideration today must be to ease sectarian divisions and stop Iraq's dangerous slide into civil war."


FRANCE:  "Failures"


Gerard Dupuy wrote in left-of-center Liberation (8/29):  “Without the allied armies, namely the American Army, never would the Iraqis have been so close to having a Constitution so well tailored to their multiple needs.  A little Islam, a little human rights....  This intricate distribution is also the only chance for the text to be adopted by the Iraqis.  The Sunnis, who have violently rejected the U.S. presence...could lead the project to fail....  A project which is also the only trump card Bush has in his hand to bring back his troops....  With ‘the boys’ in mind, Bush pushed hard for the Constitution.  But if it fails, President Bush will get the opposite of what he wanted.  While trying to gain time, he could end up having lost time.  Because there is no doubt that the count down has begun in the minds of those surrounding the President....  His public opinion is against him, and the rumors of troop disengagement are a result of the President’s mounting unpopularity.  As the game play becomes more difficult, it seems the president has less and less time.  On the opposite side, the pro-Saddam insurgents possess a deadly weapon: to prolong the situation.”


"For The Iraqis, A Constitution, But Problems Remain"


Pierre Prier noted in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/29):  “If one is to believe Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Iraq has been saved from the risks of a civil war....  But if one look closely at the constitutional text, nothing seems to have been permanently resolved....  The main concern of the government and the various factions seems to have been to gain time and give in to pressures from Washington, which is eager to see a positive outcome and begin military disengagement proceedings....  But in reality, the same problems appear unresolved....  In Baghdad, the U.S. Ambassador showed less enthusiasm than President Bush, acknowledging that a rejection by the Sunnis on October 15 would create ‘a problem.’”


"Iraq On The Brink of Breaking"


Gilles Delafon opined in right-of-center Le Journal du Dimanche (8/29):  “It is Washington's whole strategy of reconciliation which is at stake and could fail....  President Bush's worries are such that he even called the Shiite leader el-Hakim asking for more flexibility....  The democratic solution that will be coming out of the ballots does not appear to be a guarantee for pacifying Iraq.  And the new victim of Iraq's paradoxes is President Bush himself: not only has he had to court el-Hakim, Iraq's pro-Iran figure, to allow more room to former pro-Saddam proponents, he is also being threatened by American Evangelists who say they will withdraw their support if the Iraqis adopt a Constitution which gives too much importance to Islam.”


"Bush's Disturbing Optimism"


Jacques Amalric observed in left-of-center Liberation (8/25):  “Experience has taught us that President Bush's remarks are an excellent barometer for measuring the evolution of the situation in Iraq--the more he is optimistic, the worse the situation.… This is why we should be concerned about his optimistic declarations on Tuesday.… Reality of course is different: the text of the Constitution is said to be giving the lion's share to Islam as the ‘principal source’ in Iraq's legislation.… The fact that the Sunni community has not been integrated in the constitutional project is a major political failure for the U.S. and a marked success for the ‘pro-Saddamists’ and their Islamic allies.… The U.S. refused to allow enough time for the project because of its eagerness to accelerate Iraq's political process.… If the Constitution is rejected next October, this could intensify the rampant civil war and push the Kurds and the Shiites to proclaim their autonomy.  This would be enough to destabilize an already shaky region which has Iran increasingly enmeshed in Iraq's affairs.  Time is pressing for Bush the optimist, whose Iraq policy is approved by a mere 34 percent in the U.S.” 


"For Iraq, A Constitution Full Of Dangers"


Christophe Boltanski wrote in left-of-center Liberation (8/24):  “The White House, which is in dire need of good news from Iraq, saluted the ‘advance made in Iraq.’  But even if an agreement on the Constitution is reached by Thursday, it will not help to reduce violence on the ground or put an end to the controversy in the U.S.  In its editorial, the NY Times was very critical of the charter which it considers to be an open door to a ‘Iranian-style theocracy’ in Iraq."


"The Neo-Conservative Ambassador From Kabul To Baghdad"


Corine Lesnes commented in left-of-center Le Monde (8/24):  “Khalizad was among the neo-conservatives who had initially said that toppling Saddam would help spread democracy in the Middle East....  After having been ‘Bush's Afghan’ he has become ‘Condi’s Iraqi.’  But Baghdad is not Kabul....  The former Ambassador, John Negroponte had shined by his discretion....  Today the Iraqis resent Washington's pressures....  Khalizad does not deny having provided fully written parts of the Constitution to the Iraqis....  Khalizad continues to believe that Iraq can be an example for the Middle East....  After the August 15 failure, he went back to the drawing board, especially since the Constitution is the key to Washington's exit strategy.”


“In Iraq, Policy, Not War”


Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute opined in right-of-center Les Echos (8/24):  “In Iraq, the U.S. has won the war of the skies but cannot impose itself on the ground....  War is often a sign that politics have failed....  Every time the U.S. refuses to give a date for the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, it feeds the insurrection....  Too many Iraqis are ready to die in their fight against the occupier....  No one doubts the need to fight terrorism.  But the war in Iraq and huge military spending are something else.  Americans must invest in peaceful development rather than in military bases in countries that are being exploited.  The U.S. must withdraw from Iraq.  Afterwards, the U.S. will be able to use its political and economic weight to participate in the management of a complex and difficult situation it has helped create.”


GERMANY:  "Fatal Time Pressure"


Reymer Klüver had this to say in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/29):  "This failure could hardly be more spectacular....  Even though a constitutional draft has formally be presented, the talks de facto failed because the Sunnis refuse to approve the text.  The United States is faced with a pile of debris:  Its strategy to force the arguing groups in Iraq to find an agreement by insisting on a tight timetable for the formation of the government, the agreement on a constitutional draft and parliamentary elections failed.   Those who give ultimata and set deadlines should at least have an idea of what should happen if this agreement is not reached...but the events in Iraq showed that the Americans had no 'Plan B,' no idea of what needs to be done if the Sunnis continue to refuse to give their approval.  Right from the onset, it was a mistake to reach an agreement by exerting time pressure....  A new wave of violence will now break out in Iraq if the Sunnis leave the political debate after the bickering about a new constitution and support extremists and rebels.  If this happens, the Americans would not only be faced with a political but also a military failure in Iraq."


"Iraqi Dilemmas"


Rainer Herrmann argued in a front-page editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/29):  "Formally the Iraqi convention on the drafting of a constitution has reached its goal...but politically it failed: all sides involved did not reach a comprehensive consensus....  This first attempt for a constitution is threatening to fail because two dilemmas cannot be resolved: First, it requires much time to work out a constitution...but Iraq does not have this time....  The second dilemma is even harder to dissolve.  During many centuries, the Sunnis ruled over the region.  Obviously, they are not yet willing to submit to the Shiite majority, while the Shiite and the Kurds plan to radically break with the past....  The goals of the three ethnic groups differ too much and they cannot be met in a central state."


"Hope For Iraq"


Dietrich Alexander contended in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/29):  "A constitutional draft for Iraq after all!  It is by no means clear whether this is also the hour of beginning of a new Islamic-democratic model state....  We cannot and should not expect the Iraqis to pull a rabbit out of the constitutional hat that can define an Iraqi identity and harmonizes with Kurdish and Shiite efforts for autonomy....  We should beware of too much euphoria, but overwhelming pessimism is also out of place in view of this respectable and democratic achievement of the Iraqi constitutional fathers....  The three large ethnic groups should first of all find a modus vivendi which reflects...the power realities in Iraq and that could be changed and amended later and be adjusted to the situation.  That is why the convention acted wisely by referring the question of federalism to a future institution with greater legitimacy....  The Kurds must then bid farewell to their previous priority treatment and overrepresentation like some Shiites from the idea of an Islamic religious state, or the Sunnis from their striving for a central authority....  But a federal structure should not mean that the Sunnis are turned to pariahs and live in a large sandbox along the central Euphrates river without getting access to the oil wells in the South and North....  The Americans should not play a role in all this.  A constitution dictated by the 'infidels' would have no chance.  The Iraqis must take time and live, if necessary, with an interim constitution for years.  But they must finally begin to take their fate into their own hands.  The starting signal was given yesterday."




Birgit Cerah opined in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (8/26):  "Iraq's political power games are intensifying in their ugliness and their brutality.  But it was the discussion about the constitution, which was supposed to reconcile the ethnic groups that had fallen out with each other.  But the opposite has taken place.  The rows over federalism, Islam, and oil revenue have revealed the potential for a civil war.  Even the usually restrained Saudis are now admonishing their neighbors.  If a civil war begins in Iraq, then it will first influence Saudi Arabia.  The U.S. pressure to stick to a certain timetable…dramatically escalated the situation.  It requires wisdom and willingness for compromise to lead the country to democracy to save the unity of a country that was drafted on the colonial drawing board.  This also requires time, but the Iraqis…did not get this time....  A constitution without consensus promises an even worse situation or no future at all.  Nevertheless, many Sunnis are determined to express their 'no' not by using a gun but by going to the polls.  Even if this required a new beginning of the constitutional process, this setback would correspond with the will to use democratic means.  This alone is considerable progress."


"Looks Like A Funeral"


Right-of-center Rheinische Post of Düsseldorf (8/26) argued:  "This was a black day for Iraq, since it was characterized by a grave political defeat.  The vote on the constitutional draft was postponed for the third time, and this time to an undetermined day in the future.  This looks like the funeral for a document that was supposed to bring Iraq a charter for a free and peaceful co-existence.  The timetable is now getting mixed up.  It is in the stars when the interim constitution can be replaced by a final version that is accepted by all ethnic groups....  Thus far, it has mainly been Sunni terrorists, old Saddam cadres, and supporters of a Sunni-led Baath party have relied on the use of force.  They want to use all means possible means to prevent democratic improvements.  But now the violence is also breaking out among the Shiites.  Iraq is heading for a civil war."


"The 'Period' Trap"


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg (8/25) had this to say:  "In the drama about Iraq's future constitution... impatience could turn into a real danger.  President Bush urgently needs a success story for an increasingly skeptical public at home.  The official deadlines for the adoption of the constitution passed long ago and this is why pressure is mounting to end the case quickly and to postpone all open questions.  But this would be the false approach.  In the constitutional question, it is not swiftness that counts but mainly the quality of the compromises on the most important controversial questions....  Whatever the size of the current problems, no one should ever underestimate the historic dimension of this task and the enormous difficulties of all sides involved.  In Baghdad, a constitution must be worked out for a country that came into existence as a colonial artificial edifice, a country that does not have a democratic tradition nor models in its neighborhood....  Even under the most peaceful framework condition, it would be a Herculean task to settle these conflicts.  But in Baghdad, the environment is not peaceful:  Various groups are trying to prevent any stabilization by using force.  That is why it is all the more important to keep the political process alive.  Leading Sunnis...are now calling upon their supporters to reject the constitution in the planned referendum in October.  This would be another bitter setback, but it also shows that civil war is not unavoidable.  Those who pin their hopes on the ballot boxes instead of arms have not yet written off a joint future."




Ulrich Ladurner opined in center-left weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (8/25):  "It is difficult to side with the Sunni Arabs...but this is exactly necessary now.  The Iraqis are drafting their constitution, and it seems that the needs and interests of the Sunnis are ignored....  Indeed, the planned federalization of Iraq provides the Kurds and Shiites with autonomous areas and the control the oil fields.  Kirkuk and Basra, not Baghdad, will be the names of the new centers of power.  We could now certainly wonder whether this is wrong...but the answer is that Iraq will not have a future without Sunnis.  If they refuse to cooperate, Iraq will disintegrate.  Then it may be possible that Kurds and Shiites will control their areas including the oil resources, but they will not be happy with it.  For a disintegration will be bloody, no one will come to rest, irrespective of how many rights or oil he has."




Dietrich Alexander opined in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/24):  "It is [not?] a miracle that the Kurds and the Shiites have more or less reached an agreement on the future political structure of the country, since they want the same:  far-reaching autonomy and independence from the central government in Baghdad.  But this is what the Sunnis reject...and they have good reason to do so....  But the Sunnis may reject the federal structure as much as they can but they will be unable to prevent it if the population majority of the Shiites approves it and if the Kurds back them.  The Kurds established this [federal] system long ago under the allied protective shield.  For them, there is no alternative.  But Shiites and Kurds should not make the mistake to assert their constitutional draft over the Sunnis' head....  The Sunnis must be represented in a politically appropriate way and must get their share in the oil revenue of the country.  But before, they should give up their political boycott....  This would deprive the foundations of Sunni terrorism under Zarkawi.  In view of all this, time pressure from Washington is not useful, for at issue in Iraq is vital questions that will decisive for war and peace."


"By Hook Or By Crook"


Markus Ziener penned the following front-page editorial for business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (8/24):  "There are many reasons for strife in Iraq:  there is the artificially created U.S. time pressure....  there is the fact that the majority of Sunnis abstained from voting in the January elections and since they are dependent on the mercy of Kurds and Shiites, there is also the Sunni fear to go down in an Iraq where the Shiites have the majority.  All these are reasons to postpone a discussion over the constitution.  But in Iraq nothing is normal.  The United States wants to accomplish one thing:  to create facts.  If the military pacification of the country does not succeed, then political progress must be presentable.  Washington is even willing to accept a Shiite-Iranian dominance to achieve this goal.  This gives us some indication of the White House's despair about the situation in Iraq.  But even Kurds and Shiites seem to be determined to assert their constitutional ideas against the Sunnis.  Against the historical background of a decade-long suppression by the Sunnis, this attitude is understandable.  A bad constitution is better than no constitution?  No, this view is wrong.  It would be another birth defect of the new Iraq.  The country would suffer, again and again."




Center-right Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung (8/24) noted:  "Iraq is far away from being an anchor of stability in the Middle East.  The contrary is the case.  In the midst of this violence, a constitution is to be implanted which is supposed to keep the country together?  The constitution itself, in which the West rightfully pins much hope, has now turned into a bone of contention among the various ethnic groups.  The Sunnis, who had the say under Saddam, have reason to fear that Kurds and Shiites will split oil revenue among themselves in a federal Iran and leave them on the rocks.  The character of the constitution, which is supposed to unite the people, will thus be reduced to absurdity."




Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/24):  "Is the tough course of the debate over an Iraqi constitution really evidence, as skeptics on democracy in the Middle East argue, that the country can be governed only with a tough hand, i.e. with methods of a dictatorship?  It is true that fundamental differences have surfaced among the ethnic groups in the constitutional debate....  It is obvious that it will not be easy to find an agreement on it.  But those, including the ones in the United States, who declare the democracy experiment in Iraq a failure, should keep one thing in mind: there had been conflicts in the past, but under Saddam they were 'settled' by displacing, suppressing or killing people....  Those who are impressed by the seriousness of the constitutional debate in light of terror have by no means been taken in by U.S. propaganda.  These attempts do exist like Washington's attempts to determine the course in Baghdad.  But you can look at it from whatever angle you like, Iraq will have a new face sooner or later."


"America's Illusion"


Tomas Avenarius judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/24):  "Iraq is not a historically grown country.  It is an artificial product that came into existence through borders drawn by the mandatory powers after WWI; and they did not show any consideration for ethnic and religious particularities.  This is now coming back to haunt [the Americans]....  Saddam's dictatorship kept this edifice together.  The federal and democratic republic, which the United States is striving for has not yet created this unity....  The constitutional draft will hardly get the approval by the Sunnis in October.  They have no incentive to accept it, since they are excluded from power.  This means that disintegration is looming....  The beneficiaries would be the Kurds who have dreamt for years about their own state.  The other winner would be Iran.  A Shiite government in southern Iraq...will seek proximity with Shiite Iran.  This is all the more so since Iranian politicians already have a certain control over the Shiite parties in Iraq.  Thus the mullah regime, which the United States has grimly fought for 25 years, could be the real beneficiary of George W. Bush's policy."


"Holidays From War"


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg (8/23) editorialized:  "President Bush calls his policy towards Iraq 'strategy' but it is increasingly the attempt to hush up a failure.  The shyness to accept reality may be understandable in view of the disastrous situation in Iraq.  Some events remind Americans of their most painful wound in their mind:  Vietnam.  At that time, people departed from Washington with power illusions.  But the withdrawal also had a totally different meaning.  Today, it would not only be confession of a defeat.  The implications for Iraq and the entire Middle East and for the international security situation would be disastrous.  To the extent to which calls in the United States for a withdrawal are getting louder, President Bush should counter such appeals.  But he is shying away from assuming responsibility for his incomplete democratization work.  A withdrawal is no reasonable alternative, and a dramatic extension of the military presence is hardly imaginable in view of the mood in the United States and the problems to recruit people either.  That is why it is all the more important that Bush explains how he wants to get out of the confused situation.  Among the many bad alternatives an unpopular reinforcement of the forces and thus a possibly more active strategy in the hunt for insurgents seems to be the best alternative.  But this change of strategy would result in even more U.S. victims.  No wonder that Bush prefers to go on vacation instead of talking plain English."


ITALY:  "A Missed Opportunity"


Aldo Rizzo commented in centrist, influential La Stampa (8/29):  “This Iraqi Constitution risks remaining a theoretical document, a missed opportunity or worse, triggering a civil war that is, after all, already creeping up....  The dispute is not doctrinaire, it does not affect, except in a minor way, the aspects of a possible democratic future.  Rather it concerns the central crux of power, its distribution among the three ethnic groups, and a power that signifies the sole control and great wealth of the country, oil....  The Sunnis can block the popular referendum in the middle of October, winning only two-thirds of the votes in three of eight provinces....  Or alternatively, they could nullify popular consultation, further extending the homicidal and suicidal violence.  If these extreme hypotheses were realized, the 'democratic process’, instead of being or appearing to be the only plausible justification for Bush's war against Saddam, would be the detonator of an even greater crisis that could definitively blow up Iraq (and its surroundings).”


"A Slap In The Face To The U.S."


Bernardo Valli asserted in left-leaning, influential la Repubblica (8/29):  “The American forceps did not work.  They have not managed to draw a unanimous consensus from the Iraqi mix of the three large communities on the text of the Constitution, to submit to a referendum next October.  An indispensable consensus in order to advance the political process, on whose success Iraqi victory is dependent....  The operation, intended to provide this volcanic country with a democratic Constitution, is ambitious and praiseworthy.  It is titanic.  One does not often see such an the Middle East.  But the idea of being able to deliver a democracy from the Iraqi reality, using a force composed of the most historically modern and powerful nations as a forceps, appeared risky from the beginning.  You can understand why Bush would defend it....  And he is in hurry to realize it.  Since the original objective of annihilating the threat of weapons of mass destruction, which were revealed to be nonexistent, vanished, the U.S. President wants to demonstrate that the three years of military adventure, in spite of the large human, political, and moral cost, served to set Iraq on a path towards democracy.”


“Iranian Specter On Constitution”


An article on the front page of elite, center-left daily Il Riformista (8/26) commented:  “The re-explosion of the clash in the Shiite camp do with the constitution.  Sadr, who has always been close to the more radical Iranian segments, is apparently in favor of a constitution that offers a federalist outlet to a future Shiite region inevitably bound to gravitate toward Iran....  The new constitution is bringing all the unresolved issues of the Iraqi transition to light.  The hastiness of the White House, determined to continue quickly with the exit strategy, was not beneficial.  The sole objective of the constitutional agreement should not have been the difficult and necessary compromise between the Shiites and Kurds...but it should have also aimed at dividing the Sunni alignment....  American contacts with the insurgents in recent months aimed exactly at that.  Washington's endorsement of a text that severely punishes the Sunnis, reunites all the components in a new ‘front of refusal.’  It is a dangerous move because, despite internal divisions, this time the Sunnis will vote....  The Sunni reaction could not have been but negative.  The highly influential Council of the Ulemas claims that the new constitution presages the division and explosion of the country, and refuses to recognize it as legitimate.”


"A Theocratic Iraq"


Giuliana Sgrena, former Italian hostage in Iraq, commented in Communist Il Manifesto (8/25):  "Bush’s new ultimatum, the approval of the constitution to maintain the timetable established by the U.S. before the departure of CPA Paul Bremer, is quickly leading Iraq toward a Lebanon-like situation....  The entire process, which was triggered by the war and the occupation, is leading the country adrift, beginning with the power vacuum created when foreign armies overthrew Saddam’s regime.  Iraq is a country in which no laws are in effect, that must be rebuilt from its foundation and that must give itself its own forms of democracy following decades of a bloody dictatorial regime, while it had to approve a constitution in record time (three months!)--something that can only work in Washington.  So the land of Babylonia...had to accept a constitution imposed by the new U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad....  In order to ‘export democracy,’ Bush has created a new Shiite Islamic state ally of Tehran just when he is on a collision course with Tehran.  The laity--Kurds, Shiites, Sunni--and the minorities are fundamentally excluded from a process that should guarantee democratization....  The Sunnis boycotted the elections because they were taking place under occupation, but now they are signing up...for the referendum on the constitution....  While the elections in January...were clearly a false move--elections in themselves do not represent democracy, especially if they exclude 20 per cent of the population--the approval of the constitution without the Sunnis’ approval is even worse because it jeopardizes the future of the country and a Lebanonization is certainly not desirable, although it currently appears inevitable.”


"Saddam’s Shadow Disrupts Enactment Of The Constitution"


Gabriel Bertinetto in pro-Democratic Left Party (DS) l’Unita (8/25):  “Since the end of the dictatorship, the Sunnis live in fear of complete marginalization....  Acknowledging that they are only 20% of the population, they fear remaining crushed in a mechanism of political and institutional reorganization that may not coincide with the democratic process label given by the Americans....  When in the articles proposed by Shiites and Kurds there appears ‘any organization that adopts a racist, terrorist, extremist, or partisan ideology with particular reference to Saddam’s Baathist party,’ it alarms them and they protest.  Not for the love of the tyrant, but because they interpret the explicit mention of the former party as the source of enduring future ostracism in the clash of these hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who accepted the Baath party during Saddam’s time, and because of this, by one of the most senseless American decisions, they lost their job in a liberated and occupied Iraq.  Everyone, not only the hierarchy and accomplices of the crimes committed by Saddam.” 


"Iraq, Shiites Decided: Tomorrow We Will Approve New Constitution"


Fausto Biloslavo noted in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (8/24):  “The tug-of-war over the Iraqi constitution continues, with the Shiites determined to vote on it in Parliament without changes, the Sunnis threatening a civil war and the Kurds in the middle....  According to President Bush, the Iraqi people have already changed, with respect to a past dictatorship, by preparing the draft constitution.  The White House chief is urging the Iraqis to reach a consensus among all of the factions, but warns: ‘The Sunnis must choose.  Do they want to live in a free society or amidst violence?’”


"Sunnis Have Final Say On Constitution"


Michele Farina observed in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (8/24):  “Article 2 in the constitution presented the other night in Baghdad’s Parliament defines the political system as follows:  ‘Republican, parliamentary, democratic and federal.’  The Sunnis are against federalism.  They are afraid it will divide the country: They fear losing the oil that is found almost entirely in the Shiite South and Kurdish North....  The Sunnis are already thinking about a referendum and a way to rebuff the draft constitution....  A referendum.  Like in Switzerland.  The people will decide.  The only thing is that this is Iraq.”


“Baghdad’s Hidden Fiesta”


Magdi Allam in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (8/23):  “It is an eleventh hour compromise to attempt to obtain the adherence of the Sunni minority to the founding act of the new free and democratic Iraqi state, approved by the majority of Shiites and Kurds who hold 215 out of 275 parliamentary seats....  The Sunnis’ real problem is the oppressive conditioning by Saddamist and Binladian terrorist groups....  In any event, the day after tomorrow we will have the official text of the draft of the new Constitution, proof of the Iraqis’ determined will for freedom and democracy.  Now we must only hope that we--in Italy, in Europe and in the West--will open both our eyes once and for all and see Iraq's reality for what it is, not for what we imagine it to be with the ideological filters that...depict a succession of terrorist attacks as what some are still acts of ‘resistance.’”  


“Iraq, The First Agreement Between Shiites And Kurds”


 Alberto Negri in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (8/23):  “The new Constitution describes Iraq as ‘a republican, parliamentary, democratic, and federal state,’ but for what filtered through yesterday, the still an imprecise description on an autonomous level of the various federalist components....  These problems seem to be unresolved in the constitutional draft and Islam's role is still not clear.  It is true that Islam becomes one of the sources of legislation, a common factor in a majority of Muslim States....  The real question is what will be, amid the influence of religious autonomists and fundamentalists, the material application of the new Constitution that will go into effect only after the popular referendum on October 15.  However, we must make two observations:  This document was written in a war zone, in a country constantly on the verge of civil conflict.  Thus, the writing of the draft shows itself to be a process that has divided instead of unified the three principal Iraqi components.  Maybe all of this was inevitable, but in the meantime, while parties and constituents discuss, very little has been done to halt the collapse of the Iraqi State and its civil society.”  


“Federal Oil”


Boris Biancheri in centrist, influential daily La Stampa (8/23):  “The Americans are more or less discretely piloting the process (thanks also to their active Ambassador to Baghdad of Iraqi origin) and finding themselves in a dilemma.  Typically more favorable to the federal formula which is closer to their own concept of democracy and in any case is supported, other than by the Kurds, also by authoritarian Shiite influences, they realize that the greater the federalism, the greater the individual rights will be....  In the final phases, the Americans are pushing for it to be done quickly.  It is understandable.  The start of a democratic process has until now been the only positive factor in such a disastrous war.”


“A Providential Draft”


An article in elite, center-left daily Il Riformista (8/23):  “Everything leaves one to believe that the agreement was reached more by forcing through ongoing differences in order to avoid another delay in the deadline for the agreement, rather than succeed in the attempt to approve a genuinely shared solution among the three areas of the country and the dozens of political parties that really count.  Knowing that Tehran has again begun rooting for intransigence, and how sharpness of the claws of the numerous Sunni insurgents, it is too early to toast to victory.”

RUSSIA:  "Sunni Overboard”


Reformist Vremya Novostey quoted Georgiy Mirskiy of the International Relations and World Economy Institute (8/29):  “Sunni politicians--the most active and wily ones--are out to sink the constitution in October.  Despite the many concessions made to them, they deliberately exaggerate problems related to federalism.  Clearly, the Sunnis would like the elections to strengthen their position considerably.  They boycotted last January's vote and are determined to make up for it by thoroughly preparing for the new elections.  It is not ruled out that the Sunni will come to terms with the majority Shia...killing the idea of federalism, with the Kurds hurt the most.”


"A Boundless Constitution”


Vladimir Bogdanov stated in official Rossiyskaya Gazeta (8/29):  “Many experts fear the current shaky compromise is no ultimate solution to the problem of an Iraqi constitution.  The probability that the draft basic law will not survive the referendum is quite high.  It will not if the three central Sunni-dominated provinces vote against it.   There is no unity among the Shiia either.”


"Draft Grants Kurdish, Shia Autonomy"


Alexander Samokhotkin commented in reformist Vremya Novostei (8/24):  "The draft was the result of accords reached by the Kurds and Shia religious leaders controlling 225 out of 275 seats in the National Assembly.  It takes account of far from all demands by Sunnis (only having 17 seats in parliament), who used to be a privileged minority under Saddam Hussein....  The name of the future state--the Republic of Iraq--does not contain the words 'Islamic' (on which the Shia initially insisted) and 'federative' (which Kurds wanted).  Still the draft fundamental law defines the state as a parliamentary federation, in which Kurds and Shia would have autonomy.  Sunnis dislike this.  They have threatened the United States by the prospect of the emergence of a Shia state in southern Iraq--close to the borders of Shia Iran, so much hated by Washington....  To ease differences, the draft will contain a provision reading that oil revenues will be distributed among regions in proportion to their population.  This is a serious concession by Kurds to Sunni Arabs making one-third of Iraqis.  Kurds make 20 percent of the country's population and initially wanted 65 percent of oil revenues....  U.S. Ambassador Zalmai Khalilzad has noted that Sunnis' participation in the preparation of the Constitution is very important, because it is impossible to defeat combatants by military means alone.  It is worth noting that Sunnis make a majority among Iraqi rebels."


"Without A Constitution" 


Vladimir Bogdanov wrote in the official government Rossiiskaya Gazeta (8/23):  "If the Iraqis fail to agree on a Constitution, the country will be back to square one.  The National Assembly would be dissolved.  And it would be anyone's guess in what direction things would move.  To start everything from scratch?  But this is not in the interests of the Americans or the Iraqis.  The first to suffer from such a decision would be the image of the U.S. and the current administration.  Last year Washington was jubilant that the plan for Iraq had been approved and accepted by the international community....  Now it risks drawing a blank.  If things collapse now, it means all their efforts had been in vain and the withdrawal of American troops will become highly problematic.  The White House is so eager to see an early adoption of the Constitution that it has even dropped its objections to the role of Islam in Iraq.  Washington has agreed that Islam would be declared one of the 'sources' in the development of new legislation.  That is a huge concession on the part of the U.S."


AUSTRIA:  "Time Is Running Out For Iraq"


Commentator for centrist Die Presse Helmut Dumbs opined (8/24):  “’We cannot please everybody,’ says Iraq’s Shiite President Ibrahim al-Jafari. What that means is:  If the Sunnis do not accept our constitutional draft, we won't bother any more.  After all, the draft can pass the parliamentary hurdle with a comfortable Shiite Kurdish majority--however, there is the danger that it will be rejected in a referendum in the core Sunni provinces.  Then the tedious process would have to begin again.  Time, however, is running out for Iraq.  The circle of violence that has been set in motion by Sunni rebels, Shiite militia, and government-affiliated death squadrons is spinning out of control, the danger of a civil war is looming.  If the situation keeps deteriorating, one thing could prove to be an advantage:  The fact that the state whose constitution is currently the bone of contention, will soon no longer exist.  The gamble for federalism and oil is a dangerous one.  Some Iraqi politicians seem to accept that. However, a wildfire could also sweep them away.”


"Dead End"


Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer commented in independent Der Standard  (8/24):  “The truth is that there is not even a clear definition of what exactly is being discussed....  What next?  At the moment, all scenarios are more or less bad.  If the Iraqi parties should manage to agree on a joint draft, the best that can be hoped for is that its wording is such as not to aggravate the problems.  The word ‘federal’ in the draft will solve nothing.  If a clear definition is to be postponed to a future date, specific mechanisms and procedures of how this is to be done will have to be worked out beforehand.  However, the participants are still far from having reached that point.  All unresolved issues will eventually be dealt with in a parliamentary process.  This, however, would create just the kind of situation that the consensual approach was supposed to avoid:  In that case, the parties would not be sitting at the same table as equal partners, but according to their parliamentary majority.  This is the reason why the Arab Sunnis have such a hard time agreeing to a sketchy draft like the one presented on Monday.  The worst thing, however, is the fact that the definitions are already being worked out on the ground, and that means bloodshed--more than is reported by the media.  After all, no journalists are present when Shiite Badr militia and Sunni tribes are fighting each other in the south of Baghdad.”


“A Federal, Islamic Future For Iraq?”


The center-left Irish Times (8/24) commented:  “Political representatives of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority have until tomorrow to sign up to a draft constitution agreed earlier this week by the country's two other major ethnic groupings--the Shias and Kurds.  It seems unlikely that the (mainly Sunni) insurgents will go along with what is being proposed.  The stage is thus set for continuing, if not accelerating, bloodshed in the run-up to a referendum on the constitution, scheduled for October, and elections to form a new government, scheduled for December....  On the key issue of federalism and resources, the constitution seeks to strike a careful balance in which key powers are centralized but resources are not pillaged from the regions by central government....  Thus the constitution seeks to devolve power and responsibility from Baghdad, while simultaneously imposing a partnership between central and regional government.  Sunnis, who formed the backbone of Saddam's dictatorship, do not like all of this.  Shias and Kurds, who make up the overwhelming bulk of the population, have achieved much of what they wanted.  But it is in their interest, and the interest of everyone outside Iraq, that the constitution receives the widest possible endorsement if Iraqis are to have any chance of stabilizing their country and living in peace.”


“Fighting About Oil And Power”


Foreign affairs editor for mass circulation daily Kuirer Livia Klingl opined (8/23):  “The U.S. has seriously blundered in Iraq.  Instead of a modern, secular democracy with a strong center that is going to impact despotic states and religious dictatorships in the region, Iraq is going to become a religious construct with a weak center and strong centrifugal forces based on the power of clans--a political construct that physically can be compared to a washing machine without a door and, from a religious point of view, resembles one of the members of the axis of evil, Iran.  Islam will not simply be one of the sources of jurisprudence in Iraq, it will be a chief source--and that, despite assertions to the contrary voiced by the U.S. before, during, and after the war, means that the situation of women will deteriorate considerably.  These tendencies are mostly good news for the regional power Iran....  First, Washington bombed the Iranian mullahs’ biggest enemies from power, the Taliban, who wanted to establish a state that was to be even more Islamic than Iran.  Then, the Americans did the same with Iran's second-biggest enemy, Saddam Hussein, who, like Teheran, for years entertained ambitions of becoming a hegemonic power.  True, Iran is currently under international observance on account of its nuclear politics.  On the domestic side, however, the hardliners’ power is cemented.  And in the region, Teheran has achieved its goals.  Quite in contrast to the U.S., which, at best, can gloss over the mess it has gotten itself into.”


BELGIUM:  "Complete Deadlock"


Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn wrote in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (8/27):  “Two and a half years after the American invasion and the fall of Saddam Iraq is more divided than ever.  That artificial country had always been divided, but the Americans’ mistakes have only amplified that rift.  Not much is needed today to make the nightmare scenario become reality: civil war.  The impasse over the Constitution may ignite the fuse....  The Americans are exerting a lot of pressure on the Iraqis to make them solve their problems, but they can only wait and see.  They no longer have a grip on the events.  More and more they have to fear that their intervention in Iraq will lead to the creation of a fundamentalist regime.  That would be the complete failure of their policy.”


"Hoping For Iraqi Exception"


Foreign editor Jean Vanempten commented in financial daily De Tijd (8/27):  “In the Arab world there are no successful federal states.  There is a natural trend towards strongly centralized states with firm leaderships--which often do not operate democratically.  Iraq can be an exception and even play a pioneering role in the Middle East.  That is what the strategists in the White House are hoping, but that scenario does not take the Iraqi reality into account.  Whatever Constitution is presented to the Iraqi people in October, or even later, it will not remove the deep division.  It is clear that the political leadership in Baghdad receives only little support from the people and that makes a political solution difficult.  Hopefully, the Iraqis will find a viable compromise"


IRELAND:  "Bush On The Back Foot"


The center right, populist Irish Independent editorialized (8/25):  “Negotiations for a new Iraqi constitution, due to conclude today, are revealing the forces that threaten to tear the country apart....  At face value, a federal system for a country that is basically three countries in one would seem to make sense.  However, it doesn't make sense to the Sunnis because they know that the oil wealth of Iraq, which they exploited for decades, is located mainly in the regions where Kurds and Shias are dominant.  For this reason they fear that a federal Iraq will leave them impoverished and means they want guarantees that they will have a share of the oil revenue that is the basis of Iraq's economy.  These issues will not be easy to resolve, but is absolutely vital that a constitution which is more or less acceptable to all three of the main communities in Iraq be agreed, and then passed by the people later this year.  The alternative, which is possibly a Balkans-style conflagration, is too awful to contemplate.”


NORWAY:  "Iraq’s Uneasy Future"


The newspaper-of-record Aftenposten (8/30) commented:  “'We will help the Iraqi people to establish a peaceful and democratic country in the heart of the Middle East.  And by doing this, we will defend our people against danger.'  This is how President George W. Bush formulated his grand strategic goal for Iraq in a speech in London in November 2003....  [But] Iraq is far from peaceful.  Democracy…also seems a distant goal.  The draft constitution…does not make the goal more achievable.  Since the Sunnis refuse to accept it, an important precondition for peace and democracy in Iraq is missing....  The situation can lead to continued war and unrest, regardless of whether the Americans pull out and leave the Iraqis themselves to make decisions.  Because the question…is:  who are the Iraqis?  Is there a common denominator for the three groups, one on which it is possible to build an independent, peaceful, and successful state?....  [In the Arab world there are not at present any examples of successful decentralized, multiethnic and multi-religious states.  The revenge motive--Kurds and Shias were oppressed by Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated Baath Party--is still strong.  And the Sunnis have contributed to weakening their own position by refusing until now to be part of the political process....  [But] the work on the constitution may still have had a positive effect.  The only way Sunnis can avoid the adoption of the Constitution is by voting in the referendum on October 15.  If they vote against it, that is negative.  But participation is at least a positive contribution to the democratic process in Iraq.  This is one of very few encouraging aspects [of the situation in Iraq].”


"Four Years In Iraq"


Independent newspaper VG (8/23) commented:  “U.S. Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker says that more than 10,000 U.S. soldiers could remain in Iraq for four more years.  In that case, many will return home in a coffin.  Those who compare [the war in Iraq] to the war in Vietnam could be right:  The longer the Americans remain in Iraq, the more problems they will have.”


POLAND:  "Iraq Still Without Constitution"


Jacek Przybylski wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (8/23):  “The draft constitution was made ready at the last moment by the Shiites and the Kurds. Together, the groups have 215 of the 275 seats in the Parliament.  Thus, if they decided to force the draft at any cost, they would probably succeed. They gave up the idea, though, faced with strong resistance from the Arab Sunni.  The latter constitute a decisive minority--both in the country and in the Parliament--but to work out a constitution without their approval would only further destabilize the situation in Iraq.  America’s hope for curbing terrorism might then prove futile.”


ROMANIA:  "Is There A Victory Strategy For Iraq?"


In the pro-Democratic Convention and Civic Alliance Romania Libera (8/24) journalist Cristian Campeanu opined:  "Between the left and right wings in America, there is a dialogue of the deaf that is highly unlikely to result in a solution.  The reasons are, first and foremost, of an ideological nature and have very little to do with Iraq itself....  Leaving Iraq in the hands of Bin Laden, Al Zarqawi and Moqtada Sadr is like a bullet to the head of the Western civilization.  From this point of view, Bush is right in saying that there is no alternative to victory.  The problem though continues to be the way in which they get there....  The political regime that would reconcile democracy with sharia does not exist yet.  And sending 2,000 people out there to die in order to have a Taliban regime next to an Iranian-like theocracy, instead of Saddam Hussein, that would be the real definition of defeat.”


SPAIN:  "The Iraqi Fracture"


centrist La Vanguardia opined (8/30): "The White House 'is proud' of the agreement, but it is still to be seen if it is translated into political and security normalization that allows for the retreat of American troops... Far from political calculations, the writing of the Constitution has brought up question marks on two key points: the definition of Islam as 'a main source of legislation,' and the federal structure of a State that institutionalizes Kurdish autonomy in the north and opens the door to the creation of a Shiite region in the south, the two major oil reserve zones. The result could turn Iraq, once a dictatorial State, into a fractured and failed State, and put the Shiite territory under the influence of the theocratic Iranian State. The process of democratization, in summary, could turn into an internal failure and the rise of an Islamic regime where before there was none, a risk that could boomerang against its promoters."


"Iraq And Federalism"


Conservative ABC (8/26) editorialized:  "Not much imagination was needed to know by intuition...that Saddam Hussein’s defeat would lead to the collapse of the Iraqi state....   And, according to the circumstances, that collapse would finish in a federal-independent leaning and Islamic system....  In addition to the threat of a civil war, federalism would bring with it international tensions not to be ignored....  The options are not promising.  They can't be.  The U.S. got into this war with post-war plans so naive they seem perverse.   The 'democratic process for the new Iraq' will end in the practical disintegration of the country, under the shadow of a possible civil war and armed regional conflict.  A worrying balance."


"Iraq, A Rough Draft"


Left-of-center El País declared (8/24):  "More than being at the end of negotiations for a democratic (Iraqi) Constitution, it could be said that the political forces...are in the last stage of a peace process.  And, to a large extent, the budding Constitution is that: an attempt to avoid a break down in Iraq leading to civil war....  If the General Assembly approves the project, Iraq will have taken a decisive step towards democracy, but it also has shown its weakness as a state and its conversion to Islamic tendencies, something that was not in the general plans of the Bush administration when it invaded the country....  Plunged into violence and chaos, the country is like its Constitution: a rough draft.  An agreement that includes the Sunnis, although improbable, is an indispensable condition (although it may not be enough) to reduce violence in the country.  A lack of agreement will fuel (violence).  In any case, with this draft, Iraq will not be transformed into a light of democracy and modernity for the rest of the Arab and Muslim world as proclaimed by Washington.  Despite of the 'total victory' Bush says he is pursuing, it will be shaped by much less."   


TURKEY:  "A Federal Iraq"


Kamuran Ozbir wrote in the nationalist Ortadogu (8/29):  “Is Iraq turning into a federal system?  Federalism is a democratic method, but nothing is clear as far as the future of Iraq is concerned....  Even if the constitution is approved by the people during the upcoming referendum, the problems will remain.  The constitution in its current form has loopholes that will create many problems along the way.  The constitution will not help the Shiites and Kurds to act together.  Due to its theocratic structure shaped to favor Shiite demands, the Iraqi constitution may lay the ground for the Kurds to split off from Iraq even if it passes at referendum.  The continuing violence is another major problem for the future of Iraq.  The U.S. may decide to pull out due to the increase in terrorist acts.  If so, Iraq may end up as a field of conflict between Shiites and Sunnis.  The new constitution in Iraq is not the end of the story.  In fact, the genuine struggle in Iraq is beginning right now.”


"Iraq’s Constitution"


Erhan Basyurt wrote in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (8/26):  “The new Iraqi constitution was drafted by the Shiites and the Kurds, while objections from the Sunnis were ignored.  At this point, fundamental changes to the text seem unlikely.  The constitutional draft includes advanced standards on freedom and minority rights.  It accepts Arabic and Kurdish as the two official languages, and paves the way for Kurdish language education in a federal region of Kurdistan....  Other minorities, such as Turkmens and Assyrians, are not ignored either.  Their right to education in their mother tongue will be allowed upon request....  It is also important that the Iraqi constitution defines a good structure with regard to the relationship between the state and religion.  The constitution accepts Islam as the state’s official religion, but rules out the passage of any law which is against both Islam and democracy.  In other words, Iraq will not be a religious state, and a conflict between the state and religion is prevented....  The main issue about the new constitution is the extent to which it will really be implemented, even if it is approved by the people of Iraq.  The constitution, in its current form, could bring chaos to Iraq in the short term, because Iraq does not have a deeply-rooted democratic experience.  On the contrary, Iraq presents a complex picture with its competing ethnic, linguistic, and religious groupings.  Given the impact of tribal culture in daily life and the low level of education, Iraq may not continue to sail toward freedom, but may find itself in chaos and under pressure from divisive forces.  Deferring the status of Kirkuk until 2007 is another potential problem for Iraq’s future....  Under its new constitution, Iraq is designed to be a model for the region.  Let’s hope that it will not end up being dragged into a chaos of freedom.”


"Bush’s Democracy"


Turker Alkan commented in liberal-intellectual Radikal (8/24):  “The ethnic groups in Iraq could not agree on a draft constitution.  They have different views on key issues such as secularism, federalism, and the distribution of oil revenues.  Could this kind of administration be called a democracy?  I really don’t know.  But it is obvious that a political organization based on religion will cause problems in the future for secular countries like the U.S. and Turkey.  The United States won the war.  That was easy.  But if it continues like this, the U.S. will lose the peace.  It is obvious that the U.S. didn’t plan sufficiently on the question of who would replace Saddam.  This represents a big loss of prestige for a superpower like the U.S....  Even though the U.S. has a huge military force in Iraq, there is no guarantee that terrorism will come to an end after they leave.  Democracy and the rule of law can never be established through fiat.  If only they could be.”




ISRAEL:  "Iraq Is Not A State Anymore"


Hebrew University Professor of Political Science and former Foreign Ministry director-general Shlomo Avineri wrote in conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (8/23):  "There is no way of putting Humpty-Dumpty together again.  The Kurds and the Shi'ites will go their separate ways, and both entities have the paramilitary capability to do so.  There is no Iraqi army capable of maintaining the unity of the country.  And, just as in the former Yugoslavia, the separate countries--Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia--have a better chance of creating coherent and democratic systems than the old coercive Yugoslavia, the same may apply to Iraq....  The U.S. will obviously have to change its policy over Iraq--maybe this is what President George W. Bush is devoting his vacation to.  It would be advisable to think outside the box and realize that Iraq is not a country anymore.  This is not the end of the world, but it calls for courageous and creative thinking about alternatives."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Iraq's Divisions"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (8/30):  "The battle of the Iraqi constitution has not yet been completely settled.  In other words, there is still an opportunity to contain its possibly dangerous ramifications and to open room for efforts by sincere national powers.  The developments related to the Iraqi constitution have greatly shocked the Arab world.  The constitution offered a completely different form of Iraq and its affiliations in the Arab world."         

"Iraqis Unity" 


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (8/28):  "There are fears that the issue of the constitution will turn into a point of sharp disagreement.  The Iraqis will forget the issue of ending the occupation and the country will enter into a cycle of endless violence....  The collapse of the former regime whetted the appetite of many Iraqis to call for similar arrangements to Kurdistan....  The danger in such calls is based on sect and race in the absence of a strong central government that can resolve issues quickly....  There are demonstrations rejecting the constitution--mainly federalism.  This is an indication that the Iraqi people realize the danger of the coming phase of their history.


"The Iraqi Identity"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madinah commented (8/28):  "The Sunnis have the key to stability in Iraq.  That was an indirect message from President Bush to the constitution committee.  Secretary Rice urged the Iraqi leadership to increase the number of Sunnis in the committee.  There is fear and bitterness in the entire Arab world.  There is fear that Iraq with its Arabic history and culture may lose its Arab identity.  There are also fears of a civil war that will bring Iraq to an unknown future." 


"Sectarian Trend In Iraq"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Nadwa editorialized (8/25):  "The country is occupied, the security, social, economic and institutional systems have been destroyed; yet there are people in Iraq who want to introduce a federal system.  Introduction of a federal system in Iraq is a step backward as it is based on religious sectarianism.  Despite these worries, the Kingdom's hopes, as a neighbor and brother to Iraq, are still for the Iraqi people to work hard on unity so that they can protect their rights and ensure the future of their children.


"A Dark Destiny"


Jeddah's moderate Okaz editorialized (8/25):  "Iraqis may and may not approve the constitution, it is their right to construct the future of their country, but things look more sensitive and dangerous than expected.  A united Iraq under the umbrella of a federal system is not possible; the result will be dangerous and destructive.  A federal system based on race and religious sectarianism will get Iraq and the entire region into a disastrous future.  Iraqis are required to put the unity of Iraq on top of their priorities in order to avoid destructive results for the entire region.


"Caution About An Imported Constitution"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (8/23):  "There are fears about attempts of some Iraqi political and religious leaders to impose imported proposals on the draft of the new Iraqi constitution, which will lead to separation, a federal system and empowerment of certain religious leaders....   There are some hidden powers, which support such proposals to exclude the Iraqi Arab Sunnis and others in the new Iraq after Saddam Hussein.


"Towards Iraqi Reconciliation"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Jaziara editorialized (8/22):  "Kurds are ready to relinquish self-determination in line with a collective willingness of the Iraqi sects....  The demands for federalism made the Kurds realize that there is a danger threatening the country....  Sunnis rejected federalism as did a large percent of Shiite.  The current discussions have achieved reconciliation in many respects....  This reconciliation will make the occupation realize that it can leave the country."


"Iraq, Country Of National Unity Or Diaspora"


 Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (8/21):  "The probabilities give us hope that wars have made Iraqis mature....  The deliberate destruction carried out by terrorists and the demonstrations in Kirkuk, calling for making it for all sects, give us a reason that Iraq has the competence to exit from the crises....  Iraq for all Iraqis should be more successful than divided states.  The U.S. should realize that if it favors one party then it is fixing its policies rather than changing its interests.


IRAQ:  "Achievement And Victory"

Al-Bayyan (8/29) (affiliated with the Islamic A-Da'wa Party led by Al-Ja'afari) declared:  "Yesterday, the Iraqi people felt pleased about the endorsement of the draft constitution.  This ratification came after three days of discussions and meetings to solve all pending issues.  After that, we are now waiting for referendum day... All the political parties and blocs in the National Assembly have made concerted efforts to ensure that all Iraqi sects participated in the constitutional process.  They gave those who boycotted elections a chance to participate in this process for the sake of drafting a united constitution.  However, some groups tried to impose their conditions at the expenses of others and this has led to a delay in settling pending issues.  It was possible to solve these issues through voting in the National Assembly yet the parliamentary blocs ignored that option and preferred negotiating in a way that satisfied all groups... We think that the endorsement of the draft constitution is a significant achievement and victory for the Iraqi people because this constitution was drafted by Iraqis and ratified by the peoples' representatives.  This represents a victory because it is a big strike against the terrorists.  This victory has reinforced the political process and moved Iraq forward on a new historic stage."

"The Draft Constitution At The National Assembly"

Independent Ad-Dustoor (8/29) carried an editorial by Bassim:  “The national assembly approved the completed draft of the permanent constitution yesterday with reservations of the fifteen Sunni members.  After the approval of the draft, they started to debate and negotiate and will continue until the upcoming referendum on October 15, 2005, when Iraqis will take responsibility and make a final decision.  Voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ all Iraqi sects will engage in the decisive moment to move their country to a bright new future.  All those who criticize the viewpoints and reservations between political leaders and constitution drafting members are wrong, this is how Iraqis should discuss and decide their future-through democracy and freedom.  Now we can express our opinions and thoughts and we can reject and discuss things freely.  All political leaders should work on behalf of the Iraqi national compact, not to gain private benefits.  We are working hard to make this political process succeed and to defeat those who tried their best to terminate Iraqi dreams.  The final outcome will be decided by good Iraqis who sacrifice themselves for the freedom of their country.  Now that the draft constitution is complete (from the legislative angle) we will move to the public referendum stage to get real and final and approval for Iraq's new permanent constitution."

"The Announcement Of A Distinguished Day In Iraq"

Sa'ad Badr Khan opined in Al-Ta’akhi (affiliated with the Kurdistani Democratic Party led Masood Barazani) (8/29):  “Yesterday, the Iraqi draft constitution was finally announced.  Thus, Iraq approaches another step forward in the constitutional process--after this the draft is to be approved by the Iraqi people...  The constitution is the most dangerous document in a society.  It's a document that organizes relationships between rulers and the people and it outlines the main authorities within the community.  Unfortunately, Iraq has gone decades without having a constitution because the dictator Saddam considered it merely a piece of paper that could be ripped up at anytime.  That is how Saddam governed the country without a constitution.  The Kurdish people have struggled for the sake of establishing democracy in Iraq and to guarantee their legitimate rights.  Therefore, the Kurds want an Iraqi constitution that can guarantee and safeguard Kurdish rights as a legitimate segment of people in Iraq….  Without a doubt, the drafting of the constitution was a very difficult task and it would not have been accomplished without the bone fide efforts of patriotic politicians.  The Kurdish leadership has played a big role in making this draft successful through opening the door to dialogue among different Iraqi groups.  We are excited about the accomplishment of the draft constitution but at the same time, we must remember that the Kurds have approved this constitution despite the fact that it does not completely satisfy Kurdish ambitions….  The Kurds have the right to self-determination.  Although there are some issues (such as the status of Kirkuk) that remain to be solved we will never give up our demands.  We hope that all Iraqis will approve the draft constitution so that they can live new lives based on democracy and justice.  The 28th of August will always be a historic day in Iraq's history."

"Iraq Before And After The Constitution"

Independent, anti-coalition Az-Zaman (8/29) carried an editorial by Jassem Murad:  “Will the constitution stabilize the security, political, economic and humanitarian situation in Iraq?  In fact, all political parties bet on the elections and said that these elections would bring peace and stability back to this country.  Those elections were successfully held in spite of terrorists' plans that attempted to thwart them.  However, those elections could not stabilize the situation in Iraq.  The situation has actually worsened and the post election period led to a plurality of political parties scattered on the Iraqi map….  If this is the post election period, then how can we imagine what will happen after the constitution's ratification?  Can this constitution solve our crises?  We could say yes if there were a national Iraqi leadership that could move Iraq forward and away from sectarianism but the reality shows that the constitution cannot solve our crises because we have to understand these crises open-mindedly and transparently.  We have to reinforce the notion of national dialogue to isolate terrorists from those who want to participate in the political process.  In addition, we must work hard to improve public services and start reconstruction projects to end unemployment in Iraq. And we have to make citizens feel they are protected by the government.  By accomplishing these conditions, the post constitutional period may witness a historic move in our lives.  Otherwise, crises will not be solved and they will continue until they make people explode against the government."

"About The Endorsement Of The Draft Constitution"

Ismael Zayyer commented in independent As-Sabah Al-Jadeed (8/29):  “Iraqis deserve to celebrate the completion of their permanent draft constitution, a good initiative for Iraqis to open closed doors.  Iraqis reached a final accord after hard and peaceful efforts and dialogue among all political groups to reach a final agreement freely and with no air of injustice.  We may have different points of view and opinions but we are all a unified nation, a land and country with one significant Iraqi soul throughout.  We agree with all those who have their own ideas and views concerning the constitution, they have a right to express their choices the way they want through the media.  Today we celebrate our success, but we should be aware that this is the first step in the democratic process, and we must work hard and prepare for the next step--the upcoming referendum on the draft constitution.  If Iraqis accept or reject the draft constitution freely in the upcoming referendum process we must respect that.  What is more important is that we have a truly free and fair referendum with polling boxes far removed from Iraq's presidential guards, private guards, and the security and intelligence apparatus because we now have national dialogue and freedom."

"Iraq's Constitution--Theater Of The Absurd"

Salah Omar Al-Ali noted in Iraq 4 All News Website ( (8/29):  “For six months now, the Iraqi National Assembly's theater has been showing a comedy entitled, 'Drafting the Iraqi Constitution.'  And we reveal no secret when we say that all acts were completely prepared in the White House kitchen.  As for the actors, they only have the role of translating these scenes and expressing them through tragic gestures to limits that make you sad and want to cry and through comic gestures that do the same.  Whereas some players support and others reject (they agree and disagree) they all follow one director occupying Iraq's thrown these days--the Occupiers (Ambassador Khalilzad and Negroponte before him).  Many nations took a long time to draft their constitutions, including the United States that needed eight years to complete and approve its constitution, while Germany took seven years after toppling the Nazi regime.  So how can Iraq's constitution be drafted in seven months while it's still under the occupation of the U.S. military, and should we distract people with this issue to divert their attention from the main cause of resisting occupation?  The current constitution completely neglects the country's sovereignty, advocates for sectarian confrontations under the guise of federalism, and threatens unity under the moniker of preserving rights.  Imposing a constitution drafted according to the TAL and devised by the best known Zionist extremist personalities represents the utmost degree of disrespect for Iraqis and Iraq's future generations.  We join our voices with those demanding the rejection of this draft which, if approved, will expose Iraq to great catastrophes.  We call for demonstrations, a collection of signatures to be sent to the U.N., and convening meetings in all Iraqi cities to clarify the dangers resident in this draft proposed by an illegitimate National Assembly."

"Islamists Remove Their Masks--Beware Of The Constitution"

Editorial by Nejah Yousif commented in the Modern Discussion Website( (8/29):  “I wasn't surprised by the vicious campaign launched by supporters of the United Iraqi Alliance against the Communist Party and the Kurdish coalition, after finding itself in an undesirable position due to its failure in providing security, deteriorating services, and administrative corruption, in addition to many assassinations and attacks executed by its militias currently controlling police and military forces which can be clearly seen though sectarian slogans mimicked by these forces on Iraqi satellite channels.  Drafting a constitution is a national responsibility that should not overlook any of the population's components nor hinder half of the society through Islamic laws.  The current 'revised' draft constitution reflects the ambitions and desires of religious clerics to take over and reach the state of clerical ruling currently found in Iran.  This draft is worse than the first constitution in Iraq's history.  The stinking stench of sectarianism is obvious and its consequences will be inflicted on the suffering masses.  What makes things worse is that the election boycotters, or those who are truly former regime elements, have rejected the draft for proposing Islam as a main source of legislation and not the main source of legislation.  In addition to opposing federalism and the eradication of the Ba'ath Party they want to return to square one and rehabilitate their fascist party members so they may re-enter the political process and take over power again.  On the other hand, the U.S. seems to be confused about its policy in Iraq, allowing Islamists to impose their Islamic constitution over a multi religious and intellectually diverse Iraqi society.  The U.S. promoted this constitution describing it as a democratic example that would encourage the region's people, but what seems to me and others is that it neither encourages Iraqis nor the region's people, and if allowed to continue it will yield an ineffectual and decrepit constitution.  And to complete the picture, the attack against secular and democratic powers should start now.  Where today's fascists have learned from those of yesterday, and have followed the concept of divide and conquer by assuring Kurds of federalism (until they were able to gain endless rights for the Shiite clergy and their take over of the police and army forces) and circulating rumors about communists and their struggles to distort their image and prevent any secular and democratic visions.  Iraqis have shown patience and endured crises and bloody wars to be able to live in a society of justice and equality, without sectarian divisions where women remain threatened by the authority and dominance of men.  The only thing I can do in the face of the enemies of democracy is to vote 'No' over the constitution."

"The Constitution Between Compromise And Veto"

Adil Al-Rubai'ee editorialized in Dar al-Iraqiya (The Iraqi House) Website ( (8/29):  “All civilized countries throughout the world have had their democratic and constitutional experiments which developed over decades or even hundreds of years before evolving into their current forms guaranteeing stability and prosperity for their citizens and promoting the peaceful transfer of authority through democratic principles based on competition among political parties and power through ballot boxes.  Although a lot of these experiments are similar in their outlines, concerning the general principles of political life, we can't ignore that each experiment is unique due to political and constitutional changes.  And whoever reads the political and constitutional history of these countries will find that constitutions were developed and integrated over time in ways that match peoples' hopes and open new horizons.  Our draft constitution and all of the hot debates around it is a base for the new Iraq and not a future frozen in a destiny that can't be changed or modified--especially if we know that people have the final word.  The important thing is that sticking issues should be settled according to national interests and not to use compromises to impose minority vetoes on the majority because that won't serve the political process or the national interest."

"Ba'athism And The Legitimacy Of The Constitution"

Abdul Baqi Faraj opined in Wattan 4 All (A Country for All) News Website ( (8/29):  “This constitution lacks legitimacy--this is what a man who landed on a podium coming from another time announced!  He was a man without a mustache and long beard who put a white turban on his head, who wore a flowing white garment with a black short cloak on his shoulders.  I thought for awhile that he was one of Sahaba (Prophet's friends) or one who was carrying his sword though he didn't have one.  You could give this individual, from another world, several names!  He resembles Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Zarqawi, Qatar's Foreign Minister, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Bashar Al'Assad, Qdaf al-Dam and numerable others of death and darkness.  But he is comrade Sheikh Abdul Nasir Al-Janabi who came forward this morning to announce Iraq's constitution for which Iraqi people will cast their votes on October 15th.  'This constitution lacks legitimacy' because it wasn't written on a basis of compromise!  With whom and how could compromise be achieved?  Abdul Nasir's comrades announced....  The constitution should be written in a compromise with them!  What they intend to do is to re-legitimize respect for the Nazi Ba'ath Party.  Apart from being, you either agree or disagree with the draft Iraqi constitution because its articles were written by people with clerical minds.  This is the political reality and this is the power balance.  You should listen to the peoples' opinion even if you disagree with those who wrote the constitution and with majority opinion which is not always right!  You should then listen on October 15th for two letters or more when people say 'Yes' or 'No.' "

"The Constitution Is The Fruit Of The Political Process"  


Independent As-Sabah al-Jadeed editorialized (8/28):  "After the downfall of the dictatorial regime, freedom rose like the sun in Iraq and the country began to move forward towards security, advancement, and prosperity.  Today, the Iraqi people have to play a big role to make this process successful.  All Iraqis, whether they agree or disagree with the current political process, need to work towards Iraq's national interest.  The Iraqi people challenged and crushed terror when they headed for the ballot boxes during the elections on the 30th of January....  Now, it is time to complete this process by drafting a constitution for this country and its people.  It is time for Iraqis to now harvest the fruits they have been waiting for.  They will not be affected by terror as long as the constitution will open the door to hope and progress.  The development of the political process means that we are defeating terror in Iraq.  So, we call on all Iraqis to bring their containers to collect the fruits of the political process."


"The Constitution--Between Harmony And Veto"


Adel Al-Rubai'ee opined in Islamic Dawa Party-affiliated Al-Bayyan (8/28):  "All civilized countries have their own democratic and constitutional experiments that were developed over years before reaching their final forms and many countries' experiments are similar.  However, establishing democratic communities does not come from nothing but is developed through years of political work and effort.  Indeed, the constitutions of other countries have taken years to develop....  Concerning our draft constitution, I believe that current disagreements and disputes amongst Iraqi politicians in the National Assembly represent a healthy debate to build a new Iraq.  The Iraqi people will have their final say about the constitution during the referendum.  But, the most important matter now is to solve all pending issues in accordance with national interests.  These issues must not be resolved according to a minority veto at the expenses of the majority because this does not benefit the political process or national interests."


"Our Iraqi Efforts And Our Kurdish Hopes"


Sa'ad Badr Khan wrote on the front page of KDP-affiliated (Barzani) Al-Ta'akhi (8/28):  "The Iraqi constitution is being drafted amid disputes, disagreements, and harmony amongst Iraqi politicians.  This represents the proper way to reach the goal that is to make the constitutional process successful.  This constitution can make Iraq's two main nationalities, Arabs and Kurds, in addition to other sects, feel they are real Iraqi citizens.  The Kurdish list insists on defending Iraq as one country and at the same time it defends Kurdish rights through this constitution.  When the Kurds insist on not making Iraq an Islamic republic this means that they want to build a modern state for all Iraqis.  When the Kurds demand women's rights they call for guaranteeing all Iraqi women's rights without discrimination....  The Kurds believe in democracy and in a new Iraq and they also think that it is necessary to install federalism throughout Iraq.  We know that federalism is an optional choice that has its own justifications.  These are the Kurdish orientations that represent purely Iraqi viewpoints.  The Kurdish attitude was characterized with transparency and insistence on making all Iraqis participate in the current constitutional process.  The Kurds have played a vital role in encouraging dialogue about the constitution....  The upcoming stage following the referendum will be more dangerous and sensitive.  The next period requires more wisdom, attention, accuracy, and objectivity to make the referendum successful and to pass the constitution's articles.  This is the main goal of any honest Iraqi."


"We Are Waiting For The Good News"  


Bassim Al-Sheikh stated in Independent Ad-Dustoor (8/28):  "We are expecting the National Assembly to approve the draft constitution today by two-thirds of its members.  A promotional campaign will begin to educate Iraqis about the basics and principals of the constitution, in spite of those who are working against Iraq's unity and trying to create crisis and sectarianism among Iraqi sects; those who are singing for civil war and division will never relent in their mischievous plots against Iraq....  The draft constitution was submitted to the National Assembly by the deadline of the first extension and now members are having discussions and making amendments to the last draft to vote for final approval.  Hence, everyone should be aware today that there is no way to go back--the political process should move forward and we should all work together to help it succeed.  We should all work for the benefits of our Iraq and work against our enemies' will and make this day a day of good news."


"Harmonious Agreement Is A Healthy Sign In The March Toward Democracy"


Abdul Hadi Mahdi observed in Pro-Coalition, PUK-affiliated, Al-Ittihad (8/28):  "The structure of Iraqi society is considered complicated compared to other societies.  Iraqi society consists of pluralistic nationalities and a diversity of religions and sects that have uniqueness that must be respected....  Despite all that, Iraq's society seems to be more united than other societies which lack such diversity.  Therefore, this must be considered during the drafting of the constitution....  Harmonious agreement is considered a healthy sign in the democratic march, because Iraq's foundation cannot withstand a certain group imposing its will on others.  The time of marginalizing others has gone; all Iraqis must assert their political and national rights and this cannot happen without a permanent constitution drafted through harmony.  Today, Iraqis hope to reach harmony through their political leaders' announcement of a final draft for the permanent constitution."


"The Constitution And Political Memory"


Falah Al-Mish'al opined in independent Al-Sabah (8/28):  "An observer of the constitutional committee's work can find some relevance in the political memories of committee and TNA members.  Those members recall their disasters and sacrifices while they are drafting the constitution phrase by phrase.  The majority of TNA members are Shiites and Kurds and they share joint obsessions, due to their suffering under the former regime.  Therefore, you can find their demands in line with their political memories....  The Sunnis are against the others because they represent the ruling class in Iraq from the establishment of the Iraqi state in 1921 until Saddam's toppling in 2003.  Therefore, they act with a ruler's logic and not that of one who has been ruled.  And their political memory functions in the past more than it does in the future....  The question is: will the draft constitution define Ba'athist ideology as a terrorist one that propagated real criminal activity, started wars, and triumphed in the comprehensive destruction throughout Iraq because of Saddam's policies?  This trail of destruction will require more than decades in order to be forgotten.  It is etched in the memories and the spirit of Iraq more than merely being mentioned in a document made of paper." 


“Committed Period”

Dawa Party-affiliated Al-Bayyan (8/25) published an editorial by Zainab Al-Khafaji:  "The National Dialogue Council’s position concerning the draft constitution may prevent it from wide participation in the constitutional process.  Initially the draft of the constitution was drawn up following an accord that was reached by the majority of Iraqi political parties that ostensibly represent the people.  Therefore, these discussions cannot be described as based on ethnic power sharing because discussions on the constitution led to an agreement amongst politicians.… The recent dispute on pending issues does not represent a refusal of the draft constitution but it is a good chance for political parties and blocs to end their disagreements.  I think that these disagreements are insignificant if we compare them to the issue of the Ba’ath Party's destiny in Iraq and the distribution of powers.… The National Dialogue Council must understand that it has to reconsider its attitude especially after the Kurdish coalition and the United Iraqi Alliance agreed to postpone ratification of the constitution in order to grant them more time to settle pending issues.  Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Ja’afari said that this resolution is necessary and that every thing must be resolved within three days because the current period is a decisive and sensitive one.  Otherwise, the National Dialogue Council will squander a big opportunity to actively participate in the upcoming constitutional process."


“The Overwhelming Majority”


Independent, anti-coalition Al-Fourat (8/25) carried an editorial by Majed Fadhel Al-Zaboon:  "The technical process for the upcoming referendum still remains unclear.  The majority of Iraqis say they are unaware of the voting procedures, which is the responsibility of the Iraqi electoral commission!....  Some of the voters think that the electoral process involves a simple 'yes’ or ‘no’ on the draft constitution; such a procedure would deprive Iraqis the right to explain their opinions about good and bad principles and the basics of the draft constitution.  The Iraqi electoral commission should not render the referendum process a generic one because Iraqis must express private opinions about their new constitution....  If this process is difficult to achieve, the referendum process should include disagreement points, this is the way our new constitution will gain legitimacy.  An accepted compromise to satisfy all Iraqi sects should be designed to enable us to rebuild and to succeed in our political and democratic process without any marginalization or neglect for any Iraqi sects.  This will be the way we can reach our national compact and independence and force the occupation forces to leave our country....  The upcoming constitutional referendum should include all Iraqi sects (specifically the opposition) because some of the constitution articles should be removed and others affirmed.  The majority of Iraqis should decide to accept the draft constitution, not the minority.  And everyone must participate in the upcoming referendum process to decide for Iraq."


“A Kurdish Vision For The Iraqi Constitution”


KDP affiliated (Barzani) Al-Taakhi (8/25) published a front-page editorial by Editor-in-Chief, Badr Khan Al-Sindi on Kurdish views of the constitution:  "The Kurdish Parliament has approved and supported the draft constitution.  President Barazani said that this draft is a great achievement (especially during this period) despite the inclusion of some items that do not coincide with Kurdish ambitions.  Kurdish support comes as a reply to those who want to blame the Kurds for attempting to obstruct the genesis of the Iraqi constitution....  For the second time, the Kurds have proved that they are committed to the main principles, which were agreed upon with various political parties at points earlier.  The Kurds want to make this constitution successful and they’ve placed emphasis on the principles of reconciliation and the wide participation of all Iraqi sects.  However, we must not cede our legitimate national interests, ambitions, and right to decide our destiny.  We think that the current draft constitution will strengthen the federalist experiment in Iraq in a way that reinforces unity without the marginalization of any other sect....  This is a new Iraq, which must be based on equal distribution of resources apart from the control of the central government that devastated the country.  We do not think that the current constitution satisfies Kurdish desires.  However, we see that there are some chauvinistic and dictatorial mentalities trying to impart the constitution with tyrannical ideals.  Everyone must understand that Iraq is moving forward and the federal solution is the best way to solve all problems.  As we approach the referendum, we hope that Iraq will enjoy peace, economic prosperity, and deep democratic awareness.  We hope this awareness will not surprise Iraqis one day when they hear that the Kurds want to decide their own destiny."             


“Devils Of The Constitution”


Anti-coalition Az-Zaman (8/25) carried an editorial by Jihad Zayyer:  "Today Iraqi politicians, most of whom lack real political professionalism and sufficient experience, will discuss the draft constitution in the national assembly.  At the same time, Iraqis will, and perhaps negatively, deal with the items of this constitution because they want to know the results of politicians' disagreements over pending issues....  Iraqis have the right to know the details and implications of the constitution's articles, which will govern their lives.  We know that the majority of Iraqis, who for instance harbor anti-federalist attitudes, lack information on governmental structure especially in countries that have ethnic diversity.  Hence, they have the right to be suspicious of current Iraqi politicians because they do not know what the Iraqi people need.  Current political parties are still distant from the people and these parties are ignorant about people's intentions and orientations.  Current Iraqi politicians speak about federalism, the role of religion in government, and the equitable distribution of natural resources.  On the other hand, the government's offices are filled with corruption....  These politicians want to occupy Iraqi minds with complicated political concepts.  But, how can a nation that was marginalized from real political participation understand concepts that may contain devils and disasters?  Modern concepts and the sound policies of politicians alone cannot help Iraqis reveal the true intentions of these politicians."


“The Favorable Disagreement”


Bassem Al-Sheikh editorialized in independent Ad-Dustoor (8/25):  "The Sunni rejection of the draft constitution submitted to the national assembly is a healthy reaction; they initiated publicity campaigns to encourage ‘no votes’ in the upcoming referendum.  Disagreements and different points of view are normal in life and dealing with such issues should be done in a civilized way; democracy means different points of view and more importantly how much influence one can wield....  Therefore, the responsibility of those who reject the constitution is to create an influential opposition and enough supporters to back that opinion and then to have the influence to change and rule the political process.  The technical processes are good because it keeps the process within the safety margins; public oversights, international political scrutiny, and the media have all witnessed the birth of the new constitution....  Now parliamentary members have legitimate authority to discuss every single article in the constitution.  They will not permit a premature constitution to pass and even if they did, the majority of Iraqis will say no in the upcoming referendum.  This is the Iraqi will and public influence in the democratic process.  The Sunni powers which are protesting through conservatives on the draft constitution committee decided that the upcoming referendum will be their way to say no to a constitution that does not include all their rights and demands."

“Money, Power, and the Constitution”


Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed opined in Asharq al-Awsat (8/25):  "There are several points of the disagreements inside the TNA that postponed the agreement on the constitution....  Sunnis made a mistake last year by boycotting the election and are paying for it now.  Realizing the scope of this mistake, suddenly their leaders are now calling for participation in the political process.  Today, the Shiites and the Kurds would be making a grave mistake if they did not grant the Sunnis guarantees in the constitution.  Without the Sunnis, the large, powerful state of Iraq will turn into a number of weak small states....  It is surprising that the constitutional disagreement has become Shiite-Sunnis or Arab-Kurds.  The deepest disagreements are within each team, not among teams.  The real disagreement is between the Islamists and the secularists, within both Sunni and Shiite communities.  It will deepen in the future, because the constitution is not dealing with the fundamental issues.”


“Who Wants To Divide Iraq?”


SCIRI affiliated Al-Adala (8/25) carried an editorial by Zuhair Al-Baghdadi on federalism:  "No one has the right to accuse any Iraqi of not being patriotic, because each one of us has his own position about the correct path toward a new nation.  We are Iraqis before anything else.  The argument now is about federalism and its implementation in the new Iraq.  On one side, they believe that federalism means the division of Iraq into small separated states, weak and easily swallowed by neighboring countries.  As such, it is bad and all Iraqis must reject it.  On the other hand, there are those who believe that it will not result in weakness and division, Iraq will become like other federal countries that have one border, one constitution, one flag and one identity....  Tthe people will determine whether accept it or not, they will express their opinion through the referendum on the constitution.  People, not political factions will determine our destiny.  Let us stop talking under a particular sect or nationality, we are all Iraqis....  Some say that the Kurds should have the right to implement the federalism, but that the Arabs in the southern or the central areas should not, claming that Iran or the Gulf States will interfere.  This is unacceptable.  One can not claim the right of federalism for one part of Iraq and not accept it for another.  Federalism is the fair distribution of resources, it will speed up the reconstruction, and create job opportunities.  Furthermore, it will establish security and stability, by granting greater authority for the districts and provinces.”  


“The Iraqi Constitution . . . The Downfall Of The U.S. Reform Project”


Fehed Al-Naser opined in the Modern Discussion Web-Site,(>) (8/25):  "The American President George Bush expressed great joy on the occasion of completing the Iraqi draft constitution.  His happiness also reflects an admission that the American Middle East project for political reform, the termination of tyrannical regimes, of granting freedoms, setting up democracies, and acknowledging human rights has faced a severe setback.  We will all realize that the broad hopes of the United States government’s promotion of the era of freedom and human rights in Iraq is facing a crisis as soon as we take the first look at the Iraqi draft constitution....  The announced draft constitution was nothing more than a bomb project.  It is a warning of complicated political affairs full of ethnic and sectarian wars with uncalculated consequences.  It was written to serve the interests of particular sides and they are explicitly expressing their ethnic and sectarian ambitions.  By placing the name of Saddam and his fascist party in the draft’s introduction, these sides are sending out a message to Iraqis that they should accept this document in return for their salvation from the former dictatorship’s suppression....  The Iraqi constitution, if approved, will be a very harsh lesson for the administration of the United States.  It will witness its visions of modern personal and civil freedoms being replaced by the rights of sects, ethnicities, and tribes.  It is a document that recognizes human beings by their ethnic and sectarian backgrounds and not by accomplishments, ideas, and participation in building society....  We can forget about our hopes for our state being ruled by law.   We need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that our state will be ruled by ethnic and sectarian authorities and aging tribal traditions that deform our societal relations, and create huge obstacles for freedom of political and intellectual activities....  Anyone who wants a free and prosperous future for Iraq should say no to this constitution.” 


“A Hasty Constitution....  A Disgrace For A Great Nation”


Sameer Ubaid commented in Iraq 4 All News Web-Site, (<>) (8/25):  "The issue will not withstand further debate, compliments, or hiding, you either vote in favor of President Bush, Tel-Aviv, and Tehran’s constitution, or you reject in favor of a united Iraq.  The current constitution is similar to a United States fast food meal and it isn’t worthy of respect.  It is suitable for the era of occupation, where the administrative law was considered a Qu’ran coming down from the Israeli Noah Fieldman, with prophets named Bush junior, Bremmer, Negroponte, Khalilzad, and Satterfield....  The new, hastily drafted constitution; written according to President Bush’s orders, and under the supervision of Khalilzad and Satterfield, failed to meet Iraqis’ ambitions even by five percent.  It only met some of the Kurds’ ambitions for separation, but at the expense of Arabic Iraqi people....  We can summarize the constitution by saying it pleased the Kurds, displeased Shiites, and wasted Sunnis....  Provided the document, drafted in a purely Zionist manner was approved, the south will belong to the Iranians and those supporting them, the north will go to the Kurdish elite, while the west will become another Somalia with no resources and a very fragile economy.  From an American point of view, Iraq is a candidate to become the new Chechnya by attracting extremists....  What took place during the constitutional discussions was nothing more than an American stage play.  Because the constitution was drafted before the war on Iraq; today’s discussions are only part of the play performed to the world....  For the first time in history, a foreign Ambassador (Khalilzad) and his assistant (Satterfield), played the role of monitor and inspector for an independent nation’s constitution....  Has there ever been a situation where a nation’s constitution was drafted within days and submitted to Parliament eight minutes before deadline?  Won’t this movie of fantasy and disrespect ever come to an end in Iraq?  And who will tell Khalilzad and Satterfield that enough is enough?....  There should be an uprising of the people to drive the occupation forces out of our country.  They should also fire the failed politicians, and call for Iraq to be left to honorable Iraqis from all backgrounds who know how to put together the best political, government, and constitutional combination....  At the end...those who wish to vote in favor of such a constitution, please send a greeting to the Zionists, and present Iraq to Iran on a golden plate.”


“Iraqi Draft Constitution....  And The Incomplete Birth”


Hamza Al-Shamkh commented in Al-Badeal Al-Democrati (The Democratic Alternative) Web-Site, (<>) (8/25):  "Many politicians are making statements to local and foreign media outlets about the absence of deep differences that could prevent the completion of the Iraqi constitution draft on time....  But unfortunately, these statements don’t reflect what is actually going on.  There are many differences and disagreements among the different components of the Iraqi people.  This is quite natural taking into consideration the variety of religions, doctrines, ethnicities, and political parties that are involved....  Unfortunately, it wasn’t finished.  This was due to the unresolved differences between the participants.  So, they agreed upon another three-day extension....  Postponements and extensions are useless if the parties involved refuse to compromise....  Everyone should have the unity of Iraq and its people as their primary goal.  This should not be done by media statements, but by having the courage and the resolve to come to an agreement.  This agreement needs to be something that keeps the entire sectarian, political, and intellectual trends on the front burner.  Without this agreement the draft constitution will not see the light of day, nor will it be submitted to a referendum by mid-October....  So we have the right to ask all concerned parties, will these three days witness a miracle and will you present a final draft to the National Assembly.  Or will we witness another round of struggles that take us back to square one.”


“The Suggested Constitution and the Challenges”


Yousif Fadhil,opined in (8/25):  "I smiled as I watched the scenes of joy coming from all over Iraq when the draft constitution was finished.  Then I read draft constitution and heard the plans of the Sunni faction and Sadr movement and saw the demonstrations in Kirkuk and other regions.  I went to the Iraqi websites and read the statements from American president George Bush and other American politicians talking about the possibility of dividing Iraq into three small states!....  I then asked myself what stance should I take on this constitution?   I have seen Kurds place demands on the constitution.  I have heard the Shiites concerns addressed and province’s demands for the fair distribution of the oil wealth and a non-centralized rule met....  But our concerns will remain as long as the intensions of the political parties are not good.  Is there a way to overcome bad intentions?  This is the biggest challenge Iraq will face.  Iraq’s progress and prosperity will depend on good intension and good intensions are the sole guarantee for our economic and political unity....  I’m an Arab and I suppose I have rights so why do I consider them a gift?  These rights that the Kurds, the Turkmen, the Persians, and the Keldo-Assyrians enjoy are a natural and civilized part of what it means to be an Iraqi.  Yes they are all included in the constitution however practical implementation takes time.  The people need to be educated about these rights in order to have them be shaped in the community.  If we can achieve this then we have succeed in writing our constitution....  Writing a constitution isn’t hard, it is the implementation of its principles that is difficult to do.  Iraq had a permanent constitution but our leaders paid no attention to it.  The peak of these violations took place under Saddam Hussein’s rule.  As I said before if federalism or non-central rule doesn’t include good intentions with the correct implementation all of this effort will not achieve anything....  It’s worth mentioning that there is still a chance to change the constitution if we find any problems in it.”


"The Second Step"


Salim Rasool wrote in Islamic Dawa Party-affiliated (Ja'afari) Al-Bayyan (8/24):  "At last, the newborn constitution has been submitted to the national assembly to give assembly members a chance to have a look at it.  The next step is to find out what the Iraqi people think of the new constitution....  This constitution was not easy to draft.  Indeed, it made the Iraqi politicians work very hard and discuss difficult issues in order to draft a constitution that guarantees the rights of all Iraqis....  The Iraqi politicians were able to submit the constitution draft before the second deadline.  Nobody thought that the constitution would be submitted on time due to the continuous disagreements among the politicians.  However, the Iraqi government proved that they are responsible and that they can reach an agreement despite the fact that their members come from different religions, ethnicities and nationalities....  The Iraqi leaders are moving forward wisely to continue the political process.  I am optimistic about the next step, which is the National Assembly's endorsement of the constitution draft.  After that, the Iraqi people will have their final word during the referendum."


"Federalism Is The Decision Of Our Free Will"


Badr Khan Al-Sindi commented KDP-affiliated (Barzani) Al-Ta'akhi (8/24):  "Those who oppose federalism in Iraq are either ignorant about the true meaning of federalism or they have a nationalistic, or religious desire control others.  So, it is not very surprising that there have been objections to the idea of establishing federalist territories....  In fact federalism is somewhat of a strange concept for the majority of Iraqis.  This is due to the media coverage of the concept.  The Iraqi media has been responsible for educating people about federalism.  It does not seem that they have done a good job.  Today, the majority of Iraqis, even those who support federalism, do not know that half of the world's countries live under federal regimes.  The Iraqi people do not know that we are not the first country who called for the establishment of federalism....  In addition, many of those who oppose federalism do not want to admit that federalism means unity and it does not mean separation.  Iraq has suffered for more than 80 years since the establishment of the first Iraqi state.  It was formed according to a British plan.  However, that plan proved to be unsuccessful.  Iraq has experienced disasters, starvation, wars and tyranny in the south.  We all know that the Kurds and the Arabs are brothers in this country.  But, we must not forget that Iraq is made up of two main nations and the Kurds have the right to decide their own future....  Without a doubt, those who oppose federalism are the same people who condemn dictatorship.  Actually, some of them suffered from that dictatorship.  We must accept that here in Iraq centralized governments are ripe for dictatorships.  Federalism is the only way that can prevent the creation of another dictatorship in Iraq.  Removal of a dictator does not mean that the Kurdish people are ready to receive a new dictator in the name of nationalism or religion....  It is very important to include federalism in the constitution because the Kurds and the Arabs who support this option want to establish it in the new Iraq.  Federalism is the best way to defend the new Iraq and we think that federalism reflects our free will."


"Pending Issues"


Ali Khalif asserted in SCIRI-affiliated Al-Adala (8/24):  "The issue of federalism in the territories cannot be described as separation because all Iraqi political groups call for Iraq's unity.  In addition, the United Iraqi Alliance has demanded to give every province the right to establish one or more territories.  Furthermore, any territory can be merged with other territories.  Does this sound like separation?  This system will unite Iraq according to the will of the territories.  If those who oppose federalism want to unite Iraq, why don't they establish their own federal territories and demand to be merged with the south or the north in an attempt to unite the country?...  Why do they want to omit from the Constitution the article that speaks about the Ba'ath party?  We want to mention the Ba'ath party in order to remind people with its crimes....  Concerning the distribution of natural resources; if we want to be selfish we would make the United Iraqi Alliance the big loser.  But, we wanted to fairly distribute the revenue among all Iraqis.  However, the Iraqi people are waiting for the referendum in order to give their final opinion on the merits of the constitution."


"The Solution Is To Dissolve The National Assembly"


Fateh Abdul Salam contended in independent, anti-Coalition Az-Zaman (8/24):  "It would be no big sacrifice to dissolve the National Assembly and admit the failure of the drafting committee.   This would ensure safety for the Iraqi people while they are witnessing the failure of all of their hopes....  The best choice is to dissolve the TNA, because they won't be able to resolve the issues that plague the draft Constitution....  Therefore, The TNA is the best sacrifice, because it is already a temporary entity...full of problems.  The TNA was established under exceptional circumstances and the Iraqis will not feel sorry for dissolving it.  This political body has not benefited the Iraqis at all.  However, they have learned a good lesson for the upcoming elections.  They have learned to keep their eyes wide open at the ballot boxes in the future....  So, feel the comfort of dissolving the TNA and stop trying to build this heavy Constitution on such a weak base, because it will collapse in the end."       


"The Uncovered Lie"


Al-Basaer an anti-Coalition weekly affiliated with the Association of Muslim Scholars, editorialized (8/24):  "It is a bad situation for any nation when its leader becomes a liar and does not fulfill his promises.....  We were looking forward to forgetting about this phenomenon of a liar leader.  Unfortunately, the phenomenon has gotten bigger than it was before because now we have more than one leader.  Sometimes the leaders get along and sometimes they are looking out for their own interests.  No matter what, each of those leaders acts as though he is the main leader of our people.  He assures us that he is taking care of the nation's interests better than anyone else....  Those leaders talk about the constitution in the name of Iraq and they act like unity is the most important thing in the world to them.  However, every time those leaders get together they behave in the best interests of their own sect or party and not in the best interest of Iraq....  Some of them claim that Iraqis are drafting the constitution without any external pressure.  Not even American pressure.  However, we did see the U.S. Ambassador attending sessions of the TNA.  The government continues to put out statements that are full of lies.  They promise, but they do nothing."


"Constitution Draft Is A Compromise"


Bassem Al-Sheikh opined in Independent Al-Dustoor (8/24):  "Everyone admired the flexibility of the political forces during the negotiations over the permanent constitution.  The political leaders were able to complete the draft despite the short amount of time they had to achieve this victory and the stress involved....  Iraq is anxiously awaiting the results of the National Assembly's vote process.   They are watching to see how they resolve several pending issues between the cross-sections of different political forces....  The Sunni representatives still claim that they are being ignored and marginalized by the powerful parties in the Constitution Draft Committee.  I think this is to be expected because the previous electoral process allowed those political parties to dominate the political process.  However, the committee members were very eager to consider the minority opinions and allow those opinions into the constitution draft.  They also took the time to consider all disagreement points and reach a compromise among all the political elements involved.  They did this because this path benefited all Iraqis. The submitted constitution draft is a document that was achieved through compromise.  The Iraqi politicians did this to secure safety for all Iraqis.


"Our Constitution Is Between Our Hands"


Falah Al-Mish'al wrote in independent As-Sabah Newspaper (8/23):  "Once again Iraqis have succeed in securing their political future, by drafting a national constitution that protects the unity and wellbeing of Iraq.  This document favors the people over other sectarian or ethnic allegiances....  This accomplishment not only effects the current political situation in Iraq, it also represents an Iraqi dream.  It is the dream of freedom and civil rights ensured by a permanent constitution.  Iraqis have kept that dreams alive through decades full of struggle....  The document will be available for all Iraqis to read within two months.  The Iraqi people will then vote their opinions just like they did during the last election....  We hope that the same efforts that went into the constitution will be applied to issuing new legislation toward what remains of Saddam's government.  These legislations will suit the new lawful democratic state that is born from Constitution.  Congratulations go out to everyone for this national accomplishment and for each step toward granting the rights of safety and prosperity for our people."


"Central Iraq"


Independent, Anti-Coalition Al-Mashriq (8/23) carried a commentary by Shamil Abdul Qadder:  "There is a confusion about federalism and its relationship to breaking up Iraq into separate parts.  Some Iraqi political groups only consider federalism in relation to the Kurds.  It seems that 80% of the Iraqi population do not accept any kind of federalism.  They consider it a move toward Iraq's destruction....  Today, the Iraqi political groups think that it is necessary to establish a central government with the presence of a Kurdish federal territory....  Some politicians believe that presence of a Kurdish and Arab federal territories will stabilize security in Iraq.  Others think that making each province a federal territory with the presence of a central government will disrupt Iraq's unity.  I believe that if politicians continue to insist upon the establishment of federal territories we will start to see areas similar to Kurdistan such as Basrahstan, Umarahstan and Nasseriyastan....  We all know that the British imperialists tried to cut Iraq off from the rest of the world.  The Kurds are in a mountainous area.  They are like a small Iraq without a shore.  Hence, it is impossible to establish a Kurdish state because the land is no more than hills.  Israel was successful in establishing its own state because it occupied the Mediterranean seashore."


"Why They Are Afraid Of Establishing Federalism In The South Of Iraq?"


Al-Bayyan (Affiliated with the Hezbollah Movement in Iraq) (8/23) editorialized:  "One day, the late Saudi King Fahad was asked why he asked Washington and London to not support the Shi'ites during their uprising in 1991?  He said that he was afraid that the south of Iraq might become a Shi'ite triangle that would extend to all other Arab countries in particular the Gulf States.  This speech reminds us of the current objections to establishing federalism in south of Iraq....  Why do the Iraqi people who live in the south of Iraq suffer from poverty when their areas contain a real wealth?  Why they are they always exposed to tyranny, mass killing, humiliation and marginalization?  We believe in the unity of Iraq.  But, we

would like to know why Kurdistan only has the right to federalism when it appears that no other area has that right....  Some Iraqi groups have started to call us separatist.  They don't remember that we were the first citizens who supported Iraq's unity.  We lived in poverty and suffered tyranny in a wealthy land.  Yet we never stopped supporting Iraq's unity.  We are the real advocates of unity and we will support any initiative that will unite the country, fight terror and end starvation."


"The Constitutional Changing"


Jassem Al-Sagher wrote in Baghdad (8/23) (Affiliated with the Iraqi National Accord headed by Iyad Allawi):  "The new democratic process in Iraq is a unique development for the entire Middle East.  A civilized Iraqi political government will emerge from the referendum and the coming election.  It will be structured according to the principles of equality, harmony, rule of law, and universal participation.  These principles are important for supporting the political process....  Every country needs strong political institutions in order to maintain stability.  Backward countries do not have these institutions....  We are on the right path toward democracy.  We began the journey when we received our sovereignty, and then we established the TAL....  The TAL approves modern democratic principles for Iraq.  These principles include the mechanisms of democracy, such as the establishment of the Ministry for Human Rights.  Compare our civil society to other countries in the region and you will see that we are more advanced.  Our progress is really a civilized jump for our Arab region."   


"The Kurds And The Constitutional Crisis"


Independent, anti-coalition Al-Fourat (8/23) carried an editorial by Hayan Al-Baghdadi:  "After the first gulf war the American government supported the idea of Kurdistan being outside the control of the Iraqi government....  The United States did this in order to make friends in the region.  They wanted a place where they could launch military and intelligence movements in order to topple the former Iraqi government....  During this time the Kurds started to form an independent government with a parliament and a military (Peshmergas).  They were able to do this because they felt that the Americans were protecting them.  They also were free from the centralized authority.  This is how Kurdistan became a semi-independent region.  They are semi-independent because they need financial and political aid.  This is why they are now arguing over Kirkuk....  The Iraqis will never let go of Kirkuk.  Nor will they agree to let the Kurds have it.  It is a Kurdish conspiracy to cut Kirkuk from our unified Iraq for their own special interests.  The question is, will the Kurds succeed in forcing their allies to stand with them against the Iraqi will for unity?  If they do, they will be cursed by history for the rest of time....  We can assure the Iraqis that the rest of the Kurds and its national powers in our northern regions reject any idea of separation from mother Iraq....  Because they know that an independent Kurdistan will be an easy target for their neighbors and there will be no one around to help or save them then."


"Women And The Freedom Of Expression"


Communist, anti-coalition Al-Mada (8/23) carried an editorial by Amina Abdul Aziz:  "By the final deadline for the constitution draft we are all expecting a document that will ensure the rights of all Iraqi men and women....  Since the beginning of this political process there have been demonstrations started in Baghdad from two types of women.  The first type has demanded that women have equality with men while the other type has rejected the idea of women having equality with men....  With full respect to all point views, there is a misunderstanding for the concept of equality.  The misunderstanding about women's rights, duties, and equality between men and women, is due to decades long deprivation from expressing free opinions.  A significant gap occurred in understanding the real meaning of equality, women's freedom, their sacrifices and suffering--for their patience they deserve practical participation in ruling the country, which suits their ambitions and performance....  Equality means full awareness for the important role of women that is ascendant in the new generation, the new future of Iraq....  We should have our rights in being nominated for senior positions in the Iraqi government, to correct what we believe is not right for us and to work toward planning for our new political role in Iraq."


"Frozen Green Zone People"


Hussain Abdul Abbas Al-Wahili wrote in anti-coalition, independent Al-Fourat (8/23):  "I can assure you that the people in the frozen green zone do not know anything about the change of seasons, they do not know that we are now in summer and the heat in Baghdad is at peak temperature.  To prove what I am talking about, they are still wearing suits and jackets with ties; they fasten their jackets and they seem that they are shaking when they appear on TV as if it were still winter.  Are they shaking because they are feeling so cold inside the frozen green zone, or are they shaking in fear?....  Perhaps it's because they are embarrassed since they have no answers to the many crises we are experiencing regarding the lack of water and power....  It's as if electricity divorced all Iraqis.  How a thing named electricity completely abandoned Iraqis is a beautiful old story we can tell our children who gather around the lamp at night; it will begin with, 'once upon a time when we enjoyed that lovely element named electricity;' and it will continue with water and which was something we had in the past and it will go on to something else named security....  These are our fairy tales now, how to apologize to your neighbor when he abuses your rights and how to stay silent when someone occupies your land....  They all live in the green zone.  Iraqi government and national assembly members, the ministers and the coalition, and all other employees working with them and that is why they do not know about Iraqis who live outside the green zone and that is why they are leading us with Transparency and Democracy."


"The Calamity Named The Upcoming Constitution"  


Hady Jallaow Mariy opined inpro-government Al-Dawa (8/23):  "There are three basic political factions asking for demands, insisting on them, and showing their opposition to it....  The first is the Kurds, who dream of a separate province.  The second is the Sunnis who want the opposite of the Kurds.  The last is the Shia who believe in the necessity of finishing the constitution on time; they also have limitations in what they're willing to relinquish.  It's not only politicians who are committed like them, it's the majority of Iraqis who believe in this commitment....  At the same time, some factions are calling for the refusal of certain issues in the constitution, which are related to federalism, because they believe it will divide the country....  The problem is how will Iraqis convince those with intertwined attitudes about the constitution?  Especially since there are wide sectors of the populace still suffering from abuses inflicted by the former regime and it activities....  Parliamentary block leaders are responsible for reaching the final accord, and that can be achieved through concessions.  The results will be in the interests of the Iraqi people because any more postponement or dissolution of the National Assembly will take Iraq back to the first step, and that sequences will reflect negatively on the Iraqi people, which is dangerous....  The Iraqi people are waiting for the results of the upcoming negotiations with anxiety."


"Iraqi Constitution And The Dialogue Of The Deaf"


Jihad Al-Khazin commented in Iraq 4 All News in Arabic (8/23):  "It might be true that the constitutional committee had completed 90% of the draft before its August 15th deadline, but its also true that the remaining 10% is the largest source of disagreement among the three main groups....  In fact, the deliberations have shed light on how deep the differences are among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds.  These differences led the negotiators to give themselves another week for deliberations despite pressure from the United States.  They went into the extension with no practical program for reaching a solution for problems that prevented their agreement in the first place....  The Shiites demand a federal region in the south that would enable them to benefit from its oil resources.  The Kurds in the north also want their own federal region but they oppose the idea of Islam as the main source of legislation....  The 15 Sunni Constitutional Committee members have threatened to withdraw from the process if Shiites and Kurds

continue to insist on these concessions....  The United States has pressured all parties to give up their points and reach an agreement.  Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, expressed disappointment over the postponement after acting as the 72nd member of the committee.  Maybe he was even the first....  Federalism is the first step in the plan to divide Iraq.  The Shiites and Kurds are already talking about the next step, which is autonomy....  It is a real possibility that the failure of this process could lead to a civil war.  That kind of war could already be on the way, even though no one is talking about it yet.  We are suffering from insane terrorism that could not be described as a resistance movement.  It is claiming many lives on daily basis.  While the United States, which put Iraq in these circumstances, is trying to emphasize the positive side of the situation that just doesn't exist."


"Concession Over Self-Determination"


Venus Fa'iq editorialized in Al-Rafidayn Web Site in Arabic (8/23):  "News of Kurdish concessions over the right of self-determination didn't have any shocking impact on my soul....  Since I did speculate that Kurds would end up with nothing....  I would have liked to ask Kurdish officials the question:  When did Kurds have any rights to give up in the first place, and could they give them up without going back to their people?....  I don't know what rights Kurds will have after this concession and after agreeing that Islam should be the main source of legislation--these two points alone are enough to suppress the Kurdish people in a civilized manner right under the world's sight....  We should point out that the American position changed during the night.  Americans, whom Kurds thought were keen on Kurdish rights and were their strongest ally ever, have turned their back on Kurds in favor of Shiites, the neighbors of Iran....  I can't think how any attention could be given towards Kurdish demands anymore, even in Kirkuk, especially after Al-Sistani's fatwa.  I believe Kirkuk will be the next step in the series of concessions and I hope I'm wrong."


"Iraq, Uniqueness Of The Constitutional Battle....  The Uniqueness Of The Iraqi Case"


Ameer Al-Taheri commented in Soat Al-Iraq, The Voice of Iraq in Arabic (8/23):  "Does the national assembly's decision to postpone the discussion of the draft constitution represent a major setback for Iraq that has just been freed from a dictatorship or is it merely a minor event on the road to democracy?....  Failure to meet the constitutional deadline would be considered a drawback for only one reason, it's the first time the Iraqi leadership has failed to fulfill a political obligation on time since the toppling of the previous regime....  Despite the prospect of postponement being seen as a  tactical drawback for Iraqis, it represents a democratic development in an Iraq that was recently freed from decades of dictatorship.  Constitutional committee members stood up to pressures from different factions including Al-Sistani and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq....  The vast majority of Iraqis are content with the manner through which decisions are made, and they're aware that the era where constitutions were imposed by tyrants is gone forever, and that no single group can dictate its will over others, and most importantly they know it's no longer possible to ignore the will of the people....  The discussions around the drafting of the constitution have included Iraqis participating in over 300 conferences enabling 50,000 to express their opinions; in addition to the participation of many unions, women's groups, and human rights organizations."


"Citizenship And Sectarianism:  The Difference Between The Sunni And Shiite



Ali Al-Shlah editorialized in (Iraqi Press Website in Arabic - (8/22):  "Iraq is ruled by one sect which nobody used to talk about.  Now sectarianism is a familiar topic of conversation, since the government is comprised of Iraqi people from all spectrums!....  Which group committee members identify with or not, as well as their qualifications, have become main concerns for Iraqis because it is a hot Iraqi and international Arab issue.  This point was taken to such extremes that when Secretary of State Rice visited Iraq and demanded that the Prime Minister guarantee a larger role for Sunnis in drafting the constitution, nobody claimed that this was ethnic power sharing.  But it seems that this topic only comes up when the government is faced with the necessity of giving non-Sunnis their rights (or not) in the political process....  Iraqis had problems with Saddam's regime not because he was Sunni but because he was a criminal.  People would have turned against him even if he had been Shi'ite.  Why do people say that every anti-terrorist operation is against Sunnis?....  I wish that I had heard the protesters on the Constitutional Drafting Committee say that they opposed the committee because it excluded an Iraqi legal advisor.  But, to oppose it because they concluded it didn't have enough Sunnis isn't a good enough reason.  The committee is considered sectarian because the leaders of the Sunnis convinced their group to boycott the elections.  Then those very same leaders demanded a big portion of the cake through terrorizing others with the threat of a boycott, though Sunnis did not elect the Sunni spokespersons.  They are not legitimate.  The government responded to their blackmail with support from abroad to the extent that I'm afraid that Sunni extremists will boycott the upcoming elections to get more than they could get in a free and fair election.  In that manner they will continue to assume more power and get away with their grandstanding.  The written constitution won't differentiate between one Iraqi and another and it won't favor one sect over another.  Political leaders should all concentrate on writing a patriotic constitution and not sectarianism one."


"Constitutional Discussions"


SCIRI-affiliated Al-Adala (8/22) in Arabic carried and editorial by Ali Khalif:  "The current discussions on the constitution among the Iraqi politicians represent a very important step in Iraq's journey to democracy.  However, it seems as though every political group is trying to impose its own agenda on the constitution....  There are some who hold political opinions that do not serve the Iraqi national interest.  For example, those who oppose the idea of federalism in Iraq might have accepted it if they had natural resources in their own provinces.  If we believe in democracy and freedom we must not be afraid of federalism....  But I think that some political groups in Iraq are selfish and because of that they try to dominate all other groups.  These are the groups that accept the idea of Kurdish federalism while at the same time refusing the concept of establishing federal territories in any other part of Iraq....  Nevertheless, the current constitutional process represents a great achievement and the Iraqi politicians who have taken the lead in this process must complete the task of drafting a constitution that meets the needs of all Iraqi people.  We do not like anyone to make use of this achievement to make it a platform to launch bombastic slogans.  The Iraqi people want to live in peace and they want to enjoy their fair share of Iraqi wealth and natural resources."


"Why Are We Afraid Of Federalism"


Sa'eed Abdul Hadi wrote in Independent As-Sabah (8/22):  "Until yesterday, federalism was an obstacle in the way of reaching an agreement on the constitution draft.  As everyone knows there is a Shiite-Kurdish agreement on federalism.  However, the Sunnis call for non-centralism of provinces and totally refuse federalism.  The Arab Sunnis think that federalism will lead to the unfair distributing of natural resources among provinces.  We do not know the reason behind such fear since the Iraqi politicians unanimously agreed on the distribution of natural resources....  The Western media focuses on the positive points of federalism and how important it is for Iraq's development.  The conservative Pan Arab media outlets severely attack federalism in Iraq.  We feel that they attack federalism in Iraq because they want to defend their own political establishment.  Those establishments would be threatened if federalism succeeded in Iraq....  The Arab countries are still governed by tyrannical regimes.  Those regimes give a very good picture of what is called the eastern tyranny.  The so-called progressive Arab press opposes the rights of Iraqis to establish their own federalism.  Administrative federalism in Iraq is necessary because it would restore the confidence of our many ethnic groups.  We must not say bad things about each other.  We must not say things like; Sunnis refuse federalism because they want to implement a nationalist Arab

project for the sake of our neighbors or accuse the Shiites of being involved in an Iranian plan in Iraq.  These accusations come from those who want to destroy Iraqi confidence and encourage sectarianism....  What will the Shiites lose if a central government was established that represented the majority in Iraq?  What will the minority Sunnis benefit from having a central government?  There must be a national movement in Iraq and honest Arab writers must support this move....  Iraq is moving forward and the democratic process will never stop.  Disagreements among Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are a healthy point in this process."


"The Disagreement Points Are Increasing"


Majed Fadhel Al-Zaboon opined in independent, anti-coalition Al-Fourat (8/22):  "Despite the Constitution Drafting Committee's announcement that the political parties working on the Constitution have resolved their differences and reached an agreement, it seems that there are still arguing....  In fact they are still trying to reach an agreement on sixty-six different points.  How did six points of disagreement turn into sixty-six points of disagreement?....  One of my colleagues thought that members of the Constitution Drafting Committee would not be able to read the constitution articles because there is no electricity where he lives.  He lives far away from the International Zone so he knows nothing about the concrete walls and unlimited electricity.  My other colleague thought that they should schedule their discussions about the disagreement points.  The problem with that solution is that Arabs want a schedule according to the Arabic alphabetic and the Kurds want the Kurdish alphabetic, the same goes for others political groups....  Ambassador Khalilzad, our American brother, suggested that they use the English alphabet.  Everyone respects his wisdom and they liked the idea.  However, he decided to add more articles to the Iraqi constitution draft.  When some of the Constitution Drafting Committee members protested, he used his veto against them!  He has the right to do so because the United States is a permanent member in the International Security Council....  This is why the members of the Constitution Security Council accept his very democratic additions.  They accent federalism, and fit into the regional standards that are right for Iraq.  They were so happy with Ambassador Khalilzad that they applauded him."


[Translators note: the author is actually sarcastically criticizing the U.S. involvement in writing the Iraqi constitution.]


"This Morning"


Independent As-Sabah Al-Jadeed (8/22) carried an editorial by Ismael Zayyer:  "The completed constitution will begin the next stage in our country's evelopment.  So, do not worry about Qatar.  Do not waste time on other issues or other groups and their campaigns against us.  Go ahead brothers and ensure our children's future....  This does not mean that you should be careless and accept anyone's opinion into the Constitution.  But we should stand behind our own opinions about this historical document.  It will establish the basic elements for the government in the new Iraq....  It is our basic right to participate in the referendum and vote for the constitution.  It does not matter what your vote.  The most important thing is that we are free to express our opinions.  But we should first read the document and understand what it means.  We should also discuss the issues raised in this document.  Then we are prepared to express our opinion toward it....  If we reject any interference in our affairs, and refuse to allow the foreigner to remain on our land, we should show the world that we are a nation that says what is means and has the courage to express its opinions.  Casting a vote on the constitution is the first step for national, Arab, and international recognition.  It is the first step toward reconstruction."


"Dividing Iraq Away From The National Zeal"


Shamil Abdul Qader commented in independent, anti-coalition Al-Mashriq (8/22):  "Some Iraqis have two main ideas about the unity of Iraq.  One is that Iraq cannot be divided, and two is that dividing Iraq would be an attack against the efforts of the United States to maintain Iraqi unity.  However, most Iraqis believe that Iraq will be divided.  They think that the governments of Western and Middle Eastern countries have planned all along to divide Iraq for the benefit of Middle Eastern forces.  The people who love Iraq and its unity view federalism as a step backward under the pretext of protecting it from a centralized government....  The former United States Civil Administrator for Iraq Ambassador Paul Bremmer repeated many times that he refused federalism based on sectarian issues.  He maintained that he agreed with geographical federalism.  That means that Iraq will be turned into 18 federal territories instead of 18 provinces....  All Iraqis understand that Iraq needs a centralized government for security.  We wonder if Al-Ja'afari's government will give us the centralization of the former regime.  Iraqis will destroy the idea of division.  Their anger will come down on the heads of Iraq's enemies and on the heads of those who are trying to finance its division."


"What Is The Argument For The Constitution?"


Karekar Abdullah Khushanoo wrote inpro-coalition, PUK affiliated Al-Ittihad (8/22):  "In today's session of the Transitional National Assembly, the Constitution will either be decided or refused....  In support of the Constitution, many press statements have been issued, and there have been many meetings for the leaders of the political blocks.  Everyone is working on the Constitution's controversial issues.  The TNA will present the results to the Iraqi people.  However, they are bored with the issue and do not want another postponement....  The leaders of the political blocks have issued statements about the significant restrictions facing them.  If they are able to come to an agreement on the constitution draft, that very act will save Iraq.  The completed constitution will open up new horizons for the Iraqi people and will kick start reconstruction.  The people need a break from the their current miserable condition....  When the Political Blocks Leaders complete the draft, it will need the approval of the TNA.  If the Assembly does not approve the draft the political process goes back to the beginning.  It will be destructive to the Iraqi people in many ways.  The political, economic, security and social consequences of a denial will dishearten the people.  It will also mean that after two years of continued suffering, that included a dangerous election, they only gained a few benefits....  The elected National Assembly should have finished the constitution through the efforts of the Constitution Drafting Committee by the first deadline.  But it failed to reach an accord.  That fact compelled the president to have the political blocks to sit together in order to solve the restrictions....  The statements are continuing, some are optimistic and some are pessimistic that the document will be finished.  A decision from the TNA decision will remove these all doubts that the government is serious about the future....  We still optimistic that the TNA will give us our final draft, if we do not get the draft the country will sink into chaos and face continued foreign intervention in our internal issues....  Iraqis want a constitution that will protect their rights, protect their country, and ensure a bright future for their children.  We are waiting for the National Assembly to decide the constitution, prepare the referendum and hold the elections."


JORDAN:  "The Programmed Destruction Of Iraq"


Rakan Majali wrote in center-left, influential Al-Dustour (8/24):  “It is no longer a secret for the Iraqis that the United States is doing everything it can to tear Iraq apart while, at the same time, it continues to hold on to a loose framework of contradictions and struggles within that create an internal Iraqi formula that, in the final analysis, makes the breakout of a civil war in Iraq unavoidable should the American forces pull out....  Some people believed that the destruction was related to the military operations that took place at the time of Iraq’s occupation, but today it becomes clear that this destruction is a programmed strategy within a hatred-filled military, political, economic, cultural, and psychological war designed to destroy Iraq with the aim of controlling it and making it a model and lesson for others.”


"Iraq’s Fires Are Not An Internal Issue"


Chief Editor Taher Udwan commented in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (8/24):  "There is a fire raging in Iraq and it is continuously growing.  It would be a mistake to give in to the idea that this country is the sole concern of the United States or the responsibility of the Green Zone government in Baghdad.  What is happening in this brotherly country constitutes a disengagement process for the state and the society....  Let us stop promoting or supporting the so-called political process in Iraq.  This process is not going to lead to security, stability, or peace.  It is just a scenario on which President Bush and the neo-conservatives are insisting in order to create a military and political entity based on sectarian and tribal militias with the aim of continuing the war on behalf of the Americans....  The Iraqi situation is no longer the sole concern of Bush and Blair or even Ja’fari.  It is a regional issue and a blazing fire that threatens to consume the entire region.”


"The American Middle Ages"


Daily columnist Nahed Hattar wrote in independent, mass-appeal Arabic daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm (8/22):  “The United States is leaning towards accepting the establishment of a kind of a religious state in Iraq.  The Americans who are in a hurry to leave the Iraqi quagmire are ready to abandon their ideological objectives in return for maintaining the minimum level of control over their interests in this beleaguered country....  One must note, however, that the ‘religious state’ goes against the very essence of Iraq’s being.  It is no wonder that the modern and independent Iraq has moved, always, towards secularism.  This multi-ethnic country has always sought to guarantee first its unity and second its independence from regional powers, thus keeping it far away from the reaches of the Wahhabism of the Sunni Arabian Peninsula and from the Iranian Shiites.  What the American invaders did was that they broke the Iraqi national status and handed Iraq over to al-Qaida and the Mullahs of Iran.


"The Iraqi Constitution And Scheduling The Withdrawal"


Columnist Khaled Mahadin writes on the op-ed page of semi-official, influential Arabic daily Al-Rai (8/22):  “The Iraqi constitution is not being written by this committee whose members were elected amidst the boycott of a major and influential part of the Iraqi people.  It is being written by the status quo and what is happening outside of the meeting halls.  If there are terrorists who stand against the political process, as the Iraqi government says, and if there are militants who do not want this process to succeed, as Washington and London say, then no one can claim that these terrorists merit any respect, but it would be a grave mistake to claim that these terrorists are not playing a role.  The American and British withdrawal from Iraq is a matter of time.  The timetable for their withdrawal will not be set by a military or political entity in Washington and London, because history has taught us that the owners of the land and the rights are the ones who set the timetable of the withdrawal of forces that invade their countries.”


LEBANON:  "The Constitutional Crisis Is Not Only About Federalism"


Rafiq Khoury opined in centrist Al-Anwar (8/30):  "It was no surprise that the new Iraqi constitution has become a crisis.  Basically, the new draft of the constitution reflected the crisis over the national identity of Iraq, and the crisis of the American occupation.  The most serious crisis, however are differences over whether Iraq should become a federation.  The issue of federation in the Arab world has always been taboo.  It was never discussed or given serious thought but always had a bad reputation....  The Sunnis realized too late that they were wrong about their decision to boycott the elections, and have started to call for participation in the upcoming referendum and the next elections....  What is obvious is that the future is very dangerous for Iraq and the Arab world."


"Federalism And The Remains Of 'Arabism'"


Bechara Charbel editorialized in independent Al-Balad (8/29):  "Even if application of federalism is postponed for six months in Iraq for the sake of the Sunnis, this does not mean that Iraq has not become a federal country.  We have now a new federal country among the Arab countries...It only needs a ‘yes’ in the referendum in order to become official.  This new federalism is facing criticism and objections by many Arab countries...but it might be the best possible solution for Iraq at this time in light of the dramatic developments in Iraq following Saddam’s imprisonment....  The Sunnis will no longer have dominance in Iraq....  The Kurds and the Shiites should never be blamed for seeking this new reality....  Their suffering during the dictatorship that ‘united’ Iraq is enough of an excuse....  In any case, Iraq was united only because it was under a dictatorship.”


"The Last Stop"


Sateh Noreddine wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir (8/23):  "Formulating the new Iraqi constitution is exclusively a Lebanese event.  The text will not just be a principal law to which Iraqis refer in order to form their next state....  It will be the first American text that represents a reference to use every time the U.S. prepares a program for change in any of the countries of the Middle East including Lebanon....  The answers that America will provide to questions of identity, nationalism, regime and even the role of women will not be limited to the Iraqi state that has no country to resemble it in the region more than Lebanon.  Despite differences in particularities between the two countries, still the word federalism, which has become an item in the Iraqi constitution, is enough to wage the civil war in Lebanon again.  Lebanese anticipation of the new American text is stronger and more difficult than that of other Arab and Islamic countries....  There is only one essential difference between the two countries that the Americans would take into consideration when the time comes to rebuild the Lebanese state.  It is the Israeli issue which cannot be postponed in Lebanon as it is currently in Iraq.”


"Iraq And The Region:  (The Phase) Preceding Hamourabi"


Rafic Khoury opined in centrist Al-Anwar (8/23):  "Writing the Iraqi constitution is firstly and lastly a kind of restructuring of the nation, the regime and the state.  It is not an easy task to perform through dialogue in the presence of the American occupation, and the existing imbalance between the Iraqi entities, and the conflict of interest among regional countries that are getting involved in the security situation one way or another....  Stumbling on writing the constitution does not come as a surprise.  Agreement under the pressure of time will only mean a postponement of the problem....  the major complication is federalism that is considered by some a step towards division, and by others a way to avoid division and uphold unity....  The bigger problem is that the winds of this dangerous kind of federalism is sweeping the region and most certainly reaching Lebanon.”


"What Autumn In Lebanon And The Region?"


Rafic Khoury commented in centrist Al-Anwar (8/20):  "The picture of the region seems rosy in the mirror of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.  She sees ‘something very dramatic changing in the Middle East,’ as she told the New York Times.  What she is talking about is separate events that she ties with the course of the American policy and places them within the context of her ‘achievements’ during seven months in office....  Rice sees a unique and unusual moment that extends from spring to autumn.  In spring there was the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and the parliamentary summer there was the Gaza withdrawal...but in fall there is the Iraqi referendum over the constitution....  However, selecting a group of pictures does not draw the whole scene....  The battle in Iraq will not finish even if all parties agree on writing the constitution....  She knows that the American policy has lost its force of momentum, convincing and even pressure.  Isn’t Iran the biggest winner in Iraq and Afghanistan?....  The distinguished autumn that Rice is anticipating in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt is the autumn of fear that Lebanon expects.  The fear in the weeks that precede the report of the UN investigation committee and the fear that will follow....  Can Rice make the fear go away or is there that which may increase that fear in Washington’s policies?”


SYRIA:  "Federalism, Or A Foundation For Partition?"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned Al-Ba'th commented (8/23):  "When the U.S. declared war on Iraq it was implementing an accurate plan to serve its vital interests in the region....  The 'divide and rule' principle was on the agenda of the U.S. Administration when it drafted the State Administration Law.  There was nothing in that law to safeguard and respect the unity of the Iraqi people or the unity and sovereignty of the State on its entire territory as an indivisible whole.  Indeed, the law paved the way for departure from the unity of Iraq and its people when it entrenched the sectarian and ethnic quota system....  Under Iraq's current circumstances, the call for the establishment of various federal regions would undoubtedly dwarf Iraq and open the door for a new Sykes-Picot.  Perhaps what the advocates of division want most is to end historical Iraq and forcibly remove it from its Arab environment and turn it into cantons linked to one another, at best, by nominal bonds.  Indeed, that would be the tool for digging trenches of endless wars among the federal regions, leading to isolationism and exclusion and the establishment for full division....  But the American objective of dwarfing Iraq through the recipe of federalism as a prelude to dismantling the Iraqi state as we have known it since its establishment in 1921 and ending the Iraqi national entity is not easy to realize."

"Memory Of Geography And A Bloody Tragedy"

 Ali Qasim, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote (8/22):  "The future of Iraq is at a crossroad....  Steps are being taken behind the scene to create a dark future for Iraq....  The most tragic chapters in the history of Iraq and the whole region have not yet started.  After occupation, Iraq witnessed a series of controversial measures that appeared as a moment of declaring chaos, spreading alarm, and then causing successive collapses in Iraq's special character.  And many signs of the hidden intentions that govern Iraq's political destiny appeared directly on the surface.  All this caused the bloody episodes of unjustified death and the suspicious calls for sectarian and ethnic divisions in Iraq, which threaten to blow up the country's political future....  The anti-federalism demonstrations in Iraq were an expression of the rejection of a looming danger, the repercussions of which, the Iraqis can no longer afford and the heavy price of which, they can no longer pay.  They have paid enough with their lives and blood for a sin they did not commit.  Consequently, no one can trade in the lives and blood of the remaining Iraqis to serve the temporary narrow interests of groups that do not represent the Iraqi reality or express its characteristics."




AUSTRALIA:  "Trapped By Their Own Folly"


An op-ed from editor-at-large Paul Kelly in the national conservative Australian (8/24) asserted:  “The fissures over the unfolding failures in Iraq have permeated the Bush administration, the U.S. military and the Republican establishment--and the Howard Government cannot defy a reckoning on its Iraq policy.  George W. Bush has no credible story to offer the American public about Iraq.  Divisions are opening within his administration and there is now an unspeakable reality--on balance, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was less a threat to U.S. strategic interests than is Iraq today.  The very best outcome the U.S. will procure in Iraq now is a moderate Islamic state.  The worst is either a civil war or the entrenchment in parts of the country of extremist Islamist political power that becomes a focus of anti-Western terrorism and regional de-stabilization....  Bush is trapped by his own folly.  Bush wanted to do Iraq on the cheap.  He never had enough troops or a proper plan or a sense of the risks.  Now he is trapped between the commitment needed to beat the insurgency and the pressures for an exit strategy.  Howard is trapped with him.”


CHINA:  "Iraqis Wonder If Constitution Is An Iraqi Or A U.S. Product"


Jiang Xiaofeng commented in the official Xinhua Daily Telegraph (Xinhua Meiri Dianxun) (8/25):  “For this constitution that is so difficult to produce, the U.S. has made great efforts to promote the process....  People have to doubt that whether or not the constitution belongs to Iraq or the U.S.  During the two and a half years after the Iraq war, the U.S. has made every effort to promote Iraq’s democratization.  This seems to be the only reason for initiating the Iraq war that the Bush administration could use to convince the public, and also the excuse that the U.S. military uses to continuously delay withdrawal from Iraq.  Since the U.S. will hold mid-term elections next year, the Republicans need the Iraq issue to gain votes.  If there is problem with the Iraq issue, the Bush administration does not know what to say to the public.  The post-war Iraq reconstruction is a bet the U.S. cannot lose.  Since the U.S. efforts did not bring a smooth drafting of an Iraqi constitution, this indicates the U.S. reform plan for the Middle East will also have many troubles.”


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Iraqi People Losing Out In Democratic Process"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post said in an editorial (8/22):  "The democracy that Iraqis were promised by the U.S. when it led an invasion almost 2-1/2 years ago and overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein is far from being fulfilled.  Worse, the process is being compromised by religious and ethnic disputes, foreign pressure and hasty, ill-judged, decision- making.  Another deadline expires tonight for interim lawmakers to conclude drafting the country's new constitution.  With no more delays permitted, an inability to reach consensus on the key divisive issues of religion and autonomy will push back Iraqi self-rule by as much as a year....  What the constitution lays down is a matter for Iraqis to determine.  But drafters need to keep in mind their obligation to ensure that the people of Iraq are given the freedoms denied under Hussein--which are already adequately mapped out by international law.  A government-sanctioned decision to execute three men in coming days is at odds with those rules.  So, too, is the lack of access lawyers and families are being given to the dozens of members of Hussein's government who are in American custody and awaiting trial.  The executions, the first since the invasion, were approved by a legal system that, as yet, has no constitutional approval.  There is no basis for the use of the death penalty under international law....  The wrong signals are being sent to Iraqis.  There are many permutations of democracy, but the type they are increasingly being offered benefits some more than others.  It is a situation lawmakers must rectify now, before it is too late."


"Drafting The New Iraqi Constitution Encounters Difficulties"


The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked in an editorial (8/21):  "All factions that participated in the drafting of the new constitution have failed to come to a consensus on major questions of principle.  Hence, they missed the August 15 deadline to submit the draft to the National Assembly....  According to the amended temporary constitution, if the draft of the new constitution is not submitted to the National Assembly on August 22, the National Assembly will need to be dismissed automatically.  A new election will be held to elect a transitional National Assembly.  Then the whole process will be back to square one again, as in January before the election was held.  It will deal a heavy blow to the Iraqi political process.  This outcome is unacceptable to all parties especially the Bush administration, which is facing greater pressure to withdraw its troops from Iraq....  All of the factions have had extensive negotiations.  Whether they can resolve their fundamental differences within one week and make major concessions is totally unpredictable.  Nevertheless, it is not good for the U.S. administration to be 'over energetic' on the drafting of the Iraqi constitution because it will only give an impression that the drafting of the constitution is guided by the U.S.  Such an impression will increase people's doubt about Iraqi leaders and it will lead to an opposite result."


INDONESIA:  "Let Iraqis Decide Their Own Destiny"


Muslim intellectual Republika (8/29) stated:  “Let the Iraqis decide their own destiny, including the drafting of their constitution.  There should not be any external intervention, in particular from the United States.  Indications of the U.S.’ interference are surfacing, especially now that many Americans are demanding that their government withdraw its troops immediately.  If there is foreign intervention, we are worried that Iraq will endure incessant conflicts in the future.  For other nations--especially those where Muslims make up the majority, including Indonesia--it is important to follow developments in Iraq, because what happens in Iraq will have global impact, especially in the Middle East.”


"Draft Of Iraq Constitution" 


Leading independent Kompas (8/24) reported:  “The crisis in drafting Iraq’s Constitution has ended after an agreement was reached this week.  Various sensitive issues, such as the role of Islam in the state, controversy over the federalism system, and the apportionment of oil, have been settled through compromises.  The three issues have made the negotiation process tough, forcing the negotiation deadline to be extended....  The compromises reached in the drafting process demonstrated to the Iraqi public that the elites were not only able to compete and be in conflict, but they were also able to work together for a more democratic, just, peaceful, and prosperous Iraq in the future.”


MALAYSIA:  "Waiting For A Constitution"

The government-influenced English language New Straits Times editorialized (8/28):  "The fault has been laid squarely on the representatives of the 20 per cent Sunni minority who, under Saddam, had lorded over the Shias and Kurds.  The Sunnis had largely boycotted the elections and been wheedled into the constitution-writing committee only at America’s insistence.  Formulating a basic law upon the fractious plurality of Iraq was always going to be difficult, especially with sectarian and ethnic lines sharpened by an unequal distribution of oil.  But the Sunnis, leveraging on the insurgency, had been hoisted into a position to make or break any deal.  Worried about excessive autonomy for the Kurds and Shias, whose regions contain most of the country’s oil, and the nuking of Saddam’s Baath Party, they duly chose deadlock.  They have been bolstered by the Americans, who have pressured the Shias to bring the Sunnis 'on board' and take the sting out of the violence in the so-called Sunni triangle west of Baghdad....  Yet, whatever the Sunnis’ valid objections, federalism is clearly the only workable way forward....  What the Iraqis and the Americans do not have, however, is the luxury of time.  Democracy, and its legal framework, cannot be built in a hurry.  But its progress in Iraq is being forced with indecent haste by the Bush administration’s longing for trophies to buttress the occupation’s waning support at home.  The coalition troops are squeezed by the dilemma of being both a help and a hindrance to Iraqi self-determination.  The Iraqis must pull together, refute the world’s misgivings of their political maturity, and pack the foreign soldiers off as soon as possible."



INDIA:  "In The Land Of Hammurabi"


Hamid Ansari wrote in centrist The Hindu (8/26):  "The commitment, in the Preamble, is unexceptionable.  Sandwiched between the past and the future, however, is an unpleasant present that cannot be wished away....  The new Iraq is to be democratic, federal and parliamentary with Islam as its official religion and 'a basic source of legislation.'  It is to be multiethnic, multi-religious and multi-sect, and is to have Arabic and Kurdish as its official languages.  It is to be a part of the Islamic world and its Arab people are to be a part of the Arab nation....  Principles for the conduct of foreign policy are carefully prescribed in Chapter One itself.  'Iraq shall abide by the principles of good neighborliness and by not intervening in the internal affairs of other countries.'  It shall seek peaceful resolution of disputes, shall respect international obligations, and 'shall respect its international commitments regarding non-proliferation, non-development, non-production, and non-use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.'"

"Riddled With Contradictions"

 The centrist Hindu editorialized (8/25):  "The political parties that dominate the executive and legislative branches hope they will be able to evolve a consensus [prior to the National Assembly vote].  This hope might prove futile since the draft is riddled with contradictions....  Secular forces in the country believed that the United States, for its own reasons, would not tolerate the emergence of a theocracy.  To their dismay, Ambassador Khalilzad played a major role in persuading the drafting committee to include the Islamist provisions.  This was part of an effort to get the support of conservative Shia parties for the draft constitution so that Washington could claim that the transition to a democratic and sovereign Iraq was on schedule.  Iraq's women and religious minorities might not have the strength to confront the conservatives.  However, Sunnis have the incentive and the means to derail the constitution-making exercise....  Washington, which is desperately keen on showing that its policy is `on track', has again forced Iraqis to act against their own interests."


"Although There Is An Elected Government In Iraq, There Is A Lack Of Consensus Vis-A-Vis The New Constitution" 


The centrist Gujarati daily Gujaratmitra (8/19) noted:  "Despite the formation of a government in Iraq after the January 2005 elections, there seems to be a complete absence of consensus on the creation of a new constitution for the strife-torn country.  Even the U.S. feels disillusioned, as there is no understanding among all concerned on this issue....  The U.S. invaded Iraq on the pretext of establishing democracy there.  However, from Day One, America has been facing hindrances in achieving this objective in Iraq.  The U.S., caught between the growing discontent back home and the increasing number of American casualties in Iraq, is looking for a respectful exit from Iraq.  The U.S. authorities hoped that the introduction of a new constitution would offer the U.S forces an honorable ruse to move out of Iraq.  The bone of contention among the warring parties on the Iraqi constitution is whether Iraq should or shouldn’t be an Islamic nation.  The U.S. wants Iraq to be identified as a secular democratic nation.  However, looking at the present scenario, it seems America’s efforts will not fructify unless there is consensus on this issue.”


"On The Brink" 


The centrist Times of India (8/20) noted:  "With the failure to meet the August 15 deadline to write a new constitution, as well as the Baghdad bombings that targeted Shias coming from the country's south, Iraq may be standing on the edge of a precipice.  None of the exercises that the American had hoped would quell the violence have worked.  The arrest of Saddam Hussein in December 2003, the handover of sovereignty in June 2004, and elections held in January this year.  There are fundamental disagreements between the country's principal ethnic groups-Shias, Kurds and Sunni Arabs-which is holding up the writing of a new constitution.  These disagreements pertain to the nature and even the existence of Iraq....   Meanwhile, a steadily rising toll of American servicemen is sapping the American will to stay in Iraq.  As the popular support attracted by Cindy Sheehan's vigil near President Bush's vacation ranch shows, domestic opinion is shifting against continuing American presence in Iraq.  A sudden American withdrawal, however, would have catastrophic consequences.  Without any legitimate authority in Iraq, the country is likely to plunge into civil war.  By destroying existing arrangements and putting nothing in its place, the Americans have brought about the very failed state and incubator of jehad that, ironically was proffered as the reason for invading Iraq in the first place.  The only things that may work now is if the Americans could persuade the UN to take its place Iraq."


PAKISTAN:  "Nostalgia For The Saddam Days"


Karachi-based, center-left English language Dawn declared (8/28):  "Nobody could have believed that there would be a pro-Saddam march in Iraq within two and a half years of the fall of Baghdad.  On Friday, marchers at a rally in Baquba raised slogans in favor of former president Saddam Hussein and denounced the constitution now under preparation.  Their main cause of concern was that Iraq should not have a federal constitution.  Such a system, they feared, would lead to their country’s disintegration.  Iraq’s Sunnis are opposed to federalism, so are most of the Shias; only the Kurds are keen on a federal scheme.  Firebrand Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr has come out against a federal constitution and said it would be rejected by the people when it is put to vote....  More than the constitutional controversy, the Baquba march represents the frustration of the Iraqi people over the chaos in their country....  Sources in Washington say troop levels in Iraq will depend on the fate of the constitution.  The draft will stand scrapped if it is rejected even by three provinces.  In that event, one could expect a continuation of the American military presence in Iraq and more bloodshed and anarchy.  No wonder, there should be nostalgia for Saddam’s days when Iraq did not have freedom but at least it was peaceful."


"Iraqi Draft Constitution And Sunni Apprehensions"


The independent Urdu daily Din (8/26):  "The Iraqi PM has very confidently said that he is presenting the draft constitution to the parliament for approval.  He has that there is unanimity on 151 out of 153 sections and there would be agreement on the remaining two as well; but the Sunni community denies this.  It says that the agreement is between the Shias and the Kurds, Sunnis are not part of it....  If Sunnis do not agree to the draft constitutions, the Sunni provinces would reject it at the time of referendum.  This would worsen the situation, as American and British troops would only leave once a new Iraqi assembly comes into being after the constitution is approved and adopted.  However, if as Sunnis are threatening, the constitution is not approved, a new constituent assembly would have to be formed which will start the process from scratch.  Events could move into the wrong direction, leading to a civil war, Iraq's disintegration, etc, etc, and create an overall negative impact on the Middle East.  If the issue is oil, the Sunni leadership's logic that the issue can be resolved by dividing Iraq is incomprehensible.  The matter must be resolved by removing apprehensions about the real issue so that the country can benefit from a democratic system.


"Iraq's Disputed Basic Law"


Center-right national English daily The Nation (8/24) editorialized:  "Apparently, Shias and Kurds could no longer resist the U.S. pressure to iron out their differences over the country's draft constitution by the extended deadline of August 22 and were able to submit an 'agreed' version to the Parliament hours before the midnight.  But that does not presage that embattled Iraq is finally set on the road to a peaceful, constitutional future; for, even if these two communities succeed in genuinely resolving their differences over vital issues like the source of law (reconciling the Kurd demand for a secular constitution with the Shia insistence on making Islam the basis of law and allowing clerics to play a political role), the discontented Sunni factor could very well ditch the entire exercise.   Mr. Naseer al-Ani, a Sunni member of the constitutional committee, complained, "I haven't seen what has been written...until this moment we can't say that the issues have been agreed upon....."  The present Iraqi scenario is quite scary, thanks to the U.S. role since the First Gulf War.  Kurds have for so long enjoyed autonomy that they would like to capitalize on it by getting more concessions, which neighboring countries having Kurdish population would resent.  Shias, so far denied their due place, would be loath to cede too much ground.  Sunnis, once the ruling elite, feel driven to the wall.  Reconciliation, though the best course to get rid of the foreign invaders, seems a distant dream. 


"Iraq's New Constitution: Aspect That Needs Attention"


 An editorial in the pro-Muslim league (N) Urdu daily Pakistan (8/23) remarked:  "There has been no agreement among Iraqi leaders on the draft of the new constitution....  A careful review of the Iraqi situation would reveal that the real issue is dispute over oil wealth.  The Sunnis fear they would not get any share from this wealth if the country is given a federal system of government.  The issue of provincial authority is also linked to the distribution of oil wealth.  The Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis must understand that they all stand to lose if they do not act equitably--only the imperialist [power] would be victorious, the real objective of whose attack was control over oil." 


"Situation In Iraq:  International Community Should Fulfill Its Obligations"


An editorial in the Karachi-based Taliban mouthpiece Islam (8/23) commented:  "The instability in Iraq is a matter of great concern for the entire world.  All the dreams of freedom, peace and justice after the toppling of Saddam’s dictatorial government have proved to be mirages.  Even if a mutually agreed constitution is penned down, there is no likelihood that the incidents of violence would recede because the resistance forces in Iraq have no interest in the formulation of Constitution.  Therefore, there is no likelihood of an improvement in the situation in Iraq in the near future." 


"Allied Forces Should Also Play Role For Peace, Stability In Iraq"


An editorial in the leading mass circulation Urdu daily, Jang (8/23) commented:  "According to reports, some seven thousand U.S. on-duty troops have refused to resume duties in Iraq while about 150 of them have sought political asylum in Canada.  The refusal of seven thousand U.S. troops to resume their duties in the unjustified war on Iraq, against the voice of their conscience, is a matter of great concern for the entire international community.  Especially those countries that supported the U.S. aggression in Iraq should contemplate why such a situation has arisen.  Even if after holding the elections under an interim constitution and the formation of parliament and a democratic government in Iraq, the sequence of bloodshed, killings of innocents, kidnapping of diplomats and blowing up of vital installations is not abetting then it is a proof that the people of Iraq are not ready to bear the presence of foreign forces on their land.  But in the absence of a comprehensive infrastructure, the withdrawal of allied forces would further push the country towards an unending fire of civil war."




CANADA:  "Iraq's Draft Constitution"


The leading, centrist Globe and Mail opined (8/24):  "Like every other aspect of democratic nation-building, crafting a constitution that meets the needs of a diverse population and various competing political interests is no easy task.  It is particularly difficult in a country such as Iraq, with its history of authoritarian rule and its instability, violence and bitter ethnic and sectarian divisions.  Compromise and accommodation have not been part of the Iraqi political vocabulary....  The original idea was to produce a consensus blueprint that laid a solid foundation for a liberal democracy governed by the rule of law and respectful of minority rights.  This was seen as an important weapon in the fledgling government's battle against the bloody insurgency.  Instead, the Shia and Kurdish leaders have put their own religious and secular interests ahead of the country's needs, proposing a dangerously hobbled government in Baghdad and ensuring that the Sunnis, who controlled the levers of power under Saddam Hussein, will continue to feel marginalized and threatened....  After winning independence from Britain, the United States required years of compromise and concessions to come up with a constitution that addressed the problems inherent in its initial weak central government and loose confederation of largely self-governing states, many of which had conflicting interests.  The Iraqis seem to be opting for the vulnerable system the Americans originally had, but with the additional handicaps of sectarian divisions, a growing insurgency and no experience in the practice of democracy.  It is not a promising recipe for the future."


"A Patch-Up Job For Iraq"


The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (8/24):  "Patching Iraq back together after U.S. President George Bush shattered Saddam Hussein's repressive Baathist regime was never going to be easy.  After all, Iraq is a nation of 27 million split along three vast fault lines:  Shia and Sunni Muslim Arabs, and Kurds.  Saddam held it together, just barely, with a reign of terror....  What is on offer so far seems to reflect the aspirations of the 60 per cent Shia majority that was disenfranchised under Saddam, and the 20 per cent Kurdish minority, if not the Sunni 20 per cent who ran the country until Saddam's fall.  While Bush can be faulted for launching a needless war and for bungling the occupation, he deserves credit at least for providing a mechanism for Iraqis to take the future in their own hands by forging a new national accord....  Tinkering to mollify critics may yet occur before the National Assembly votes to adopt the pact.  Certainly, basic Sunni rights must be respected.  But ultimately the Iraqi people must decide.  Sunnis can't dictate terms.  And the system has safeguards.  Iraqis collectively can say 'no' in an October referendum if they see the deal as fatally flawed.  The Sunnis have an effective community veto.  They dominate four provinces.  If two-thirds in any three provinces reject the deal, it's back to the drawing-board.  Secular Iraqis, poor Shias and women may also oppose the deal.  If they do, this patch-up job may prove to be a work in progress.  The good news is, Iraqis are getting to shape their own destiny."

"Constitutional Malaise" 

Editorialist Serge Truffaut wrote in intellectual, nationalist Le Devoir (8/23):  "Written almost exclusively by Shiites and Kurds, the text will probably be rejected by the Sunnis.  One can speak of a project still-born....  [The Sunnis] will compel the Pentagon to delay the departure of the troops planned for Spring 2006.  Because, until then,…the Sunni revolt…will double its efforts to take the country where they want:  total chaos."


"Iraq's Imperfect Constitution"


The conservative National Post observed (8/23):  "Iraq's Shiite Islamist rulers are threatening to force through parliament a draft constitution in the face of fierce opposition from the Sunni minority.  It is hard to see what good can come of the maneuver, which appears to have been backed by U.S. diplomats who had been frantically working in the background to ensure that some agreement be reached by yesterday's deadline--even an imperfect one.  At worst, the move threatens to incite the rage and sense of disenfranchisement of Sunnis, boosting support for the insurgency, and worsening the violence in Iraq.  At best, it might bring about a fleeting political engagement by Sunnis, since if two-thirds of voters in three or more of Iraq's 18 provinces vote 'no' in the national referendum in mid-October, the constitution will be defeated....  Either way, unless Iraq can address Sunni demands in the next three days...hope of national reconciliation for Iraq remains elusive....  The transition from Saddam's brutal dictatorship to democracy is proving more difficult than most--particularly U.S. leaders--could have imagined.  Even the details of the constitution, such as a provision that makes Islam 'a main source' for legislation and bans laws that contradict 'the fixed principles of the rules of Islam,' undermine a key U.S. hope--that a modern, secular democracy would emerge in Iraq....  The U.S. may have its prize--a constitutional agreement of sorts--but it comes at a cost of further stirring up the existing conflict.  Not only does it threaten to fuel Sunni alienation, but the fundamental concession by the U.S. to yield to the Shiite demand for the inclusion of Islamic law will feed growing concerns about the role of Washington's chief rival in the region, Iran's Shiite mullocracy, in Iraq's future.  The Pentagon is hoping to begin reducing its massive military presence in Iraq by the middle of next year; however, it was reported yesterday that contingency plans are being made for a 'worst case' that would keep troop levels in Iraq at well over 100,000 through 2009.  This is a wise precaution."


ARGENTINA:  "Iraq:  Constitution In Jeopardy, Rumors Of Civil War"


Business-financial, pro-U.S. Ambito Financiero said (8/26):  "Inter-ethnic negotiations aimed at giving Iraq a Constitution were almost thwarted last night and this might result in a serious setback for George W. Bush's policy in the Arab country.  Hours after the 'sine die' suspension in Congress of the session where the bill had to be approved, the factions in conflict negotiated feverishly in order to avoid a rift of unpredictable consequences.  Despite the lack of agreement on the draft that was already presented in Congress, its President, Hajim Al-Hassani said negotiations would continue until tonight....  The draft of the Constitution sparked warnings from the Sunnis on a possible civil war if it's approved, particularly due to its opposition to federalism which, they say, will divide the country.  This ethnic group, with minor representation in Congress, also fears the creation of a federal State might give control of the country's powerful and rich oil regions of the north to Shiites and Kurds that are controlling the Legislative Assembly....  In the meantime, the spokesperson of the Iraqi government, Laith Kubba, said Congress doesn't need a formal meeting to approve the Constitution because it was already delivered last Monday....  The interim administration, backed by the U.S., tried to calm tensions down, but violence between Mahdi's Army and Mogtada al-Sadr, and rival Shiite groups--resulting from the bloody clashes of Sunni insurgents on Wednesday--reduce, even further, the hopes that the Constitution issue will be resolved in the referendum that will take place in October."


BRAZIL:  "Crisis In Sight"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo (8/24) editorialized:  “The new Constitution proposal in Iraq already includes the next crisis, which may result in a split in that nation....  The problem is that there is no political consensus.  The most powerful groups succeeded in including their main aspirations in the project, but did so by practically jettisoning the Sunnis from the constitutional process....  Kurds and Shiites have the power to approve the Constitution, but it would be a double mistake to ignore the Sunnis....  Most important, however, is the fact that the Sunnis represent the focus of the insurgence.  Any agreement from which they are excluded means the perpetuation or even the intensification of the civil war, which could lead to the fragmentation of Iraq.”


"Without Consensus, Deadline Is Just An Anodyne Gesture"


International writer Luciana Coelho commented in liberal Folha de S. Paulo (8/23):  “The delivery of the Constitutional text represents very little advance.  Without agreement on a fundamental point--federalism--all the gesture permits to think is that the Iraqis (or at least the Shiite Arabs) are seriously committed to the deadline established by the provisional government and supported by Washington.  However, no one knows its cost and how it will be fulfilled.  Actually, it is worse than that:  the answer the text delivered yesterday allows one to foresee is not an encouraging one....  For a nation that intends to become, as the U.S. calls, a democracy, it is not a good start. It is simplistic and even foolish to attribute the 2003 war merely to oil.  However, in the case of the Constitution, under the Iraqi soil is exactly where the disagreements are....  The definition of federalism, as both Shiites and Kurds want to include in the Constitution, implies certain autonomy of the provinces.  The Sunnis fear that such autonomy will give the others exclusive power on oil....  Without access to Iraq’s main wealth, the Sunnis will gain elements to continue promoting insurgence in Iraq.”


JAMAICA:  "Iraq’s Constitutional Showdown"


University lecturer and columnist John Rapley writes in the moderate, influential Gleaner (8/26):  "Iraq’s tortuous constitutional process is getting a little smoother.… The Americans are desperate to see this go ahead.  They would dearly love to leave Iraq.  Despite White House bluster, the insurgency is not on its last legs.  The death toll among U.S. soldiers is now zeroing in on 2,000.  As young men and women fail to return, anxiety grows on the home front.… The Americans are hoping that if Iraqi politicians can agree on a constitution, then elect a new government, it might be possible for U.S. troops to begin withdrawing as early as next spring.  Though the White House will not commit to a deadline, it knows this war could become a liability in future elections....  There are plenty of pessimistic scenarios.  The most obvious among them is that the constitution fails to provide a rallying point to Iraqis, but rather divides them along sectarian lines.  A U.S. withdrawal might then leave a vacuum that could quickly give in to civil war....  The discussions surrounding the constitution appear to reveal a growing sense of exasperation....  There is still the possibility that the Sunnis could scuttle the deal…But will insurgents…try to play an end-game and intensify the conflict from now?  Whatever the outcome, it may well be that some in the White House are ruing the day they chose to ignore the advice of those who said they’d regret barging into Iraq.


Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home