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2005-08-24 13:24:00
Embassy Baghdad
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E.0. 12958: N/A

SUMMARY: Discussions on the Constitution was one of the
major editorial theme of the daily web-site editorials on
August 23, 2005. END SUMMARY.


A. "Citizenship and Sectarianism; The Difference Between The
Sunni and Shiite Constitution" (Iraqi Press Website in
Arabic, 8/22)

B. "Iraqi Constitution and the Dialogue of the Deaf" (Iraq
4 All News in Arabic, 8/23)

C. "Concession Over Self-Determination" (Al-Rafidayn Web
Site in Arabic, 8/23)

D. "Iraq, Uniqueness of the Constitutional Battle . . . The
Uniqueness of the Iraqi Case" (Soat Al-Iraq (The Voice of
Iraq) in Arabic, 8/23)


A. "Citizenship and Sectarianism; The Difference Between The
Sunni and Shiite Constitution"
(Iraqi Press Website in Arabic - Editorial by Ali Al-Shlah, htm)

"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."

B. "Iraqi Constitution and the Dialogue of the Deaf"
(Iraq 4 All News in Arabic - Editorial By Jihad Al-Khazin)

"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 preventing
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."

C. "Concession Over Self-Determination"
(Al-Rafidayn Web Site (independent) in Arabic - Editorial by
Venus Fa'iq

"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."

D. "Iraq, Uniqueness of the Constitutional Battle . . . The
Uniqueness of the Iraqi Case"
(Soat Al-Iraq (The Voice of Iraq) in Arabic - Editorial by
Ameer Al-Taheri

"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."