Constitution Unfinished As Deadline

Constitution Unfinished as Deadline Looms
17 Dead in Violence Saturday

Sunni Arab members of the constitution drafting committee are still rejecting language that would make Iraq a “federal” republic. In practice, this language would formally acknowledge Kurdistan and perhaps Shiite federations of provinces in the south as having a good deal of autonomy and a claim on petroleum revenues from Kirkuk (the Kurds) and Rumaila (the Shiites). The Sunni Arabs do not have a developed petroleum or natural gas field and so would suffer from a federal arrangement that left some of the petroleum income in the provinces rather than having the central government take it all and redistribute it. It increasingly looks as though the only way the committee can meet its August 1 deadline for informing parliament that it will be done by August 15 would be to simply over-rule the minority Sunnis with an up and down vote. The bitterness this step would leave in Sunni mouths might make it inadvisable.

al-Hayat: Sunni parliamentarian Mishaan Jiburi, on a visit to Damascus, warned that for the Shiites and Kurds to run roughshod over the Sunni Arabs and their concerns would result in civil war. He said they would be driven in even greater numbers into opposition to the government and the foreign occupation. Among the points they most cared about, he said, were that Iranians must not be mentioned as a recognized Iraqi minority in the constitution. He said it was also important to distance the government from religion.

His concerns were echoed by five clan leaders from the Fallujah area meeting with US officers. They said a federal Iraq in which the Kurds got the oil of Kirkuk and the Shiites the oil of Rumaila in the south, would leave the Sunni Arabs with “the desert sands of Anbar.”

Deputy speaker of the house and member of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance, Hussein Shahristani, told al-Hayat on Saturday that some combination of southern, largely Shiite provinces may form a confederation within the framework of a federal Iraq. He said as many as ten provinces or as few as two could join this confederation (which would be analogous to the “Kurdistan” formed from northern provinces by the Kurds). He said most leading politicians had already agreed to this step, with the exception of a few who thought it might prove too much of a complication in Iraqi politics at the moment.

Shahristani also said that it was absolutely unacceptable for the Peshmerga paramilitary of the Kurdish parties to remain an armed force in Kurdistan. He said that defense would be the prerogative of the central government in Baghdad.

There seems little doubt that the permanent constitution will acknowledge a leading role for Islamic law in legislation. The question is whether it will be the source of legislation or one among several. Also, it will matter if the constitution puts Iraqis under their religious law for matters of personal status like marriage, divorce and so forth, and whether a special status is recognized for the grand ayatollahs in Najaf, as it was in a draft leaked last week to al-Sabah newspaper.

Newsday says, ‘ “Mouafak al-Rubaie, a national security adviser and a Shiite, met al-Sistani on Saturday and said the main concern of the Shiite religious leadership is to “preserve the Islamic identity of Iraq and its people, which means preserving a united Iraq and people as a state.” ‘

Adnan Dulaimi maintains that he has been fired as head of the Sunni Pious Endowments Board by the Jaafari government because he was too outspoken a champion of Sunni causes.

Al-Hayat says that the Association of Muslim Scholars (Sunni) objected strongly to Dulaimi’s firing, and the installation in his place of Shaikh Ahmad Abd al-Ghafur al-Samarra’i. They said the replacement was made by the government without any consultation with the Sunni Arab community.

On Sunday morning, guerrillas detonated a carbomb near Haswah, a half an hour’s drive south of Baghdad, killing 5 civilians and wounding 10.

A roadside bomb targetting a British military convoy southwest of the city of Basra in Iraq’s deep south on Saturday, killing 2 private security guards. A second bomb timed to hit rescuers instead killed two local children.

BAGHDAD – Guerrillas detonated a car bomb at a police checkpoint in the capital. They killed 7, wounded 25.

Reuters reports other casualties of Iraq’s unconventional civil war:

Three employees of Baghdad International Airport, who had been kidnapped, turned up blindfolded and dead.

A roadside bomb aimed at a US military patrol in Dura instead killed an Iraqi civilian.

A member of the Sunni National Dialogue Council that is cooperating with the elected government in crafting a constitution narrowly missed being assassinated Saturday. His bodyguard was wounded.

Reuters adds:

“BAGHDAD – An Iraqi health ministry official, Eman Naji, was kidnapped by gunmen who stormed her home in the capital’s upscale district of Mansour, police said.”

In HIT, west of the capital, a suicide bomber hit a US military patrol, wounding 4 Marines.

In Mahmudiya just south of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed one Iraqi civilian and wounded 3.

The US military has established a new base in the northwest of Iraq aimed at interdicting infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq.

You’re not allowed to blog about the Iraq War critically if you are an active duty serviceman over there. This is why we know so little about what is really going on. Few will risk reporting on the reality while Don Rumsfeld wants boosterism and cheerleading.

I reported a few days ago that a US military base near Fallujah had taken mortar fire. Aljazeerah even had film showing damage to a building as US troops standing around. I noted that the wire services and other reporters appeared to have ignored the story. I heard from a relative of someone serving in Fallujah, who said that all the bases around there take mortar fire so frequently that it has become a big yawn for the troops. Now, since march the US military has conducted a vigorous propaganda campaign proclaiming how nice post-invasion Fallujah is, how life has returned to normal, with bustling traffic and trade, and how it is the safest city in Iraq. While some quarters may in fact have gotten back to a semblance of normality, not all the city has, and the area isn’t safe, just as Anbar province in general is not. The reason we don’t know more about the real situation is that the troops are being forbidden to tell us about it. Most of what they could reveal would not in fact endanger the US military. But it would endanger the propaganda and black psy-ops campaigns being run on us by the civilians in the Department of Defense.