*Guerillas killed a US soldier with small arms fire and wounded two others at a base northeast of Baghdad near Baquba. A truck carrying ammunition to the airport to be destroyed hit a landmine. Eyewitnesses saw four wounded soldiers being taken away. One later died. A guerrilla fired a rocket propelled grenade at US troops in Baghdad, but missed.
*Paul Bremer says that elections in Iraq next summer are not out of the question if a constitution can be written over the next few months and approved in a referendum. This is a major shift of course, since initially Bremer seemed to envision a long period of US direct rule over Iraq. The continued guerrilla war of Baathist and Islamist Sunni Arabs, and the unrest and infighting among Shiites in the South, seem to have convinced the US of the need for a quick exit. Grand Ayatollah Fadlullah in Lebanon speculated that US actions in Iraq would henceforth be taken for the sake of the 2004 election. This sort of timetable—an elected Iraqi government within a year– is one for which I’ve been calling for some time.
The only question is whether an Iraqi constitutional convention can draft a constitution in only six months or so. Of course, they have some models, not only past Iraqi constitutions but also those of other countries. I personally think they should avoid as models other Arab constitutions, which seem to me deeply flawed. And, they should think seriously about taking some leaves from the US constitution. It is important that each of the 19 provinces has its own elected legislature and governor, and that two-thirds of the provinces approve any subsequent change in the constitution. A bicameral Federal legislature with a senate would allow Sunni Arabs and Kurds to be slightly over-represented, guarding them from a tyranny of the Shiite majority, whereas a lower house could be based on population. And, they should think seriously about adopting some form of the US first amendment. I know they will probably want to make Islam the religion of the state, so the Establishment clause is unlikely to be in there, but they can still require tolerance for non-Muslims. (The UK has a state religion, Anglicanism, but Catholics, Baptists and Muslims are not necessarily ipso facto mistreated there).
*Sadrists in Najaf are targetting senior clerics again, Shiite clerics in Kuwait alleged to al-Hayat. They said that over the past two days, ruffians associated with Muqtada al-Sadr have threatened the life of Muhammad Husayn al-Hakim. Al-Hakim, the son of Ayatollah Muhammad Sa`id al-Hakim, has sought security from the US Marines. Sadrists were said to want to scare the ayatollah that his son might well be killed.
Likewise, rough elements from the Sadrists beat up Hujjat al-Islam Safa’ al-Muzaffar, an aid to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and forbade him to try to go to Sistani’s home. The day before, on Tuesday, they had put Hujjat al-Islam Sayyid Amjad al-`Adhari in the hospital, where he is still recovering from the attack. He is an aid to Ayatollah Muhammad Sa`id al-Hakim, an associate of Sistani. On Thursday, another Sistani aid, named Falah, was beaten up by armed Sadrists. They are said to have taken over most of the seminaries in Najaf. Armed Sadrist gangs have been bused into the city, some of them former Baathist thugs, alleged Kuwaiti cleric Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Mihri. The Kuwaiti Council of Shiite Clergy demanded that the Coalition provide security to the city of Najaf and its leading clerics.