Constitution Drafting Subcommittee

Constitution-Drafting Subcommittee Excludes Sunnis
Chalabi to be Pardoned

Hamza Hendawi reports that the new government will attempt to use high Sunni officials such as Defense Minister Saadoun Dulaimi and Vice Premier Abid Mutlak al-Juburi (Jiburi) to reach out to Sunni Arab moderates. Few expect this effort to have an effect on the guerrillas. But it might draw away some fence-sitters among the Sunni Arab notables. Hendawi notes, ” Key members of the Shiite Alliance, the largest parliamentary bloc with 140 seats, say the government plans to amend a 2003 ”de-Baathification” law to give judges the final say on dismissing suspected Baathists. They hope that will make the process fairer in the eyes of Sunni Arabs.” Meanwhile, al-Hayat quotes Dulaimi as saying that he has no intention of purging the Defense Ministry of ex-Baathists. In contrast, the Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr, from the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, says he will purge his ministry of suspect elements. AP maintains that as a practical matter, the purge of ex-Baathists has started up again in the Baghdad bureaucracy, now that Allawi is out of power.

The 55-member committee appointed Tuesday to draft Iraq’s permanent constitution has been set up with proportional representation from the party lists that dominate parliament. Thus, the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance has 28 seats on the committee, but the Sunni Arabs at the moment have only one! It appears that there are plans to expand the committee so as to add more Sunnis, and I should hope so. A constitution written by this committee is highly unlikely to be acceptable to the Sunni Arabs. Any three of their provinces can veto the constitution if they don’t like it.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II is set to pardon Ahmad Chalabi, who has emerged as vice-premier in the new government. Chalabi was indicted in Jordan in 1992 for embezzling over $200 million from his Petra Bank in the 1980s in that country. A lot of his bank’s stated collateral was fraudulent, and a lot of the missing money appears to have gone to Chalabi relatives in the form of loans never collected on. Chalabi was investigated by the US military for allegedly passing sensitive information from the US to Iran. He was close to the Neoconservatives in the Pentagon, whom he provided with false reports about Iraq’s weapons capabilities, and apparently one of the Neocons told him that the US had broken the codes used by the Iranian government. Chalabi let the Iranians know, and they changed their code. One result of this espionage on behalf of Iran by Chalabi is that the US now cannot so easily monitor the Iranian nuclear program. Chalabi survived his tiff with the US government, however, by allying with the hard line Shiite Muqtada al-Sadr faction, as well as maintaining his links with Shiite moderates, so that he emerged as a power broker in the new government (he was number 10 on the United Iraqi Alliance cobbled together by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.) The US military turned over to Chalabi surviving records from the Iraqi ministry of the interior, which he has apparently used to blackmail politicians who, the documents show, were on Saddam’s payroll.

Just so readers don’t put their necks out doing a double take, I just want to repeat that Chalabi is a vice premier of Iraq and the Jordanian government is going to pardon him for embezzling over $200 million. In an unrelated story, two burglars from Dubuque, Iowa, face life in prison under a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ law for their robbery of the West Locust Mart (their third offense), in 2000.

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