Constitutional Wrangling in Iraq
Americans fear Blowback
The process of writing the Iraqi constitution is well advanced, and drafts are circulating. But the work has run into snags over some big issues such as federalism, the place of religious law, and the shape of the Kurdistan province. None of us outside observers can figure out why the head of the drafting committee, Shiite cleric Humam al-Hamoudi, keeps saying that the whole process will be wrapped up by the beginning of August. His certitude makes one suspicious that some sort of backroom deal has been cut between the Shiites and the Kurds, to which the Sunni Arabs are not privy.
More on the question of women’s rights in the new Iraqi constitution, with comments from Iraqi’s minister of women’s affairs and others.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that 22 of the 41 members of the Basra provincial council, elected last January, have suspended their membership in protest. They object to the threat issued by the provincial governor to the central government in Baghdad, and are also protesting the insecurity that has led to a string of assassinations, as well as the halting of work on service projects. The governor had made a threat to the central government about what would happen if, within three months, Basra province did not start receiving a share of the oil proceeds from the Rumaila fields. The council members said that they agreed about the dire economic straits of the province, but did not approve of his threatening the central government. They also were alarmed at the province’s poor security and the string of assassinations, for which no one was ever held accountable.
Shaikh Mahmoud al-Sumaidaie, preaching Friday at the Sunni Umm al-Qura Mosque in Baghdad, denounced the Kurdish plan for a loose federalism as a plot to break up Iraq.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports: 14 Iraqis were killed, including 9 policemen, in various incidents in Baghdad on Friday.
Elsewhere, clashes between guerrillas and Iraqi police in the northern environs of Samarra left two civilians dead and 6 injured.
Eyewitnesses reported that they heard the sound of 7 explosions, one after another, inside an American base east of Fallujah, and could see plumes of smoke rising as helicopters constantly circled.
The NYT adds
‘ In the most deadly incident, three brothers, two of them policemen and the third a Sunni cleric, were kidnapped in northern Baghdad around midnight on Thursday, tortured and shot dead with a machine gun, according to an official at the Interior Ministry. Their bodies were found Friday, the official reported. Gunmen attacked police patrols in Baghdad in three incidents, killing five and wounding four, the official said. Other gunmen killed two members of an Interior Ministry antiterrorism task force in the capital. An American marine was killed Wednesday by a roadside bomb while conducting combat operations near Zaidon, the American military command reported Friday.’
Guerrillas used a roadside bomb on the highway near Latifiyah to kill two Iraqi civilians and to wound 3. The target was apparently a US military convoy that had just passed by.
But the most horrible incident of all was the attack on newlyweds, which left the bride dead and the husband in hospital and bewildered. He was probably attacked because he is in the new Iraqi army.
The guerrillas are putting pressure on cell phone companies in Iraq to be more efficient and do a better job of providing service. If the guerrillas are using cell phones, though, they aren’t very bright. The US National Security Agency can monitor cell phone conversations very expertly.
Iran is offering to help rebuild Iraq’s petrochemical and other industries.
Nearly half of the American public believes that the Iraq quagmire is interfering with the struggle against terrorism. About 45% also believe that the Iraq War is increasing the risk of a terror attack in the United States.
The American public seems confused about Iraq. Only 27% think that Bush has a coherent plan for Iraq. OK, so they have their eyes open there. But 52% say the US should stay there until the country stabilizes. And fully 60% believe that a stable government will emerge there. I’m not sure how they think this is going to happen in the absence of good policy-making. Life is not a fairy tale, folks. Sometimes it isn’t going to be all right.