Constitution Cliffhanger 6 Us Troops

Constitution Cliffhanger
6 US Troops Killed

Politicians and the parliamentary drafting committee in Iraq are meeting Sunday afternoon in an attempt to report out the new constitution to parliament in time for the August 15 (Monday) deadline for parliament to vote on it. Reuters is reporting as of late Sunday morning that a prominent Sunni politician, Saleh al-Mutlak, is still resisting federalism at this late date. (In fact, Sunni Arab opposition to federalism is no absolute bar to the constitution being reported out, since the Shiites and the Kurds could just outvote them in committee.) The issue that could really derail the whole process is rather the question of the role of Islam; if the Shiites insist on endorsing Islamic law (and not just Islam in a vague way), the Kurds could refuse to come aboard. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani certainly wants an article enshrining the place of Islamic law. Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani of the Kurdish Alliance reject it.

Whereas some such issues could be settled by simply being vague, this particular one seems to me not open to such a resolution by irresolution. The vague language is a defeat for Sistani in the nature of the case. Can the Shiites accept such a defeat in the constitution and hope to deal with the problem by statute later on? We will know within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, guerrillas killed 6 US troops with roadside bombs during the past 24 hours.

The Washington Post reports that the Sunni tribal leaders and the remnants of the Baath Party (Jaish Muhammad or Muhammad’s Army) in Ramadi have decided to protect the city’s small Shiite minority from a planned pogrom by the Sunni Salafis allied with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I suspect the issue of protecting the Shiites has crystalized a power dispute in the city between the Salafis and the old tribal/Baath elite. I would not put a lot of hope in the split becoming permanent, since both groups would still cooperate against US troops. I wonder if the rumors of the shelling of a mosque reported by al-Zaman yesterday are Salafi propaganda to cover the fact that Sunnis are fighting each other?

The Washington Post reports that Washington has dramatically lowered its expectations for what is achievable in Iraq– on the political, military and economic fronts.

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