Zalmay Urges Further Revisions of Constitution
Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Government of Massacre
US Bombings Kill 56
The BBC is reporting Wednesday morning that guerrillas fired mortar shells at Shiite worshippers in Kadhimiyah who were going to the shrine of the seventh Imam, Musa al-Kadhim, to commemorate his death. Early reports are that they killed seven and wounded 36.
The guerrillas are attempting to provoke the Shiites to commit violence in turn on Sunni Arabs, in hopes that a civil war will ensue. Such a communal war could make it impossible for the US to remain in Iraq, and impossible for the new government to establish itself, opening the way for a coup by the guerrillas.
The top police officials of the cities of Kirkuk and Baghdad were assassinated on Tuesday. This is not a good sign.
Al-Hayat: U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad held a news conference Tuesday with Sunni politician Adnan Dulaimi, in which he alleged that it was still possible to introduce amendments into the text of the constitution presented to parliament by the drafting committee, before it is voted on in a national referendum on October 15. He said it was up to the Iraqis to discuss whether amendments could still be made.
Shiite politicians on the drafting committee disagreed vehemently with Khalilzad: “Influential Shiite lawmaker Khaled al-Attiyah, a member of the constitution drafting committee, insisted Tuesday that “no changes are allowed” to the draft “except for minor edits for the language.”
Dulaimi himself renewed his rejection of the constitution as presented, saying it did not reflect the aspirations of the Iraqi people. He said the Sunni Arabs would make every effort to see that it went down to defeat in the referendum. He also called for the dismissal of the Minister of the Interior [something like our director of the FBI], Bayan Jabr, because of his political affiliations (he is a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq). He alleged that the police commandos of the interior ministry were led by “political parties” (i.e. SCIRI). He also accused these security forces of committing massacres against the Sunni Arabs. Khalilzad stood there at the podium while Dulaimi made these serious accusations against the government to which Khalilzad is an envoy.
This event is truly extraordinary, and I am afraid that it does not reflect well on the job Khalilzad is doing in Baghdad.
What would Americans think about it if the British ambassador in Washington held a joint press conference with an American politician; if the ambassador alleged that the US constitution could be tinkered with by himself, Bush and Hilary Clinton; and stood there while that politician accused Attorney General Alberto Gonzales of having 36 political enemies kidnapped and shot in the head?
Dulaimi had been the head of the Sunni Pious Endowments Board, a governmental body that oversees the religioius properties of Sunnis in Iraq. He became too outspoken for the elected government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shiite, so Jaafari summarily dismissed him in July. In the Saddam period, Sunnis appointed the members of the Shiite pious endowments board, so I suppose it was delicious for Jaafari to put the shoe on the other foot. All this is to say that Dulaimi’s objectivity could possibly be compromised.
Al-Jazeera reported pro-constitution demonstrations by Shiite followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Tuesday. (One big risk of Khalilzad’s tampering is that if he does succeed in removing the clause that says that parliament may not pass civil legislation contrary to Islamic law [not “rules” or “standards” as the wire service translations have it, but “Law”]– then Sistani may turn against the constitution. If he ordered the Shiites to reject it, they would, to a person.
Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawir, the highest-ranking Sunni politician in Iraq, has criticized the new constitution and warned that it could strengthen ethnic sub-nationalism. He said he has not decided yet whether to ask his own supporters to oppose it in the October 15 referendum.
The official spokesman for the (Sunni) National Dialogue Council, Salih Mutlak, revealed efforts to form a united front to fight the constitution, which would include the nationalist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He said, “We are trying to meet with all those who oppose federalism, since the issue cannot be considered solely a Sunni one. It concerns all, including the Shiites who do not want to see Iraq partitioned.”
The more secular-leaning politicians in parliament began a new drive to form a secular front, in an attempt to bring down the Shiite religious parties that dominate the government, charging that they had “failed to fulfill the aspirations of the citizens.”
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari criticized the Arab League for having neglected Iraq. (The Arab League consists mainly of Sunni Arab nationalists, many of whom had a soft spot for the Iraqi Baath Party. Behind the scenes, Arab League member governments are extremely disturbed that the new constitution does not specify Iraq as an Arab state any more. Many probably blame this development on Iranian, Shiite influence on Dawa and SCIRI, as well as on US/Israeli pressure [Sunni Arab protesters against the constitution in Iraq are calling it a “Jewish” constitution because they believe it serves the interests of Israel in breaking up and weakening Iraq].
An source in Iraqi security said Tuesday that US bombardment of houses in the Qaim area had left at least 56 persons dead. The US was attempting to target safe houses used by Monotheism and Holy War, the terrorist organization.
Pepe Escobar explores the influence of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and his Qom context.
Timur Kuran suggests that the theocratic socialist policies of the Shiite Dawa Party are at the root of some of the disputes over the constitution in Iraq.
Al-Sabah: Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rejected the behavior some of his followers in Najaf, who made inappropriate comments to shopkeepers there. He said that these Shiites were brethren of his followers and should be treated well. He went on to criticize the governor of Najaf for failing properly to provide security to the shrine of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. The governor belongs to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a party that is rival to the Sadrists.
Iraqis are still suffering from severe power shortages.
The general in charge of the US Air Force says that he expects US warplanes to remain in Iraq even after the ground forces are withdrawn.