5 US Troops Killed in Sweep of West
Sunnis threaten Boycott on new Constitution
Five US soldiers have been killed by bombings and a sniper since Monday, in the course of a US sweep of western border towns. About 1250 Iraqi troops and 1250 American troops have attacked the towns, which had been bases for the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement.
Most of the fighters, however, had slipped away before the US/Iraqi force could assert itself in the cities. Al-Zaman alleged that most of the inhabitants of Sadah (pop. 2000) had fled over the border to Syria.
Sunni Arab leaders on Tuesday threatened to boycott the October 15 referendum on the constitution if a rule passed by parliament is allowed to stand. The interim constitution states that the constitution will be rejected if three provinces vote against it by a 2/3s margin. Parliament has now said that it must be a “no” vote by 2/3s of eligible voters in each of 3 provinces. The original understanding was that the 2/3s referred to 2/3s of actual voters going to the polls. This second interpretation might have allowed the Sunni Arabs to get a 2/3s majority against the constitution in 3 provinces.
Iraqi and international poll monitors immediately rejected the action of the parliament. They insisted that in international law, a voter is defined as someone who actually goes to the polls and votes.
The Sunni Arabs are fuming at the Shiites and Kurds for having attempted to curtail their soveriegnty.
The FT explains how Bush’s Iraq has led to increased Sunni-Shiite tensions throughout the Oil Gulf.
Will blog more later Weds.
BBC World Monitoring of Iraqi Press highlights for Oct. 3:
‘Al-Mashriq publishes on the front page a 230-word report citing a prominent member of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, confirming the cancellation of de-Ba’thification and the return of the former Iraqi Army to bring stability and security to Iraq. . . . [This doesn’t sound at all reliable to me- JRIC] . . .
Al-Manarah on 2 October carries on page 4 a 100-word report citing an official source at Al-Najaf Health Directorate as saying that a Korean company will construct a 180-bed hospital at a cost of 50m dollars in the governorate.
Al-Manarah on 2 October carries on page 4 a 120-word report citing Al-Muthanna Health Director Dr Falih Abd-al-Hasan announcing the signing of an 8m dollars contract for the supply of modern medical equipment.
Al-Manarah on 2 October publishes on page 4 a 250-word report on the discovery of a new mass grave containing hundreds of bodies in Al-Samawah. . .’