Grand Ayatollahs Urge Yes Vote Sunni

Grand Ayatollahs urge “Yes” Vote
Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party attacked Over its acceptance of Constitution

Guerrillas managed to launch a few attacks on Wednesday and Thursday as the country began being locked down and cut off from the outside world in preparation for the referendum on Saturday. Mortar fire wounded 8 policemen in Sunni Adhamiyah in Baghdad. There was a car bombing in Mosul. Two Turkmen party officials were abducted in the north (there is danger of Kurdish/ Turkmen violence, which could bring in Turkey).

Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that gunmen killed Shaikh Muhammad Husain al-Asadi, a key aide of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, in southern Baghdad late Wednesday. There have been assassinations or attempted assassinations of a number of Sistani’s lieutenants.

Al-Hayat: The four grand ayatollahs in Najaf are said to have issued a joint fatwa or legal ruling instructing all their Shiite followers to vote “yes” on the constitution, which they consider “an important step that prepares the way for the stability of the country and the protection of its children from violence and terrorism.”

Maverick Ayatollah Muhammad Mahdi al-Khalisi urged a no vote on the constitution, saying to approve it would be to bow to foreign pressure concerning a charter that would lead to the partition of the country.

The young Shiite nationalist, Muqtada al-Sadr, advised his followers to consult the ruling of Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri (resident in Qom, Iran) concerning how to deal with the constitution. He said that this was an issue that required independent juridical reasoning (ijtihad). [Such issues have to be decided by a trained religious jurisprudent, or mujtahid, and the more eminent mujtahids are ayatollahs or grand ayatollahs. Muqtada has not reached that level.]

Muhsin Abdul Hamid of the Iraqi Islamic Party was slammed for urging a “yes” vote among Sunnis on the constitution. The hardline Association of Muslim Scholars accused him of condoning the foreign military occupation of Iraq. IIP party workers were attack in Mosul on Thursday.

Among the changes in the constitution was an article that held former Baath Party members harmless for merely having joined the party. They will have full rights under the law as long as they did not commit any crime. There will also be parliamentary monitoring of the de-baathification commission. That this sort of change was persuasive for the Iraqi Islamic Party, which has special roots in Mosul, may suggest that it has the support of ex-Baathists in that city and that this constitutency might be in part mollified by this rule.

The amendments also provide for parliament to be able to amend the constitution by a simple majority, though the emendment would have to be approved in a popular referencdum.

It is very bad for a simple majority to be able to amend the constitution. I hate to think what bonehead laws we would have in this country if such a law existed.

These “amendments” were not formally voted in by the parliament, so it is hard to see who authorized these last-minute changes to the constitution.

Former secretary of defense Melvin Laird argues that US troops can be drawn dawn even while Iraq troops are being trained.

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