Friday, August 26, 2005

Iraq: Constitution , the latest at a glance

Some questions and answers about the effort: for those that wish to understand what exactly is going on.....

Q: What is the status of the constitution? Wasn't there a deadline Thursday?

A: Shiite and Kurdish parties presented a draft constitution to parliament this week but decided to postpone a vote on it for three days, until midnight Thursday, to make another pitch for support from Sunni Arabs. But parliament didn't meet before the deadline, underlining the deep differences that remain. Parliament speaker Hajim al-Hassani said talks would continue Friday in an attempt to find a compromise.

Q: Why don't the Sunnis support the draft constitution?

A: The main issue is federalism. Under the draft, Shiites in the south and Kurds in the north would each be able to organize themselves into oil-rich regions that would have considerable power over the central government. The Sunni Arab minority, concentrated in central and western Iraq, fears that means they will be squeezed out of oil revenues. While the Sunnis accept a Kurdish autonomous region, they fear a Shiite region will lead to the breakup of the country, domination from overwhelmingly Shiite Iran and a weakened central government.

Q: So what happens next?

A: The Iraqis say reaching agreement is more important than meeting deadlines, and talks could go past Friday. But Shiite leaders appear to be losing patience. Senior Shiite negotiator Ali Dabbagh said the Shiite alliance in parliament will resist any changes to the draft. The Shiites want to skip a vote in parliament and instead put the draft, as is, directly to an Oct. 15 referendum required by law.

Q: What's the significance of not holding a vote in parliament first?

A: Parliament is dominated by Shiites and Kurds so the draft would pass — but the vote would make embarrassingly clear the differences with the Sunnis. Sunni leaders, however, say a vote is required and feel that skipping it is just another sign of Shiites and Kurds running roughshod over Sunnis. Thursday night, Sunni leaders already were calling for voters to reject the draft in the referendum. The parliament speaker said a vote is not required by law.

Q: Is the draft likely to pass the Oct. 15 referendum?

A: It depends how vehement Sunni Arab opposition is. A simple majority of voters can ratify the constitution — and Shiites easily make up a majority, especially if backed by Kurds. But there's a hitch: If two-thirds of voters in any three provinces reject the draft, then it fails no matter what the overall vote. So if Sunnis can rally enough "no" votes in the provinces they dominate, then they can defeat it. They may have help from radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who has called on his followers to vote against the draft. Though Shiite, al-Sadr opposes the draft, feeling it will lead to the splintering of Iraq. Changes still could be made in the draft before the referendum in an attempt to ease opposition.

Q: What happens if voters reject the constitution?

A: Under the interim constitution, parliament will be dissolved and elections held by Dec. 15 to form a new one. The new parliament then starts drafting a new constitution "within a period not to exceed one year." That would significantly delay Iraq's political process at a time when Washington and many Iraqis feel political progress is vital to reducing support for the deadly insurgency. It would delay national elections that are supposed to be held in December under a permanent constitution for a new government.

A rejection also would be a setback for U.S. policy. Washington has been pushing hard for the Iraqis to meet the deadlines for writing the constitutions, only to see them repeatedly missed. Many have hoped that passing a constitution would make Sunnis — who form the backbone of the insurgency — feel included in the political process. But the bruising debate over the draft may have only increased Sunni alienation


Blogger Dionysus said...

Great post H! Thanks for the low-down.

August 26, 2005 1:46 am  
Blogger G_in_AL said...

notice he didnt use my post highlighting the positives of the constitution... now why would that be?

"Good News bad, Bad News good.... Must win the White House!"

August 26, 2005 1:42 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

my post G is not one of 'good news' or bad news but the full factual situation at a glance , it is not based on opinion of left or right (as you seem to see every issue lol) but the real facts on the ground

i fail to see how you could see my piece as political at all , it is not

i have read your piece and it is very good but it does make assumptions , i often make assumptions too , but this piece does not , it presents all the issues and all the possible solutions

August 26, 2005 6:56 pm  
Blogger G_in_AL said...

yours was fine H, I was taking a Crack at Dion. I commented on his site in one of the "Rove" posts that Rove should go to jail, but why didnt didnt he ever post anything about Sandy Berger or other Dems that violated national secuirty in much worse ways. He emailed me, ask me to find him some information... but no post yet. Still waiting.

August 26, 2005 11:05 pm  

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