the Disillusioned kid: Iraq's Founding Fathers?
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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Iraq's Founding Fathers?

It appears that the US government is so desperate for a deal on an Iraqi constitution that they've caved in to the demands of the Islamists who want to see the country ruled according to Sharia law. This is unlikely to go down well with womens' rights activists from the country who have been fiercely critical of proposed drafts of the constitution, although the Bush Administration is dismissive of such conerns. The deal shouldn't really come as a surprise and is consistent with the constitution of the US-installed "Islamic Republic of Afghanistan."

The US may find, however, that even this compromise is insufficient to get the deal they want as Sunni groups complained yesterday that they were being sidelined and warned that they may well reject the document. As if to underscore this point, 5,000 Sunni Arabs rallied in Ramadi to express opposition to the designation of Iraq as a federal state. Supporters of Moqtada Al-Sadr expressed similar concerns in protests in Baghdad, as did Arabs and Turkmen in Kirkuk, within the nominally Kurdish region of Iraq. Even as I write, reports are emerging of calls by Sunni negotiators urging the US and UN to block the proposed draft.

Alongside this wrangling, the violence of the insurgency continues. At least three groups have issued statements saying that they will kill anyone associated with the constitution. That these are not hollow threats was emphasised by two attacks last week. On Friday, masked gunmen murdered three Sunnis in Mosul who had been putting up posters urging fellow Sunnis to vote in a referendum on the new constitution. On Thursday gunmen burst into the Sunni Grand Mosque in Ramadi where a discussion about the constitutional process was taking place demanded that the meeting come to an end and then opened fire.

In other Iraq related news, insurgents continue to improve their ability to strike at occupation forces. Militias, many of them linked to parties participating in the new Iraqi government, wield ever greater power in Shia and Kurdish cities. Meanwhile, the US army is planning to maintain its current presence (over 100,000 troops) in Iraq for at least the next four years.

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