Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Iraq Update—Three More Days

The Iraqi delegates have submitted their draft constitution to the parliament, but a vote on the constitution has been delayed three days in an attempt garner additional support for the controversial document. The Sunni delegation is unhappy with significant provisions of the new constitution.

The constitution as written would formalize and broaden the autonomy enjoyed by the Kurdish north since creation of a U.S.-protected "no-fly" zone following the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

The charter's definition of Iraq as a federal union also would clear the way for a southern Shiite state made up of as many as half of Iraq's 18 provinces, negotiators said. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite religious party that is the country's strongest political bloc and that has strong ties to neighboring Iran, called for such a sub-state this month.

Sunnis fear they would be left with an impoverished, weakened state in the west and center.

Negotiators said Monday that the draft would put Iraq's existing oil production under control of the central government. But control of new oil production would go to the south and north, where the oil is produced, meaning revenue for the central government, and Sunnis, would likely ebb within a few years.
It’s unlikely that the three day extension will result in any significant changes to the draft document. And while it remains unclear what will happen if the draft constitution is signed into law, one Sunni delegate predicted that "The streets will rise up."

Meanwhile, the Bush administration continues to march along to the beat of its ever-optimistic drummer:

"We welcome today's development as another step forward in Iraq's constitutional process," said a White House statement. "The progress made over the past week has been impressive."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also praised the Iraqis in a statement for their "statesmanlike decision" to use three more days to build a national consensus.
Are we reading the same headlines?

--Matthew McCoy