Friday, August 26, 2005

Oi Vei: Iraq Might Split Three Ways

Majority Shiites have threatened to bypass the National Assembly and box out the minority Sunnis to duck any changes to Iraq's draft constitution. If this proceeds, the constituion will be presented to the Iraqi public on October 15th in a referendum vote. The likelihood that it would be passed doesn't seem good considering only three out of Iraq's 18 provinces have to vote "no."

I'll the let the LA Times explain:
The three-province veto provision in the constitutional referendum rules was originally crafted at the behest of Kurds, who dominate three northern provinces. They feared the constitutional review process could be dominated by Arabs.

But after parliamentary elections in January handed power chiefly to Shiite Arabs and Kurds, the constitutional veto clause has become the last bargaining chip of Sunni Arabs, who make up about 20% of Iraq's population and constitute majorities in at least two provinces. They could be joined in a "no" vote by a group of Shiites loyal to cleric Muqtada Sadr who also oppose key elements of the draft.

"All anyone needs to get is three" provinces, said Hassan Bazzaz, a University of Baghdad political science professor. "It won't be that hard."

Sunni Arab politicians, many of whom boycotted the January parliamentary election, have been urging supporters to register to vote in recent weeks. Some Sunni clerics have ordered worshipers to election centers. According to Iraq's election commission, some of the most active registration centers are in Sunni-dominated areas.

Even before negotiations broke down among drafters of the constitution, representatives for Sunni parties and a coalition of Sadr followers were meeting privately to map out a strategy for rallying a "no" vote in three provinces. Sunnis and Sadr loyalists, who forged ties last year when each battled U.S. troops, share concerns about federalism in the draft constitution.
Hopefully, the Shiites will revive the spirit of compromise necessary to a pluralistic democracy or Iraq's on its way to splintering three-ways.

POSTSCRIPT: Within the NYTs article, America officials said "substantial and real progress" had been made on the impasse by day's end.

We'll see, but I smell the faint aroma of bullshit wafting from that statement.