Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Iraq getting ever closer

Although a draft for Iraq's constitution was submitted by the deadline on Monday, an additional three days have been given to iron out "pending differences".

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the three major issues blocking a deal were federalism, purging Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and whether some of the officers of the assembly should be elected by a majority or two-thirds vote.

If no compromise if reached soon, the committee is likely to sidestep the Sunnis and approve the draft. This is expected to present a problem in October when the Iraqi people are given the chance to vote on the new referendum.

Sunni leaders have threatened to order their followers to vote "no" in the October referendum on the new constitution unless their objections are addressed.

Shiites and Kurds have enough seats in parliament to win approval for a draft without the Sunni Arabs. But the Sunni minority could scuttle the constitution when voters decide whether to ratify it in the October referendum. Under current rules, the constitution would be defeated if it is opposed by two-thirds of the voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces. Sunnis form the majority in at least four.

According to the AP the repeated delays are making our President look bad:

Repeated delays are a deep embarrassment for the Bush administration. Washington had applied enormous pressure on the Iraqis to meet the original Aug. 15 deadline but parliament instead had to grant a week's extension, which they again failed to meet.

This, of course, is nonsense. Iraq is conducting it's first experiment in democracy and it is to be expected that there will be a lot of pushing and tugging on the new constitution before it reaches its final form. It would be a surprise if there weren't delays. Bush briefly addressed this during a recent VFW speech:

'We know this from our own history,'' he said. ''The Constitutional Convention was home to political rivalries and regional disagreements.''

In other words, "Shut up and let this thing play out." We live in an instant-coffee kind of world where any process that takes more than two days is labeled a failure by the press. This seems to be especially true for any undertaking initiated by the current administration. Regardless, the Iraqis will soon get their new constitution and a bold new era will begin in a what was a once very oppressed region.