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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraqi Government, Constitution;

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 003638

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, NEA/PPD, NEA/PPA, NEA/AGS, INR/IZ, INR/P

E.0. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO IZ
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: IRAQI GOVERNMENT, CONSTITUTION;
BAGHDAD


SUMMARY: Discussion on the Constitution was the major
editorial theme of the daily newspapers on September 5,
2005. END SUMMARY.

------------------------------
TABLE OF CONTENTS
------------------------------

A. "Unjustifiable Fear" (Al-Bayyan, 9/5)
B. "Preventing Contradictions and Overstatements" (Al-Iraq,
9/5)
C. "Are We Facing A Constitutional Crisis?" (Az-Zaman, 9/5)
D. "Is the Law Better Than the Constitution?" (Al-Adala,
9/5)
E. "The Story of the Guy Othman" (Az-Zaman, 9/4)

---------------------------------------
SELECTED COMMENTARIES
---------------------------------------

A. "Unjustifiable Fear"
(Al-Bayyan, affiliated with the Islamic Ad-Dawa Party led by
Al-Ja'afari, published this page-four column by Zainab Al-
Khafaji)

"Some Arab and other countries have dealt with Iraq's
political process negatively for a variety of reasons;
perhaps, they have a political agenda or goal. The Gulf
Cooperation Council had concerns over the Iraqi
constitution's article that states, `Arab people in Iraq are
part of the Arab nation'. I think that this article was
created because Iraq is composed of multiple ethnic and
religious groups and this article confirms this fact.
Therefore, those countries have no right to be concerned
about this article because Iraq drafted its constitution
according to its domestic political, economic, social,
religious, demographic and geographic considerations. Iraq
did not draft its constitution according to narrow
religious, nationalist or sectarian interests that may
weaken the country's unity. It is unfair for those countries
to think that Iraq's Arabism is endangered by virtue of this
article. In fact, this article strengthens national unity
and solidarity. In addition, this article will ensure
equality of rights and encourage mutual respect among
different Iraqi sects and ethnicities."

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B. "Preventing Contradictions and Overstatements"
(Al-Iraq independent, daily published this front-page
editorial about the constitution)

"We anticipated there would be no harmony in drafting the
constitution and we were afraid that this would lead to a
host of disagreements on many of the constitution's
articles. However, the draft constitution was approved in
spite of continued disagreements among Iraqi politicians
whose conflicting statements on this issue are still in
dispute at this very moment. We've noticed that Iraqi
politicians have held meetings and talks in order to end any
disagreement over the constitution. But, they've been
confounded and unable to reach a solution. As a result, the
contentious issues are still unresolved. Nevertheless, we
think that announcing the completion of the constitution
(even after the deadline) would be a step in the right
direction. Furthermore, we believe that the Iraqi people
will have their final say during the referendum. Indeed, all
we care about is the Iraqi people who endure danger and
crises daily. We have to restructure the new Iraq as soon as
our constitution is announced. All Iraqi people must
participate in the referendum and the upcoming elections.
This is an historic responsibility that we must take part in
and never forget how important it is for all Iraqi sects to
be participants in the political process."

C. "Are We Facing A Constitutional Crisis?"
(Najm Ubaid Abu Al-Hail wrote the following, page-seven
editorial in Az-Zaman, independent, anti coalition about the
constitution)

"The TAL mandated that there must be one committee
responsible for drafting the constitution, and the National
Assembly selected that committee to prepare the drafting of
the constitution. However, there were some issues and
disagreements among the constitutional committee's members
such as federalism, the quota of women's representation and
the role of religion in government. Without a doubt, the
National Assembly is the only authority that can induct
members onto the constitutional committee. In fact, the
government has dealt flexibly with the issue of election
boycotters. But, we see that the UIA (United Iraqi
Alliance), Kurdish alliance and the boycotters insist on
their demands. So, do we face a cul-de-sac? I think that we
are not facing a dead end because the constitutional
committee submitted the constitution to the National
Assembly, which must discuss it and then put it to a vote.
Thus, if the majority of assembly members have one opinion,
it could be approved. I believe that this constitution is
not the final draft because the National Assembly can amend
it anytime. In addition, there will be a referendum which
will be the decisive day for accepting or rejecting the
constitution."

D. "Is the Law Better Than the Constitution?"
(Al-Adala, affiliated with SCIRI, published a page-four
editorial by Ali Khalif about the constitution)

"There are some people in Iraq who pretend to fight
sectarianism while they are the real ones calling for
sectarianism. The Iraqi people opposed the TAL, and there
are some groups that consider it illegal because it was
written under occupation. Other groups had reservations
about it and they hoped that it would be amended in the
future. The Iraqi people were able to hold elections and
establish a National Assembly that established a committee
to draft a constitution for the country; all Iraqis were
represented in the constitutional committee, even those who
boycotted the elections. This constitution will nullify all
Bremer's decisions and thus it will represent the Iraqi
people's willpower. We ask those who reject the new
constitution to think twice about this issue because having
an Iraqi drafted constitution is better than having a law
that is accused of being American. This new constitution can
be amended in the future because a nation that was able to
nullify the TAL and draft a new constitution is able to
amend it. Those, who want to reject the constitution because
some of its articles do not suit them, want to accept the
TAL that was totally rejected by them. This indicates that
we are going to be controlled by an occupation-drafted law
as those who reject the current constitution claim. If they
think that they can win the upcoming elections then we must
wait for the upcoming elections to see if they win or lose.
The constitution must be separate from any attitude that
cannot benefit Iraq's higher interest."

E. "The Story of the Guy Othman"
(Az-Zaman, independent, anti coalition, published this page-
five editorial by Assad al-Hilali about the bridge stampede)

"Why do the hate mongers appeal to and bet on turmoil when
our country and people have millions of Othmans? How can
they believe that they are capable of driving the country
toward civil war when the first ones who came to the rescue
of the Shi'a pilgrims during their disaster were the Sunni
people of Adhamyia who gave their lives to save those whom
they could?

Here is a story from Adhamyia:

Let me tell you the story of Othman, a young good-hearted
guy who lived on the island of Waq Waq and felt depressed
about what was going on in his country and the evil actions
of those intent on dividing it. He listened to what others
were saying about a civil war that might take place between
the different segments of his people who, for a long time,
had been living in peace despite their ethnic and sectarian
differences.

Some of his colleagues thought that Othman might become a
leader of an armed group if civil war broke out, but they
were surprised when they realized that he would become the
leader of a group of young guys from his neighborhood who
desperately struggled to save people who had been exposed to
a disaster of a mass proportions--where hundreds of innocent
women and children died.

Evil people intimidated the victims by spreading rumors. The
government's neglect coupled with the chaos propagated by
the security forces only served to increase the scale of the
disaster resulting in so many deaths. Seditious elements
attempted to poison Othman's mind by trying to delude him
into thinking that the victims were actually his enemies but
Othman dismissed that when he saw bodies fighting death in
the river. He began thinking about them, recognizing their
humanity and their similarities to him. He saw common
features, the same language, and recognized they were the
same as him. He began crying out for help and appealing to
God to save their souls.

Othman remembered that he was a friend to so many of them
and that they shared the same childhood experiences and
playgrounds. So what changed over the last three years to
cause strangers to plant hatred and evil and label some
infidels? Haven't we been friends and brothers for a long
time he thought? This is what he was thinking when he began
saving lives of those drowning the in river-one after
another he saved from inevitable death. He went to save yet
another but this time he couldn't resist being pushed,
pulled, and crushed by the flow and force of the water. The
young Othman felt exhausted but the river was still full of
bodies struggling for life. He started to save the ones who
were still alive and began with the children. He challenged
his numb arms and legs but when he was in the middle of the
river, in deep water, an old man who was trying desperately
to cling to Othman's body (as he swam toward shore) repeated
the words, "La Illah Illa Allah, Muhammad Rasoulu Allah"
(There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet) which
Othman recognized as the testimony Muslims utter when close
to death.

He started watching the stillness of death in the eyes of
the old man, and tried and tried in a last ditch effort to
save this drowning man, but it was useless. The deep waters
countered this effort dragging both of them under--the last
thing they both said was the Shahadah [the testimony].

Evil people can no longer bet on the dissolution of Iraq.
Stories like this from Adhamiya, or about the people of
Fallujah who were among the first to send support to help
save their fellow Iraqis, should serve to remind terrorists
that they should not hinge their bets on dividing members of
one family whose origins both history and time recognize as
the people of Mesopotamia."

(Translator's comment: This seemingly allegorical editorial
is based on the heroic actions of a 25 year-old Iraqi Sunni,
Othman al-Obeidi, who rescued six people (all Shi'a) from
the river during the bridge stampede last week. Mr. Al-
Obeidi was posthumously honored by the Iraqi government,
which bestowed upon him civil servant status entitling his
family to pension benefits. There is currently talk about
erecting a statue to honor his sacrifice and heroism.)

Khalilzad

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