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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 003696

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 8,
2005. END SUMMARY.

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

A. "Counterfeit Media" (Al-Ittihad, 9/8)
B. "The Sect's Constitution" (As-Sabah al-Jadeed, 9/8)
C. "The Constitution and the Story of Yes and No" (Az-Zaman,
9/8)
D. "Advancement and Deception" (Al-Adala, 9/8)
E. "On Debathification" (Ad-Dawa, 9/8)
---------------------------------------
SELECTED COMMENTARIES
---------------------------------------

A. "Counterfeit Media"
(Al-Ittihad, affiliated with PUK, published this page-four
editorial by Abdul Mun'im Al-Assam)

"Of recent, Pan-Arab media outlets have started to pay more
attention to the Iraqi constitution. As an illustration, in
one day, three Pan-Arab satellite channels reported that a
state-owned Gulf paper said that the Kurds (in the
constitution) do not want to be committed to Islam and
according to one paper, the Kurds oppose Islam as the
official religion of the government. Newspapers throughout
the region started to pick up on the story during the last
week reporting that the Kurds have been causing tensions to
rise.

"A Jordanian paper wrote that the Kurds have insisted on
eradicating Arabs while another Gulf state paper claimed
that the Kurds have demanded eliminating Islam as a religion
for Iraqis. In addition, a Turkish paper opined that the
Kurds want to ensure, in the constitution, their right to
secede . It is bizarre that none of those papers or channels
referred to Kurdish leaders' confirmations about reaching
consensus and compromise in the draft constitution.

"These media outlets did not report that President Talabani
said that the Kurds are committed to establishing a
pluralist Iraq; in spite of false news reports such as the
Washington Post's erroneous report that said the Kurds
kidnap Arabs and Turkmen and send them to prisons in
northern Iraq. The Pan Arab media keeps attacking Kurds. A
newspaper in a neighboring country published an article
saying that all Iraqis, except the Kurds, are determined to
maintain their country's unity. This newspaper also says
that all Iraqis, except for the Kurds, want to prevent civil
war. In addition, the same paper reported that all Iraqis,
again except for the Kurds, support a consensual and united
constitution for Iraq. This biased newspaper has turned all
of the facts upside down but everyone knows that lies are
very transparent in this paper."

B. "The Sect's Constitution"
As-Sabah al-Jadeed, independent, published this back page
editorial by Hassan Al-Ani:

"The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds together are responsible for
the complexities and drama that accompanied the drafting of
the constitution. The problem is that all politicians and
negotiators regard themselves as representing only their own
sects and ethnic groups rather than representing the whole
country. The Sunnis think that they are the only group that
is insistent about maintaining Iraq's unity. They speak
about unity as though Iraq was a country only for Sunnis--
they think that the Kurds and Shiites do not care about
unity and are ready to divide the country.

"On the other hand, the Shiites keep saying that they are
the majority and the Sunnis must be grateful to the Shiites
for letting them participate in drafting the constitution.
Thus, the Shiites believe that their majority entitles them
to draft Iraq's future. The Kurds look at both the Shiites
and Sunnis as Arabs and think that every Arab reminds them
of Saddam. At the same time, the Shiites and Sunnis are
afraid of the Kurds because the Kurds may benefit from the
current situation and prepare for secession. In the
meantime, most Iraqis have nothing to do with the obsession
and fears of those political parties. The Iraqi people are
united and they will always be unified. Shiites, Sunnis and
Kurds do not care about ethnic power sharing, majorities, or
minorities when a disaster afflicts a specific sect. I think
that our problems are exacerbated by those who are
responsible for drafting the constitution because they want
to make it a constitution for Shiites, Kurds or Sunnis
rather than a constitution for all Iraqis."

C. "The Constitution and the Story of Yes and No"
(Az-Zaman, independent, recently anti-coalition, published
this page-four editorial by Hamza Mustafa)

"When Iraqis had their first democratic election on January
30, 2005, they faced serious hurdles erected by religious
heroes who encouraged voting but claQed through their
fatwas that voting for a specific list was a holy duty and
not a democratic right. In the opposite camp clerical fatwas
were proclaimed demanding a boycott of the elections
because, they said, it was against that which is holy and
sacred and participating in the electoral process meant
condemnation in hell.

"Belief in such fatwas is largely irrelevant but it is very
important to understand that this is a secular matter that
has nothing to do with religion or heaven or hell; twisted
interpretations through religious statements only
complicates matters. Educational programs on the referendum
process help to supplement our lack of political experience
and we don't want to have religious polarization telling us
`yes' or `no.'

"Our goal is to see that honorable clerics refrain from
involvement in the political process to prevent failure
during the negotiation process. At the same time our
national political negotiators who claim to support
democracy, secularism, and the principles of the French
revolution and of Martin Luther King's struggles, should not
use religion (or the clerics) to achieve their goals. They
have material means (i.e. access, wealth, property, and
security) while honorable clerics have nothing but their
good reputation among their followers. It seems that our
politicians are trying to make use of religious authorities
after they had lost the trust of the Iraqi people since the
people's allegiance is to the clerics."

D. "Advancement and Deception"
(Al-Adala, affiliated with SCIRI led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim,
published this page-three column by Dr. Ali Khalif)

"Many governmental and ministerial decisions have been made,
but the commendations are few. Few segments of Iraqis
complain or whine to minimize their own suffering. One of
the funny things is that the Ministry of Oil decided to
establish a mechanism for distributing fuel to the people
which involved coordinating fuel distribution according to
vehicle numbers (odd and even). Some people weren't
satisfied with the system, so the ministry canceled its
plans and then launched new ones which met with similar
public scorn. So, I am wondering, what is it that satisfies
the populace?

"Unfortunately, people have started to put personal
interests ahead of public ones in dealing with the daily
issues. Some elements of the media focus on the small
segments of society that are negatively affected by new laws
or regulations, trying to show that all Iraqis are
dissatisfied. The government has enacted many beneficial
laws and made social and economic progress by raising
pensions, providing jobs for advanced degree holders, and
solving the issues of many former employees from the
dissolved Ministry of Information, as well as other issues
the media failed to cover. It seems that media outlets are
focusing only on the negative.

"If there are criticisms, it's fine to address them but
demands should take into consideration the difficult
circumstances the government is dealing with. The strange
thing is the blatant and misleading attempts the media makes
to undermine the government's achievements. So we shouldn't
be surprised when citizens make decisions based on wrong
information. But the prospective view can conclude that
government decisions are right.

"The stranger thing is that is that there are some
professional people who do not understand this. If we leave
economic issues behind and move to politics, we can see
examples. Any reasonable mind can comprehend that federalism
is the best system to rebuild the new Iraq, but some media
outlets portray federalism as trying to divide Iraq. There
are many similar issues where the media has played a
sinister role and the Iraqi people should understand that
there are elements of the local and foreign media connected
with followers of the former regime and its fascist
ideology. Those media entities often play host to guests who
share their ideologies and have similar outlooks in analysis
on almost every issue so it's important we realize that and
recognize the decent media that aim to rebuild Iraq and not
destroy it."

E. "On Debathification"
(Ad-Dawa newspaper, affiliated with the Ad-Dawa movement in
Iraq led by Abdul Kareem Al-Anzi, published this page-six
column by Walid Hussein)

"I heard a story about a Ba'athist who strongly believed in
the ideology of Ba'ath party, but at the same time rejected
the intrusive activities that Ba'ath members were carrying
out against the Iraqi people. This Ba'athist had been called
on to reorganize the party after the war but he refused
because the party itself rejected pluralism-the same party
that destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq through three
destructive wars and the systematic theft of Saddam's
family.

"The opinions that this Ba'athist expressed were right.
Actually, they were part of the rationale for
debathification but unfortunately we still find corrupt
Ba'athists which the party fired or demoted and who are
still holding their former posts. We hope that senior
government officials will take notice of that. Moreover,
there are infiltrations of the debathification committee and
some people were fired from their positions even though the
debathification committee didn't indict them, but were
victimized because of differences of opinion, or personal
interest, or because of an incomplete investigation by the
committee."

SATTERFIELD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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