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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraqi Government, Constitution, Tal

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 003806

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, TAL
AFAR; BAGHDAD

SUMMARY: Discussion on the Constitution and Terrorism were
the major editorial themes of the daily newspapers on
September 14, 2005. END SUMMARY.

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

A. "Why Do They Insist on Destroying Tal Afar?" (Al-Basa'er,
9/14)
B. "The Islamic Emirate of Al-Qa'im" (Al-Bayyan, 9/14)
C. "Who Are the Iraqis Who Will Ratify the Constitution?"
(Al-Ittihad, 9/14)
D. "On Tal Afar" (Al-Sabah al-Jadeed, 9/14)
E. "The Constitution and Other Crises" (Al-Ittihad, 9/14)

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

A. "Why Do They Insist on Destroying Tal Afar?"
(Al-Basa'er, weekly, affiliated with the Muslim Scholars
Association, anti coalition, published this front-page
unattributed editorial)

"The city of Tal Afar was well-known for its patriotism and
sacrifice in defending Iraq's values and homeland; this city
was one of the first to resist British occupation and its
citizens were able to liberate their city after a severe
battle with the enemy. Today, this city again resists the
British and the American occupation of Iraq and has since
the beginning of the war. Tal Afar has caused the occupation
forces to suffer huge losses.

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"However, there are some citizens who stood with the
occupation forces against their own people. There were many
initiatives by different groups wanting to solve problems
that arouse among the citizens of Tal Afar but these
attempts were thwarted by known political groups who claimed
that what was happening in Tal Afar was terrorism.

"These groups deliberately inflamed the crisis and in the
end, a misguided attack was waged against this city by the
occupation forces in cooperation with an elected Iraqi
government. This government, like the former government,
gave the green light to the occupation forces to attack and
destroy the city of Fallujah. They attacked Tal Afar in
order to satiate their hatred and bring an end to the brave
resistance of its citizens. These acts will never affect the
honest and patriotic Iraqis who will continue their jihad to
defeat and destroy evil and force the occupation out of
Iraq."

B. "The Islamic Emirate of Al-Qa'im"
(Al-Bayyan, affiliated with the Islamic Al-Dawa Party led by
Al-Ja'afari, published a third-page column by Salim Rasoul)

"Terrorists have established a new Taliban like emirate in
the city of Al-Qa'im and they have named it the Islamic
Emirate of Al-Qa'im. They believe that this emirate is the
first step in establishing a great Islamic emirate in Iraq
led by the emir of the believers Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. The
terrorists who were arrested during the military operations
in Tal Afar announced that they celebrated the establishment
of their emirate by beheading everyone in the city of Al-
Qa'im who opposed them.

"We know that the terrorist ideology of Al-Qaeda in Iraq is
focused on establishing extremist emirates--we know that
fact very well and the Islamic world knows it too. The fact
is, secular regimes consider radical Islamic emirates to be
a clear and present danger to their existence and they
prevent them from entering their countries. At the same
time, these secular regimes ally themselves with terrorists
and provide them with money, weapons, and material support
to kill Iraqi people.

"Now, after we exposed this supposed emirate will those
regimes continue supporting Zarqawi? We realize that this
emirate is situated near Syria and it's possible that its
borders extend to include Syrian land. The Pan Arab media
reports that the official policy of Arab states is that they
are neutral and don't support Baghdad. Some of these regimes
announce that they support the Iraqi resistance in order to
expel the occupation from Iraq. When we say resistance we
mean the radical Zarqawi movement. Do not blame us if we
distrust the official Arab stance but we formulate our ideas
according to what's published in the Arab media which is
definitely reflective of Arab regimes. What the terrorists
perpetrated in Al-Qa'im is an example of what they want to
implement throughout the world. Those terrorists began in
Iraq and they may expand to neighboring countries.
Therefore, these countries had better support Iraq to
eradicate this destructive ideology."

C. "Who Are the Iraqis Who Will Ratify the Constitution?"
(Al-Ittihad, pro-coalition, affiliated with PUK led by
Talabani, published this page-three editorial by Abdul Hadi
Mahdi)

"When the January 30th elections were announced some bet
they would fail due to the deteriorating security situation
and the lack of skills of the Iraqi police and army at the
time. Many political parties demanded postponement of the
elections until the security situation stabilized though
they gave no guarantees that security would improve. But, on
election day, Iraqis defied predictions when millions of
them turned out en masse and went to the polls in ways that
amazed observers.

"Iraqis did not care about threats to thwart the elections.
After the results were announced, some lists received
millions of votes which represented Iraqis. Then, the
National Assembly was established to represent these
millions and a president and his deputies were elected and
the cabinet was elected too. The constitutional committee
was established based on the winning electoral list.

"However, the committee was not established according to
electoral representation but was established according to
national priorities so as not to marginalize any Iraqi sect.
So, another group was added to the constitution drafting
committee and this group represented the brothers who did
not participate in the elections. The millions of Iraqis who
participated in the elections are Iraqi citizens and they
belong to this country.

"But recently we started to hear statements that included
unacceptable expressions revealing mistrust of fellow
Iraqis. The masses of millions will keep moving forward to
vote for the constitution while some of our brothers, who
were added to the constitutional committee, say in their
press conferences that they want a constitution that all
Iraqis agree upon. What this really means is that the people
who did not participate in the elections are the only
Iraqis. We hope that those people will use the right words
to unite the Iraqi people."

D. "On Tal Afar"
(Al-Sabah al-Jadeed, independent, published this front-page
editorial by Ismaeel Zayyer)

"Our enemies have begun lamenting the victory of Iraqis'
will and thus began displaying their hatred towards the new
Iraq. We all listened to the announcement of the Minister of
Defense, Dr. Sa'doun Al-Dulaimi, and the Minister of
Interior, Mr. Bakr Jabr, about how the security forces
killed 157 and detained more than 200 terrorists while the
Iraqi Army suffered less than four causalities. These
figures show the government's well-organized and firm policy
against terrorism. The causalities of the enemy were fifty
times that of the Iraqi Army in the Tal Afar military
operation.

"I watched the enemies' report on Tal Afar and I noticed
that they were talking about Iraqi Army causalities and
ignored terrorist losses. They continued publishing fake
stories on "Tal Afar and how its citizens resisted. Jawad Al-
Khalesi's office stated that the Tal Afar operation's main
goal was to refute dialogue with the Sunnis. Moreover, both
the Muslim Scholars Association and Adnan Al-Dulaimi spoke
about similar stories.

"Frankly, this is wrong and it's one of the biggest mistakes
of the Sunni association. No one in Iraq will believe that
they are telling the truth and they will never be able to
prove those claims. Furthermore, they claimed that the
displaced families in Tal Afar would exact revenge upon the
Sunnis when they return to their city but this contradicts
values, religion and patriotism. First of all, Sunni
political groups such as the Muslim Scholars Association
should not endeavor to harm people who belong to other
sects. In fact, their duty is to fight Sudanese, Syrians,
and Saudis who have entered the country to behead and loot.
Where were those who weep for national unity today when
Zarqawi turned Tal Afar into 18 weapons caches? Where were
they when terrorists intimidated the city? Now, we want to
ask the tribes of Rabee'a in northwestern Iraq what they did
to stop the terrorism that is coming from outside of Iraq's
borders."
E. "The Constitution and Other Crises"
(Al-Ittihad newspaper, affiliated with the PUK led by Jalal
Talabani, published this page-five editorial by Editor-in-
chief Fryad Rawandouzi)

"It seems that the constitutional crisis has not ended
because Sunnis have not agreed to the proposed draft and
there are new requests from an influential Shi'a movement
[i.e. al-Ja'afari's party] to re-review the draft and hold
further discussions-under the pretext that the earlier draft
was cooked up in the constitutional kitchen (under the
auspices of party leaders) and not the constitutional
committee.

"It is illogical to have the constitutional committee sit
for another session when they could hardly reach agreement
on the final draft. But this committee should meet again to
look at the amendments, which have sought to minimize the
differences to the constitution without altering its
intrinsic principals.

"The most dangerous step likely to occur in the lead-up to
October 15 is yet another request to amend the draft
constitution; for any such request will lead not only to the
destruction of the document but also to a ministerial crisis
and the dissolution of the National Assembly. All members of
the constitutional committee were dismayed and shocked by
the strange request to review the draft document again.

"Is it possible to overcome existing obstacles? The
amendments regarding water resources, the identity of Iraq,
and international conventions should not be barriers to the
constitution-all doors should remain open. It is not wise to
sacrifice what we've reached thus far. The constitution will
not satisfy all parties but it will satisfy the needs of the
majority.

"Accordingly, we should not return to square one and destroy
what we've built. The only way forward is a return to
dialogue before it is too late."

SATTERFIELD

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