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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 04 BAGHDAD 004010

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,
FEDERALISM, SOVEREIGNTY, FOREIGN RELATIONS; BAGHDAD

SUMMARY: Discussion on the Constitution, Iraqi Sovereignty,
Federalism, and Foreign Relations were the major editorial
themes of the daily newspapers on September 27, 2005. END
SUMMARY.

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

A. "On the Brink of the Referendum" (Al-Bayyan, 9/27)
B. "Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq" (Asharq Al-Awsat, 9/27)
C. "The Constitution . Gateway to Rule of Law" (Al-Ittihad,
9/27)
D. "As Far As Alternatives Go." (Az-Zaman, 9/27)
E. "The Constitution and Federalism" (Al-Dawa, 9/27)
F. "Silent Regimes and Passive Watchers" (Al-Adala, 9/27)

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

A. "On the Brink of the Referendum"
(Al-Bayyan, affiliated with Islamic Ad-Dawa party led by
Ibrahim Al-Ja'afari, published this front-page unattributed
editorial)

"The referendum will be held within the few next weeks and
we have to make use of the interim time by increasing
interaction with people through conferences and forums in
all provinces to ensure adequate education about this
process. It is very important to educate people about the
referendum so that they understand the basis for rejecting
or approving the constitution. Religious authorities have
endorsed the current draft constitution and this will
encourage the passage of this draft. At the same time, many
political groups across the spectrum have supported it. But,
the most important facet is citizen awareness about the
importance of this document. I think National Assembly
members, and in particular Constitutional Committee Members,
must be responsible for this mission.

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"They know how the constitution was drafted and for this
reason they must make use of the short time left to hold
meetings with people and explain to them why they should
vote "Yes" to the constitution. There are a few groups
(working behind the scenes) trying to exploit media outlets
to obfuscate the constitutional process. In fact, we do not
oppose those groups because they have right to freely
express their opinions about the constitution. However, they
should not turn people against the constitution by using
futile excuses and insufficient proof as a way to convince
some groups that the current constitution does not satisfy
their ambitions. It is immoral to use deception and
accusations to obscure the truth so that they can achieve
two-thirds of the votes required to reject the constitution.

"We just want to know why those groups want to thwart the
constitutional process. The constitution is important
because it is a document that has the consensus of a whole
spectrum of Iraq's people. Any delay in the referendum will
take the country backwards and this will not benefit anyone
in Iraq. Any interruption in this process will prolong the
coalition forces' presence in Iraq. For all these reasons,
we have to work hard and seize the opportunity today to take
the most important step in Iraq's history."

B. "Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq"
(Asharq Al-Awsat, independent, London-based, Saudi-owned,
published this page-nine editorial by Abdul Rahman Al-
Rashed)

"Usually, the Saudi Foreign Minister is not so easily
angered but he couldn't tolerate the imbalance of Iran's
infiltration in the south of Iraq. This infiltration
threatens the whole region and may ignite a war that lasts
for twenty years. In fact, the Iranians are interfering in
Iraq because there has been no Arab presence in Iraq since
the downfall of Saddam's regime. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have
avoided establishing representation in Iraq as long as the
Americans are here. As a result, Iran has intervened in
Iraqi affairs to affect Iraq's religious establishment and
due to the importance of Iraq's oil wealth. Iran's sudden
affection for Iraq was also facilitated by disengagement
from the Gulf States and Egypt's dismissal of interests in
Iraq.

"Unfortunately, most Arabs who are interested in Iraqi
affairs are busy speaking about the occupation. They haven't
taken into consideration the fact that American forces will
leave at some point during the next three years. This
neglect will automatically lead to Iranian dominance in Iraq
because it is the most powerful country in the region.
Moreover, the extended presence of the U.S. in Iraq will
lead radical Shiite groups to clash with the Americans, in
addition to the Sunni extremist groups that are presently
fighting them. I think that Iran is making a big mistake by
attempting to control important parts of Iraq or to call for
separation or the federal division of the country. In the
end, this will lead to new wars.

"But, we must distinguish between radical Sunni calls that
reject federalism and the positive call for federal
experiments in Iraq; the federal system is not as bad as
Sunni extremists claim. It is impractical to link all of
Iraq's affairs with Baghdad because this policy is contrary
to international standards that aim to reduce bureaucracies
and engage regions. On the other hand, federalism means that
Iraq is divided into 18 provinces that all meet together in
the parliament-a model of which happened during the last
elections.

"Federalism allows Iraqi territories to enjoy their own
interests without any concerns of separation and it gives
the majority the most votes inside the parliament while at
the same time not marginalizing the rights of minorities.
[Despite that] the proposed system of federalism in the
Iraqi constitution represents a dangerous division for the
country that will divide Iraq into small countries that will
fight with each other for years. Iraq's new crisis requires
that none of Iraq's neighbors foment radical Shiite or Sunni
elements within the country. In addition, they must not be
involved in the battle of statements that often lead to
disastrous policies."

C. "The Constitution . Gateway to Rule of Law"
(Al-Ittihad - affiliated with PUK, pro-coalition, published
this page-three editorial by Abdul Hadi Mahdi)

"All concerned political parties, and other Iraqi movements
including those who oppose the draft constitution, are
preparing for the coming referendum process. On both sides,
this is the significant feature of a new democratic and free
Iraq--depending on what their reasons are, all sides express
their own points of view peacefully and freely.

"This is an internal Iraqi affair, foreigners from outside
Iraq have no right to interfere or to express their own
opinions about the draft constitution or to claim that they
are representing a certain Iraqi group. Actually, we have
passed the most critical and decisive stage--drafting the
Iraqi constitution and we have overcome complicated
challenges facing our great Iraq. Iraqi sects: Kurds, Arabs,
Shi'a and Sunni are united to face challenges from those who
want to harm Iraq.

"Recently, several statements have been released declaring
that there is a fear that Iraq might be divided and we
wonder if the timing for such statements was a coincidence;
released in a decisive moment in Iraqi's lives when we are
preparing for the coming referendum. All those claiming the
right to express their fears for Iraq have been silent for
two years now watching Iraqis paying with their blood as a
price for determining their democratic future. Iraqis are
ready to decide their future by saying yes to the
constitution in the coming referendum and then they will
open closed doors to a prosperous future in a state replete
with laws and institutions.

"Accepting or rejecting the constitution is not the end of
the road for Iraqis, we can amend disputed articles in the
constitution and we can have dialogue with the opposition.
Still, all Iraqi efforts to change the constitution for the
better will be a decisive decision. As our president
Talabani said, `Only the holy Qur'an cannot be changed but
we can change all other things.' It is our permanent
constitution but we can always change its articles for the
better and it is better to have this national compact than
to have nothing to define our Iraqi future. In the upcoming
referendum Iraqis will decide their future."

D. "As Far As Alternatives Go."
(Az-Zaman, independent, anti-coalition published this back-
page column by Fateh Abdul Salam)
"Iraqis have the right to know what is going on in Iraq. A
few days ago President Bush said that he expects the worst
with regard to the security situation (could it be worse?);
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he never expected
violence to reach its current level; and France (a country
not involved in the war) said it intends to host an
international conference to save Iraq from impending
division.

"I do not want to get into the causes of these catastrophic
results-they begin and end with the blind occupation, but I
do want to ask about the alternatives available to
Washington and question whether political achievements are
possible in a country where America can do anything
militarily.

"Many Iraqi politicians continue to turn a blind eye to the
realities of this third year of the new era, realities which
differ from those three years ago. There is a whole new
power structure in Iraq, with an additional center of power
in the Green Zone. Crises have been created and proposals
have failed to bring complete and final solutions. The U.S.
presence will not lead Iraq to stability, nor will its
withdrawal guarantee the country will survive the influence
of neighboring powers. Do those individuals who deliver
statements on television sense the seriousness of the
situation in Iraq?

"Iraq is in a very critical situation, and available options
are complex, despite attempts to simplify them."

E. "The Constitution and Federalism"
(Al-Dawa newspaper, no bias, affiliated with the Al-Dawa
movement, published this page-seven editorial by Hussein Al-
Jabiry)

"People around the world are competing to build and help
their countries prosper, but when Iraqis decided to hold an
election in order to form a Transitional National Assembly
and government, an Iraqi group objected to holding elections
justifying their stance by claiming difficult security
conditions. The elections happened with wide participation
in spite of the bad security situation and threats which
were widely disseminated by the media and even some
ministers within the former government.
Elections succeeded, every one witnessed that success
including the United Nations but objectors questioned the
legitimacy of the elections and justified that by saying:
`it doesn't represent all Iraqi sects.'

"Iraq succeeded in the draft constitution process and formed
a committee comprised of all sects, even those who didn't
participate in the elections-but those who objected to the
elections opposed certain items which the majority of the
committee agreed upon. The objectors opposed the article
referring to Iraq's Arab identity, in spite of the fact that
many Arab constitutions lack this and Iraq is a country of
multiple ethnicities. They objected to federalism and
justified it by saying it would divide Iraq even though
federalism unites the country, preserves its natural
resources and puts the Ministries of Defense and Foreign
Affairs under the umbrella of the central government.

"The aim of the objectors is clear: they object to any
endeavor that others have to rebuild the new Iraq. This
situation reminds us of a popular tale: One day an Iraqi man
married a foreign woman who was opposed to the relatives
within his household. When they asked for certain kinds of
food, she cooked food they couldn't stand until they
discovered a solution-they asked her to cook food they
didn't like and their goal was accomplished."

F. "Silent Regimes and Passive Watchers"
(Al-Adala, no bias, affiliated with SCIRI led by Abdul Aziz
Al-Hakim, published this last-page column by Hamza Shamkhy)

"Regimes are silent and people are passively watching the
terrorism and destruction that is happening daily in Iraq.
Unfortunately, the entire world pays no attention, just to
those who raise empty slogans (of Jihad), liberating Iraq
from the occupation, and demanding the Iraqi people fight
(the occupation) even if this fight results in the Iraqi
people destroying their country.

"But at the same time we find the Palestinians, the Golan
Heights, and the Shebaa Farms representing land under
occupation--there are many military and security bases and
foreigners occupying their land, so why don't they liberate
their land first and attack these bases instead of coming to
Iraq? Actually, Iraqi people comprehend their own issues,
and no one has the right to turn our home into a place for
terrorism, crime and corruption.

"They were supposed to lend assistance and support to Iraq,
to help it in its time of need, but unfortunately they
prefer silence and to passively watch Iraqis who are facing
terrorism, chaos, crime and destruction. In spite of that we
hear them rant and label the terrorism against Iraqis as
`resistance to the occupation' and failing to (respectfully)
label our dead as `martyrs.' We hear their sounds that
advocate different kinds of terrorism, but we find their
silence when it comes to Iraqi blood that is shed daily.
What kind of a puzzle is this? What kind of world is this?
The only thing that we can say is: silent regimes and
passive watchers."

KHALILZAD

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