Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraqi Government, Constitution,
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 004075
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 BAGHDAD
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: IRAQI GOVERNMENT, CONSTITUTION,
TERRORISM, ELECTIONS, POLITICAL PARTIES, SOVEREIGNTY;
SUMMARY: Discussion on the Constitution, Terrorism,
Elections, Political Parties and Sovereignty, were the major
editorial themes of the daily newspapers on October 2, 2005.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. "Is Silence Helpful?" (Al-Bayyan, 10/2)
B. "The Saudi Minister's Statements" (As-Sabah Al-Jadeed,
C. "Yes to the Constitution" (Al-Dawa, 10/2)
D. "The Last Chance for Sunnis" (Al-Ittihad, 10/2)
E. "Terrorism: The Case of Lebanon and Iraq" (Al-Fourat,
F. "The Referendum Reflects a Difficult Choice" (Al-Dustoor,
G. "The Kurds and the Upcoming Referendum (Al-Taakhi, 10/2)
A. "Is Silence Helpful?"
(Al-Bayyan, pro-coalition and affiliated with the Islamic Al-
Dawa party led by Al-Ja'afari, published this page-five
editorial by Salim Rasoul)
"The latest statistics report that among Shiites alone
10,000 martyrs have been killed (women, men, and children)
who have nothing to do with politics or political activity.
They were assassinated simply because they are Shiite. Can
you imagine 10,000 people killed by terrorists solely due to
their religious identity and sect!.Despite this large number
of Iraqi victims we haven't yet seen an honorable stance
taken by many political and religious institutions-it's as
if they condone these crimes which weren't perpetrated only
against Shiites but also against Sunnis in Ramadi, Mosul,
"Silence today will make Iraqis an easy target for Al-
Zarqawi. So with all this bloodshed we wonder if the silence
is helpful. May we ask others about their real positions
toward who is killing our people? Let Al-Zarqawi and whoever
covers for him know that we are able to defeat them--we
stood against the tyrant himself and his regime (since 1968)
and defeated them in the end.Were it not for our allegiance
to our religious authority's wise instructions not to
intervene [i.e. refrain from fighting back and provoke a
civil war] then Al-Zarqawi would realize who he is fighting
and what kind of fierce warriors he is threatening."
B. "The Saudi Minister's Statements"
(As-Sabah Al-Jadeed, independent, pro-coalition, published
this front-page editorial by Ismael Zair)
"The results and sequence of the Saudi foreign minister's
statements toward Iraq have raised many questions concerning
Iraqi issues. Chief among them is the question of how to
deal with Iraq as a sovereign state, that's a question
that's been posed a thousand times by others. Perhaps the
most important question of all of is this: Hasn't Iraq
suffered enough from regional and foreign interference? Has
Iraq become an open field for regional powers to settle
"We are not about to take a stand for or against the Saudi
minister's statements here, especially given sectarian
overtones, but his statement clearly applies to our question
above about how Iraq has become a field for others to settle
issues. People like Iraqis who are descendants of: an
ancient civilization, dignity, culture, and political
figures, will never allow anyone to speak on their behalf.
Politicians such as the Saudi minister have brought us to
the brink of sectarianism, aiming to start a civil war.
Those who want to ignite fires inside Iraq in order to
protect their own countries should realize that this fire
will burn them first."
C. "Yes to the Constitution"
(Al-Dawa, affiliated with the Islamic Al-Dawa Party led by
Al-Ja'afari, published this page-five editorial by Rassem
"When the Iraqi people challenged danger and terrorism and
went to ballot boxes during the previous election [in
January] they demonstrated that they are valiant and yearn
for freedom and democracy.
"The previous election has led to the establishment of an
elected National Assembly, which included all Iraqi sects,
in addition to a national government which has achieved
important successes such as the improvement of the security
situation, discovery of corruption and embezzlement, and the
drafting of a permanent Iraqi constitution. This
constitution will be the basis for establishing a new Iraq.
The 15th of October will be a decisive day in our history
and advance us toward prosperity. Our participation in the
referendum is a national duty at this sensitive period.
"We are heading for a new era of rebuilding and constructing
new Iraqi human beings-resurrecting those who have suffered
tyranny for decades. We will keep moving forward and never
go backward because Iraq's destiny was dictated by honorable
and elected hands. For this reason, all honest Iraqis must
actively participate in the referendum in order to make the
political and constitutional process successful. This can be
done through education and consultation in order to explain
to people the real meaning of the constitution. In this way,
we will be able to put an end to terrorist groups and the
former regime's loyalists. Let the 15th of October be the
decisive day to distinguish between good and evil."
D. "The Last Chance for Sunnis"
(Al-Ittihad, affiliated with the PUK, published this page-
five editorial by Faryad Rawanduzi)
"The referendum is approaching within less than two weeks.
Though, the Sunnis still do not know how to react to the
draft constitution; there are some Sunni groups that would
reject the constitution even if they had written it
themselves. Other Sunni groups yearn for the past and in
particular they long for Saddam's regime. Those groups are
not less radical than the aforementioned groups because they
have demands that are impossible to implement. There is yet
another group that opposes the constitution but is hesitant
and tells others that it would accept the constitution after
Sunni demands are accommodated.
"The Sunni demands that were submitted to the Kurdish
leadership will not change the constitution. I do not think
that the Kurds oppose learning Arabic because thousands of
Kurds get information and have had education in Arabic.
Although Arabic is a difficult language to learn, it is the
more important language for Iraqi Kurds and it is the second
language after Kurdish in Kurdistan. Yet, everybody should
know that Arabic cannot be the first language for the Kurds
because it will not replace their mother tongue. At the same
time, we cannot discard it. I do not demand that Arabs learn
Kurdish because this is up to them. But, I strongly demand
every Kurdish citizen learn Arabic as an important language.
"Regarding Iraq's unity, it does not make any sense to make
this concept a Sunni demand because it is mainly an Iraqi
demand. Therefore, it is acceptable to address this concern
in the constitution. The Sunnis have the right to have red
lines but they must not forget that other people have red
lines too. I think that the former regime's period is a red
line that has no place in the constitution. This matter must
be understood by everybody and not only political Sunnis.
The Sunni's approval of the recent constitutional
suggestions represents a last chance for them. Sunnis must
preserve this chance because all indicators show that
rejection will not be helpful. The constitution is about to
be accepted by the majority of Iraqis with the approach of
E. "Terrorism: The Case of Lebanon and Iraq"
(Al-Fourat, independent, anti coalition, published this page-
five editorial by Haitham Muzahem)
"There are international and Arab efforts to fight terrorism
but these efforts are not sufficient, especially in the Arab
and Islamic world. Most of these efforts are governmental
while public opinion in Arab and Islamic countries is
apathetic or at times sympathetic with terrorism. People in
these countries sympathize with terrorists under the
pretexts that these militants are mujahideen and resistance
movements that fight the American occupation in Iraq and
"Perhaps this is the main gap that makes terrorism difficult
to fight. Terrorism must be rooted out and this means that
we must put an end to its financial and material sources.
International laws have stated eliminating terrorist funds
and outlawed the sheltering of terrorists. In Iraq,
terrorists announce their criminal operations shamelessly
and this reminds us of the Israeli brazenness to conduct
operations against the Palestinians. Terrorists in Iraq
either belong to bands of Saddam loyalists (and the Ba'ath
Party) or they are affiliated with Islamic extremists. Those
terrorists kill innocent Iraqis under the assumption they
will go to heaven by killing Iraqi people because they
collaborate with the occupation. On the other hand, in
Lebanon, terrorists remain anonymous and we don't hear about
any specific group claiming responsibility for conducting
operations. The Lebanese Minister of the Interior has said
the country is currently attempting to deal with ghosts.
"I think that such justification by the Lebanese government
cannot be accepted. In fact, this shows that the Lebanese
government is unable to stop bombings. However, it is very
easy to criticize officials for being negligent. The reality
is totally different and this is due to the complicated
security and political situation in Lebanon. This country
has suffered from a civil war and then Israeli and Syrian
occupation. In the end, they've had security forces that
have been infiltrated by regional and international
countries for the past thirty years."
F. "The Referendum Reflects a Difficult Choice"
Al-Dustoor, independent, published this front-page editorial
by Bassem Al-Sheikh:
"The referendum is not a lottery as some politicians may
think. In fact, it is a process that is based on
satisfaction. In addition, we must take into consideration
that this process is surrounded by difficult conditions such
as the deterioration of the security situation and other
challenges that affect the whole political process.
"The referendum will establish the main law for the future
of Iraq and represents a transition from the stage of
compulsory laws to the stage of elective laws. As a result,
the referendum means that people will vote based on their
education and awareness and not mere submissiveness; in
fact, it represents freedom from the slavery of the
"This process is not as easy as some people think. Saying
`yes' or `no' does not mean that this is the end of this
process but rather it is the starting point to choose
between construction and destruction. For this reason,
Iraqis have a huge responsibility when they decide to vote
in the referendum because their choice will decide the
future of Iraq. Moreover, the Iraqi people must be wise and
mindful when making their choice because this it is the
decision that will define their destiny."
G. "The Kurds and the Upcoming Referendum
Al-Taakhi, affiliated with the KDP led by Mas'oud Al
Barazani, published this front-page editorial by Editor-in-
Chief, Badirkhan Al-Sindi:
"The birth of the constitution has not been easy. In fact,
it occurred only through long and elaborate discussions. In
addition, it created many predictable, unanticipated, and
contradictory viewpoints which afflicted the constitution
drafting process. Actually, it represented a challenge to
the Transitional National Assembly which was very careful to
produce a draft constitution before giving responsibility to
the Iraqi political leadership to resolve the conflicts.
"The Kurdish leadership played an essential role in
finalizing the draft and readying it for the referendum
despite the fact that it did not fulfill all Kurdish
ambitions. But, at the same time, we believe that voting for
the constitution is a national responsibility and the
current draft constitution is the best for the current Iraqi
situation. This is because the draft has not easily
satisfied all Iraqi interest groups. Moreover, rejecting the
constitution would give Iraq's enemies the chance to achieve
their wicked goals. As a result, the Kurds may ask for a new
constitution that does not follow the same altruistic
manner; one where they would demand their full rights which
should be secured in the Iraqi constitution.
"The attempts to encourage and foment negative attitudes
concerning the constitution in order to reject it, in the
upcoming referendum, will only benefit those who have wept
over Saddam's removal. This is an undeniable fact that
contradicts the ambitions of the Iraqi people who suffered
from dictatorship and injustice for the last three decades.
We hope that all Iraqis will understand the tension in the
current situation. We wish they would understand the
necessity to settle constitutional issues without adopting
solutions that were included in the TAL [Transitional
Administrative Law]. However, using the TAL is definitely
legal but will lead to more delays. Consequently, this will
affect the progress of the Iraqi people. We understand that
constitutions are not solid objects and this means that they
can be changed and developed over time. Modifying the
constitution is not impossible, but rather the impossible
thing is making progress in Iraq with the influence of those
who insist on controlling people's fate, confiscating their
freedom, and preventing the establishment of democracy in