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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 004173

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 BAGHDAD
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: IRAQI GOVERNMENT, CONSTITUTION,
REFERENDUM, ARAB LEAGUE; BAGHDAD

SUMMARY: Discussion on the Constitution, Referendum, and the
Arab League were the major editorial themes of the daily
newspapers on October 10, 2005. END SUMMARY.

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

A. "The Arab League's Role in Supporting Iraq" (Al-Jaridah,
10/10)
B. "Will the Arab League Succeed in its Mission?" (Al-
Ittihad, 10/10)
C. "The Constitution: Between A Corrupted Past & Hopeful
Present" (Al-Muatamar, 10/10)
D. "Transitional Iraq, Permanent Constitution!" (Al-Mashriq,
10/10)
E. "Errant Plans" (Al-Bayyan, 10/10)

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

A. "The Arab League's Role in Supporting Iraq"
(Al-Jaridah, affiliated with the Arab Socialist Movement,
published this front-page unattributed editorial)

"Iraq has been eager to attend Arab League conferences and
meetings since the downfall of the former regime because
Iraq is part of its Arab neighborhood. After the former
dictatorial regime was toppled, the Arab League failed to
adopt a positive stance toward Iraq's situation; the former
regime damaged Iraq's relationship with the Arab League and
for this reason the League should have played a positive
role in the new Iraq. It should have called for all Arab
countries to open embassies in Baghdad in spite of the
deterioration of the security situation.

"Concerning the military and security situation, many armed
groups have infiltrated Iraq and destabilized the country.
In addition, these groups have attempted to split the Iraqi
people by conducting attacks that lead to the killing of
dozens of innocent civilians. Despite all of these attacks,
the Arab League has done nothing. Moreover, the Arab League
should have called for Arab countries to cancel the debts
Iraq owes them. We have noticed that most of non-Arab
countries have canceled Iraq's debts while the country is
still suffering under the burden of heavy Arab debt
arrangements, which have weakened the Iraqi economy. Without
a doubt, the negative attitudes of some Arab countries
concerning security and the political and economic situation
in Iraq have given Iraqis reservations about the Arab
League's role in this country. As a result, Amr Musa's
mission will not be easy under the current conditions. But,
can the Arab League's delegation achieve national
reconciliation in Iraq amongst some political, sectarian and
religious groups?

"We hope that Amr Musa will be successful in his mission to
unite different Iraqi groups and we believe that it is a big
mistake to marginalize any group from the political process.
It is important for all Iraqi groups to participate in the
rebuilding of the new Iraq and achieve peace. We think that
harmony is the best way to make the political process
successful. At the same time, we believe that Iraq must
reinforce its relationships with the Arab League and the
Arab world and for this reason we hope that the visit of the
Arab League to Baghdad will help to reinforce Iraq's Arab
and regional relationships.

"We have heard that Amr Musa will work to achieve national
reconciliation in Iraq. We do support this initiative but at
the same time we think it necessary to reject sectarianism
and ethnic power sharing. We must agree to have a national
project in which all patriotic groups participate to
accomplish national reconciliation. In any case, does Amr
Musa have answers to these questions and will Iraqi
political groups respond to his initiative?"

B. "Will the Arab League Succeed in its Mission?"
(Al-Ittihad, affiliated with the PUK, published this page-
three editorial by Abdul Hadi Mahdi)

"The Arab League's delegation has arrived in Baghdad to hold
talks and meetings with different Iraqi groups in order to
achieve reconciliation through a national conference. This
delegation also paves the way for the Secretary General of
the Arab League, Amr Musa, to visit Iraq.

"The Iraqi people are asking with whom we reconcile. The
Arab League has not clarified or given any details on this
issue. The Iraqi people have become divided into two
factions concerning Amr Musa's visit. There are Iraqis who
welcome this visit and at the same time there are Iraqis who
reject it due to the Arab League's positions and statements
on the new Iraq's situations. We all know that the Arab
League has shown no encouragement or welcoming of Iraqi
activities since the downfall of the former regime. If today
the Arab League wants to play the role of mediator it must
be neutral.
"The current visit has come at a sensitive time where the
Iraqi people are getting ready to vote on their new
constitution. If this visit had come during the period of
the drafting of the constitution, it would have been
important and possible to achieve some goals. But, we were
astonished when we heard Amr Musa say to the BBC Radio that
Iraq is in danger of a civil war and the situation is very
tense. He added that he cannot let Iraq suffer from division
or disagreements and that there are groups and interests
trying to tamper with the future of Iraq. This is exactly
what Amr Musa said although he stated that he wants to
achieve national reconciliation in Iraq, as if Iraqis were
incapable of accomplishing such a thing. In fact, we would
like to know which groups will participate in the
reconciliation. Will those who slaughtered innocent Iraqis
on a daily basis and destroyed Iraq's infrastructure
participate in this reconciliation? What does the Arab
League regard as terrorist attacks in Iraq? Has the Arab
League officially condemned these operations-even once?
Frankly, if the Iraqi people have not reached a state of
civil war in spite of the difficult conditions following
April 9, 2003 then how can they have a civil war now?

"Perhaps Amr Musa knows he will fail in his mission in Iraq
and for this reason he began making such statements to
justify his failure and blame Iraqi groups. He certainly
knows that such statements will make some Iraqi political
groups unresponsive to his initiatives. We want to know why
the Arab League remained silent in the past. Why hasn't it
given any assistance to the Iraqi people? Does Amr Musa's
statement threaten to ignite a civil war in Iraq?"

C. "The Constitution: Between A Corrupted Past & Hopeful
Present"
(Al-Muatamar, affiliated with the Iraqi National Congress
led by Ahmad Al-Chalabi, published this page-fifteen
editorial by Muslim Al-Mi'mar)

"After the downfall of the dictatorial regime, all types of
oppression ended. Now, we have freedom of expression,
religion and social freedom. Tyranny in Iraq is over and it
will never return. Today is the time for the new Iraqi state
and the new constitution. The new Iraqi constitution is
considered to be the first constitution drafted by the hands
of Iraqis, written by people who were elected, through
ballot boxes, to the National Assembly. Thus, this
constitution will guarantee equality and rights for all
Iraqis. This constitution will ensure that there will be no
more dictators because the people are the only ones with
authority to decide the future of their country.

"The current draft constitution, which will be put to vote
on October 15, satisfies the majority of our ambitions. At
the same time, we will not say that it is perfect because it
has some shortcomings. However, we must call for solidarity
and unity so that we can put an end to any attempts to harm
this country.

"The entire world has seen millions of Iraqis head to
polling centers to participate in the January 30 elections.
Now, it is time to work to decide the future of this country
through our participation in the referendum on October 15.
We hope that all the Iraqi people will vote for the
constitution because it will build Iraq's future and
guarantee justice for all Iraqis."

D. "Transitional Iraq, Permanent Constitution!"
(Al-Mashriq, independent, anti-coalition, published this
page-three editorial by Dr. Hameed Abdullah)

"Suddenly Iraq has become transitional in everything:
regime, government, parliament, regulations, laws, police,
army, and perhaps even its flag or borders. Talking about
sovereignty and independence is now considered forbidden
because it disturbs our new Iraqi politicians. I remember
one of those politicians that recently came to Iraq [from
exile] who was asked by a journalist, `How will you bring
independence to Iraq following the ouster of Saddam's
regime?' He answered, `We will return independence and
sovereignty to Iraq even if we have to pay through
bloodshed,' stressing, `Our lives will be the price paid for
Iraq's independence".

"This constitution, which has been the cause of
disagreements, discussions, car bombs, infighting, and
conflicts, is considered the only permanent document in a
country of a transitional government and parliament. A
country that has an unknown future; therefore if you
(Iraqis) feel hungry eat the constitution, if you feel
frightened keep the constitution at home because it will
bring safety to you, if there is a shortage in gas and fuel
the constitution will grant you heating in winter, if you
miss your food rations just remember that you have a
constitution that will protect your rights and fill your
empty stomachs...

"It is not so important that Iraq has security and stability
as much as that we can tell the world that we have a
constitution drafted with blood and ink. We are the model
for our neighbors, who are exporting terror, or any country
that exports gas and kerosene, or any country that exports
dates and melons--after our country has become an empty
desert!"

E. "Errant Plans"
(Al-Bayyan, affiliated with the Al-Dawa Islamic party led by
Al-Ja'afari, published this front-page unattributed
editorial)

"In a step similar to their last one, the so-called
`marginalized' [i.e. Sunnis] have again announced their
rejection to the constitution. So through this step, Iraqis
again understand that this group is insistent on abstaining
from the political process. Months ago they told the
political blocs that they, the marginalized, represent all
boycotters, therefore they should participate in the
drafting of the constitution [i.e. because they claim they
were forced to boycott the previous elections and didn't do
so willingly]. So the political blocs in the TNA have
responded to that claim in order to achieve as much
agreement on the constitution as possible.

"A lot of discussions have occurred and many changes have
been made to the draft resulting in near agreement on it,
and yet this group [the marginalized] returned to raise new
objections which led to a delay in the draft. It has become
clear that this group will reject the draft or impose their
unacceptable conditions on everyone else. As a result the
TNA approved the draft for referendum.

"This group [the marginalized] should have taken the
opportunity to participate in the political process and play
a positive role by urging people to vote. Or they should
have demonstrated to the people their real reasons for
rejecting the draft constitution. Moreover, we understand
that this group is not representative of general Sunni
opinion, because many Sunnis have expressed their desires to
participate in the referendum; they consider this draft to
be the only guarantee for all Iraqis' rights.

"We believe that this rejection will not change the fact
that all Iraqis will vote `yes' to the draft constitution.
So this vote will be a slap in the face of terrorists by
challenging them.
We also believe that rejection by the boycotters will yield
a similar destiny [as in the January elections]."

KHALILZAD

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