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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 004210

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,
REFERENDUM, NATIONAL RECONCILIATION; BAGHDAD

SUMMARY: Discussion on the Constitution, Referendum, and
National Reconciliation were the major editorial themes of
the daily newspapers on October 12, 2005. END SUMMARY.

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

A. "Yes. No" (Al-Mada, 10/12)
B. "Democracy of the Constitution" (Al-Watan, 10/12)
C. "Yes to the Constitution" (Baghdad, 10/12)
D. "The Homeland Comes First, and `Yes' to the Constitution
is in Our Interest" (Al-Taakhi, 10/12)
E. "The Constitution. Instead of Rice in Our Share of
Rations!" (Al-Mashriq, 10/12)
F. "Faithful Day" (Al-Adala, 10/12)

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

A. "Yes. No"
(Al-Mada, independent, published this back-page editorial by
Nazar Abdul Satar)

"The referendum is very crucial. If we examine our decision
about voting `Yes' or `No' to the constitution, we will
reach an interesting conclusion which will show us that the
Iraqi people have increasingly begun to believe in the
political process. The dissenting political groups have
started to believe in the legitimacy of the political
process even though they reject it. Therefore, this
indicates that there is a significant change towards
stability and positive interaction.

"The referendum can be interpreted as an agreement toward
reconciliation and it is an admission of the legitimacy of
the TAL's (Transitional Administrative Law) timetable. The
referendum shows that democracy is progressing in Iraq--we
will see voters who vote `Yes' and at the same time we will
see others vote 'No' to the constitution.

"In fact, the progress of the democratic process will not
end with the announcement of the referendum's results but it
will endure. The upcoming election is approaching and will
be held after the referendum. At that time, there will be
many chances available to crystallize opinions. The
referendum has unified the Iraqi people to utter one word
that will make a difference in Iraq. The Iraqi people will
go to the ballot boxes and these boxes will determine their
future. Participation in the referendum means that we accept
and legitimize democracy. It also means that we trust one
another and love our country. We all agreed to head to the
ballot boxes because we believe in the future of the new
Iraq."

B. "Democracy of the Constitution"
(Al-Watan, affiliated with the Iraqi National Movement led
by Dr. Hatem Mukhles)

"Iraqi politicians wrote a draft constitution for the
country that has divided Iraqi political groups--there are
some politicians who rejected the draft and at the same time
there are others who have accepted it; we see some people
who are optimistic about this draft while we see others who
have reservations about it.

"These conflicting attitudes have caused many constitutional
committee members, the National Assembly, and leaders of
political parties to give their opinions on the
constitution. Some of them said that disharmony over the
draft constitution represents a healthy and democratic
practice while others opined that the era of 99% votes in
favor is over-that Iraq is now in the age of democracy,
federalism and pluralism and it is now possible for
disagreement amongst Iraqis. On the other hand, we have
heard some say that this draft disengages Iraq from its Arab
and Islamic identity because it states that Iraq is a part
of the Islamic world and its people are part of the Arab
nation. Actually, Iraq is not a merely part of the Arab
nation but it is the main part of the Arab nation.

"Nevertheless, we are waiting for October 15th so that we
will know whether this draft will be approved or rejected.
On this day, the people of Mesopotamia will give their final
word about the draft constitution. They will prove to the
entire world that they are the benefactors of the first
civilization and those who taught humanity how to write and
enact laws. On October15th, the Iraqi people will practice
democracy for the first time in their lives because it is
the democracy of the constitution."

C. "Yes to the Constitution"
(Baghdad, pro-coalition, affiliated with INA (Iraqi National
Accord) led by Iyad Allawi published this page-two
unattributed editorial)

"Iraq is a multicultural country comprised of many
religions, sects, and ethnicities, all of whom have suffered
from the unjust aggression of dictatorial policies and
wars-conflicts that have resulted in infants recognizing the
smell of gunpowder before taking their first sips of milk.
"In the democratic environment following Saddam's downfall,
you can always find someone calling for the rights of this
sect or that religion, hoping to reap benefit (financial or
otherwise) from the Iraqi people in a way that is close to a
dictatorial style and doing their best to stand in the
limelight, forgetting that all Iraqis have suffered.
Although some Iraqis have suffered more than others all
should enjoy rights because they have lived under
oppression.

"We are in need of a common framework to structure our lives
in adherence to the principles of justice and equality-which
means a constitution. While it is true that our civilization
was the first to establish democracy, there is a stark
difference between those who memorize lessons and those who
comprehend them completely. Democracy is an instrument we
should implement in our dealings with each other, not merely
mimicking what slogans proclaim.

"Therefore, each of us should accept concessions to make
progress on Iraq. Voting `Yes' to the constitution is a
great patriotic duty and we can discuss unresolved issues at
a later date in order to ensure everyone's rights. Voting
`Yes' to the constitution will clear the way for choosing a
strong, elected government capable of amending whatever we
want in the constitution. Moreover, voting `Yes' to the
constitution is best, because the alternative is so
difficult and not even in the benefit of those who reject
it."

D. "The Homeland Comes First, and `Yes' to the Constitution
is in Our Interest"
(Al-Taakhi, affiliated with the KDP led by Al-Barzani,
published this page-five editorial by Hussein Al-Jaff)

"The Iraqi tent is large and there is enough room for
everyone in it; Iraq's interest must come first. The
people's prosperity and development should be everyone's
responsibility: officials, employees, or citizens. As the
prophet Mohammad said, `All of you are in charge and each
one is responsible for his group.' Therefore, responsibility
is collective, and the homeland should come first. Today our
homeland needs us to stand with it in order to pass through
the crisis; the international conspiracy against it, the
Arab's ungratefulness, and the remnants of the former
regime's aggressions against our homeland.

"The homeland obliges us to vote `Yes' to its future on
referendum day, because this constitution will bring us
happiness in a free, pluralistic, federal, democratic
country in which everyone will be equal. Justice, in dealing
with everyone, will be the ideal characteristic of the new
regime.

"On Saturday, Iraqis will stab the dagger of national unity
into the hearts of Iraq's enemies and the enemies of its
future."

E. "The Constitution. Instead of Rice in Our Share of
Rations!"
(Al-Mashriq, independent, anti-coalition, published this
page-three editorial by Dr. Hameed Abdullah)

"All Iraqi families have received their copies of the draft
constitution with their monthly food rations, which are
always missing several items such as sugar, rice, tea,
flour, and lentils.

"Our deprived people wish the government would distribute
the rice and sugar together with the copy of the
constitution because the Iraqi people have suffered from a
lack of sugar and rice during the oppressive embargo
previously imposed upon Iraq. In addition, terrorism
prevents vehicles that carry food supplies from reaching the
warehouses of the Ministry of Trade. May God help the Iraqis
who have suffered from the embargo and terrorism.

"Our food rations are shrinking day by day and we can
predict that one day the Iraqi family will receive a
matchbox as the only item available through food rations. We
are sure that the Ministry of Trade's employees will blame
terrorism rather than corruption. Poor Iraqis wish the
government would distribute the draft constitution with
rice. In this way, all Iraqis will be interested in reading
this draft. As it is now, they have a copy of the
constitution but they do not have rice or sugar and for this
reason they will leave the copy on the shelf because they
are not interested in reading it. Then, Iraqis will go to
the ballot boxes to have their say on the constitution and I
am sure that they will feel that they are following their
politicians' desires--just like the old saying (people
follow their king's religion).

"The word of yes or no on the constitution means nothing to
Iraqis. The Iraqi people elected those who they thought were
qualified and perfect to lead the political process but
then, following the elections, they were shocked. Nothing
changed, especially concerning the deterioration of the
security situation, which is still worsening. Iraqis will
say a resounding `yes' but they will say this for the rice,
tea, sugar, security, law and justice."

F. "Faithful Day"
Al-Adala, affiliated with SCIRI led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim,
published this page-three editorial by Dr. Ali Khalif:

"With just 72 hours left, until Iraqis are due to decide on
the draft constitution in the upcoming referendum, meetings,
negotiations and ongoing talks among Iraqi political leaders
are an attempt to add some amended articles to the
constitution to gain Sunni support for the draft. This
attempt reflects the patience of Iraqi national forces
trying to respond to difficult Sunni demands and reach
something that Sunnis can agree on to hold all Iraqis
together for the coming decisive moments.

"Last minute talks and dialogue among Iraqis political
forces will continue until national forces guarantee that
Sunnis are satisfied and have confidence that the draft
constitution will represent their interests and that Iraqi
national forces have a real desire to maintain their
country's unity and to ensure the participation of all sects
in the political process in Saturday's vote. Sunni demands
have shown that they reject all kinds of changes and they
are still sticking to the once-dominant Sunni minority idea
that would reject the constitution.

"Regardless what negotiations and meetings result in, all
Iraqis are aware that the constitution represents unique
guarantees to move Iraq to a better future and start Iraq's
rebuilding stage--voting `Yes' will open a new bright and
secure life, and pave the start for the next election.

"To begin with, something is better than nothing--yes there
are reservations about some of constitution's articles but
this is the best among the possibilities; especially since
Iraq has just emerged from a dictatorial regime and suffered
for a long time. Now should be the time to determine a free
and democratic future.

"Iraq's enemies are planning to make the constitution fail,
but Iraqis are aware that the draft constitution represents
a bright future for Iraqis and that referendum day will be
the faithful day for all our martyrs in the mass graves of
Halabja, Al-Anfal and all those who have sacrificed their
lives for such a great day and for their faith and
principles."

KHALILZAD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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