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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 03 BAGHDAD 004221

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 13, 2005. END SUMMARY.

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

A. "This Morning" (Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed, 10/13)
B. "Yes to the Constitution" (Al-Iraq Al-Jadeed, 10/13)
C. "National Consensus" (Al-Adala, 10/13)
D. "The New Tyrannies" (Al-Ihtijah Al-Akhar, 10/13)
E. "Last Minute Chance" (Al-Dustoor, 10/13)

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

A. "This Morning"
(Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed, independent, published this front-page
editorial by Ismael Zayyer)

"Those who attempted to hinder the constitutional process
will be sorry--they have tried, unsuccessfully, to hurt
their rivals. Moreover, this `fabricated' opposition is
nominally supported by Amr Musa at the expenses of Iraq and
all Iraqis. This group [Sunnis] wants to stand against the
Iraqi people by trying to reject the constitution but it
seems that they do not know that the Iraqi people are
carefully watching them; our people know that this group
wants to destroy the whole of Iraq's political
accomplishments.

"In addition, this group is responsible for every child and
youth who may be killed or assassinated at the black hands
of terrorism. Today, all of our citizens have the
constitutional right to decide what they believe and we will
never admit defeat and submit to Zarqawi and the Saddamist
criminals who have destroyed this country.

"Now, there is a dominant and positive spirit prevalent
among political groups which will mend faults in the
constitution in preparation for the upcoming election. We
have a good chance for amendment and reform for the sake of
all Iraqis."

B. "Yes to the Constitution"
(Al-Iraq Al-Jadeed, independent, published this front-page
editorial by Sa'ad Al-Ka'bi)

"The first Iraqi permanent constitution will be put to vote
so that the people will have their final say about this
constitution which will determine the future of Iraq. Before
this constitution, we had seven temporary constitutions all
of which tyrannized Iraqis and were written according to the
needs of rulers rather than the needs of the people.

"Today, those who call for and insist on unity and Arabism
do not truly care about either unity or Arabism in Iraq. In
fact, they want to draft the same tyrannical constitutions
that were written in the past and are trying hard to hinder
the democratic progress of the Iraqi people. The permanent
constitution is important because it does not allow
parasites to dominate people's decisions. Hence, we have to
vote for the constitution so that we can stop those who want
to make this country continue to suffer.

"If we say `Yes' to the constitution, we will be able to
reply to the killers and those who support them and in this
way, we can defend ourselves against dictatorship and its
followers. Today, those who weep over the unity of Iraq were
the first ones who violated the country's unity when they
occupied and looted Kuwait. They are the first group that
divided Iraq into sects and nationalities. Despite that,
millions of poor Iraqis will definitely vote for the
constitution to defeat years of sectarianism, dictatorship
and hateful Ba'athism, which we will never allow to return
to our permanent constitution."

C. "National Consensus"
(Al-Adala, affiliated with SCIRI led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim,
published this page-three editorial by Dr. Ali Khalif)

"Yesterday was an historic day when Iraqi national groups
agreed to make some amendments to the constitution,
following the coming election [in December]. This has
isolated terrorists and those who dream of a return of the
dictatorship. In addition, this has revealed the real face
of honest and patriotic Iraqis who want only good things for
their country and its people.

"Yesterday was the beginning of the move forward toward
national reconciliation and, as Sayyid Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim
confirmed, the belief that the principles of national
reconciliation will encourage us to support initiatives to
unify all viewpoints and isolate terrorism. President
Talabani said that Sunni Arabs no longer have any excuse to
reject the constitution. I think all generations will
remember this day because we are all waiting for the day
when the Iraqi people say `Yes' to the constitution. The
following day, terrorist faces will feign sorrow (through
media outlets) over: Iraqi unity, the country's future, and
the distribution of wealth. However, the Iraqi people will
reveal the masks hiding the names of those who have
attempted to restore the Ba'athist regime.

"Yesterday's agreement between national and Islamic powers
can be considered an essential move that shows constructive
dialogue. Sunni Arabs could have adopted this type of
dialogue long ago. On the other hand, Zarqawi has mistakenly
labeled himself a representative for Sunni Arabs. Yesterday
confirmed that Sunni groups are serious about participating
in the political process and the Sunnis have realized that
boycotting the constitution and the elections is useless
because the Iraqi people will never allow the dictatorship
to come back to power. The Iraqi people will move forward
and advance toward freedom and democracy to build a new
country where all citizens live peacefully under an elected
government and a permanent constitution."

D. "The New Tyrannies"
(Al-Ihtijah Al-Akhar, weekly, anti-coalition, affiliated
with the [Sunni] Liberation and Reconciliation Bloc led by
Mish'an Al-Jabouri)

"The TNA (Transitional National Assembly) was forced to
cancel its decision to change the law governing the
referendum following serious criticism from liberal parties
and democratic parliamentary members, in addition to the
U.N. and the U.S. It is possible to say that the tyrannical
ruling powers, which influenced the TNA, have been forced to
retract their attempt to alter the referendum law--we must
refer to the expanding number of rejecters to the draft
constitution. This expansion follows the insistence of the
ruling powers in rejecting the demands of others and their
failure to make realistic amendments to the draft
constitution that would preserve Iraq's unity and restore
its position in the Arab world.

"Due to this insistence by those powers, the word `No' has
taken on new meaning and proliferated putting the ruling
powers in an awkward position, in addition to religious
authorities who assured us they would never interfere in
Iraqi's choices or determination to express their will
regarding whether to support or reject the draft
constitution. Because of this, legislative and executive
authorities have been pushed to explain the referendum
law...

"Following this disappointment, on behalf of the ruling
powers, they announced that the TNA retracted its decision
with some conditions; one of them was to transfer the IECI
employees that are posted in the majority of Sunni provinces-
-as if they were insistent on trading employees for militias
to manipulate the referendum result in these provinces."

E. "Last Minute Chance"
(Al-Dustoor, independent, no bias, published this front-page
editorial by Basim Al-Sheikh)

"The leaders of political blocs and other factions have
worked diligently to push the constitution process forward.
They have demonstrated a high degree of flexibility and made
concessions toward putting the country's interest above all
else in order to succeed during the referendum process--
without divisions or disagreements that would destroy the
political process and take us back to the starting point.
"On the other hand, some factions have educated people in an
effort to get them to vote against the constitution because
they have encountered roadblocks in achieving their demands.
This has caused leaders of the political blocs to review
their plans, after failing to change the amendment of the
TAL in the TNA [to facilitate the constitution's passage],
forcing them to confront dangerous challenges and offer some
concessions to rejecters to make them feel included in the
process.
"These rejecters have worked hard recently to cause the
political process to fail, but now harmony has been achieved
among all factions who have announced that they will stop
their campaign against the constitution and will begin
supporting it. So will they succeed in changing the public
opinion from rejection to acceptance in such a short period
time?
"It seems difficult if it is not impossible, but this
significant and dangerous experience has provided an
invaluable lesson proved to all--that dialogue and the
democratic means are capable of leveraging issues and that
politicians can get whatever they need through this process;
policy is considered a language of interests and there is no
absolute winner nor loser, but rather it's a process of give
and take."

KHALILZAD

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