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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 004320

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, SADDAM HUSSEIN TRIAL, NATIONAL RECONCILIATION;

BAGHDAD

SUMMARY: Discussion on the Constitution, Referendum, Saddam
Hussein Trial, and National Reconciliation were the major
editorial themes of the daily newspapers on October 19,
2005. END SUMMARY.

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

A. "Dialogue is the Only Path Towards Settlement" (Al-
Fourat, 10/19)
B. "The Trial" (Al-Adala, 10/19)
C. "Messages from the People" (Al-Bayyan, 10/19)
D. "The Ballot Results Implore Respect for Citizens'
Opinions" (Al-Ittihad, 10/19)
E. "Due Date" (Al-Sabah, 10/19)

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

A. "Dialogue is the Only Path Towards Settlement"
(Al-Fourat, independent, anti-coalition published this page-
three editorial by Hamid Al-Dulaimi)

"Dialogue is the only language to generate solutions to the
many crises in this country, but the desire for dialogue has
diminished among political groups. Dialogue requires sincere
and honest intentions in order to be successful, yet some
groups want to seize time for their own interests--they use
dialogue only to further their interests and reach their own
goals.

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"Everyone claims to be in support of the political process
and says they want it to succeed but all signs indicate the
opposite; conflict prevails as if dialogue were marginalized
and useless. The truth is that dialogue is a magic
instrument for dealing with society's problems.

"Both intellectuals and the media are responsible for the
continuous emphasis on dialogue and the necessity for
reaching positive outcomes to save Iraqi society from
conflict and war. Iraqi society is facing a significant and
dangerous test and it will either return to dialogue,
forgiveness, and respect for others or it will follow the
path of sedition of division. There is a fine line between
both; therefore politicians must be very careful in choosing
the path forward. Which route will they choose?"

B. "The Trial"
(Al-Adala, affiliated with SCIRI led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim,
published this page-three column by Dr. Ali Khalif)

"The Iraqi Special Tribunal will today convene the trial of
the dictator, Saddam Hussein, and seven other defendants who
will face charges, including crimes against humanity. By the
end of this week, the results of the referendum will be
announced and all expectations point to an overwhelming
ratification of the referendum for the new Iraqi
constitution.

"This synchronism of the trial and referendum process
illustrate public rejection of oppression, the Ba'ath party,
and the tyrant who caused Iraqis to suffer for such a long
time. What we should realize about this tribunal is that it
does not represent revenge against Saddam, who ruled Iraq
through sectarianism, or against his policies but rather
it's a trial of a civilian leader for crimes committed
against his own people. Iraqis have a right to rush their
demands to hang Saddam even without a trial and they are
eager for the moment when they see him in the dock. They
believe that this is the right judgment for the victims of
his massacres and the random execution of innocent Iraqis.
Iraqis believe that he does not deserve a fair and public
trial, and more precisely that he does not deserve to be
treated with justice.

"The Iraqi Special Tribunal is the appropriate forum to
examine the crimes committed in mass graves resulting in the
martyrs of Al-Anfal and Halabja. Iraqis are trying to
rebuild the rule of law through a legitimate trial. Some
have accused this tribunal of being a weak forum-an
institution unwilling to hang Saddam under pressure from
those who only want a life-sentence. This is a conspiracy
theory the former regime has propagated. Iraqis should
believe that Saddam is of no more use to anyone, he has been
in prison for two years now, and this is a real trial and
the judge must hand him an execution sentence."

C. "Messages from the People"
(Al-Bayyan, affiliated with the Al-Dawa party led by Al-
Ja'afari published this page-five editorial by Salim Rasoul)

"Many prescient messages have by sent by the Iraqi people to
the rest of the world: to the Arab world, neighboring
countries, and even to Iraqi politicians who participated in
the referendum. One of the messages is: the Iraqi people are
decisively intent on continuing state and institution
building. That means the entire world should stand with the
Iraqi people and support their efforts to rid Iraq of
terrorism.
"Another message to Arab and neighboring countries is: the
Iraqi people want to live in peace and to build their
country. There are those who believe in dialogue, the
political process, and who trust their political
representatives on the ground in Iraq. Therefore, if
countries want to help the Iraqi people as they claim then
they should double their efforts to stopping the
infiltration of terrorists across their borders, and they
must curtail media support for terrorists in Iraq under the
pretense of resistance.

"The Iraqi people went out in millions, rejecting terrorism
and condemning external efforts supporting terrorists. That
was the clear message from the Iraqi people throughout
referendum day.

"The message that was sent to Iraqi politicians is: Iraqi
citizens have indicated their confidence in their leaders
therefore political parties must respect their constituents'
opinions and honor the trust that has been placed in them.
They must understand the importance of securing the people's
trust-the message is clear and the election is near."

D. "The Ballot Results Implore Respect for Citizens'
Opinions"
(Al-Ittihad, affiliated with the PUK led by Jalal Al-
Talabani, published this page-three editorial by Abdul Hadi
Mahdi)

"As we await the results of the referendum different groups
have been trying to comfort their constituents with regard
to their successes in the constitutional process. No one can
disagree that the referendum process occurred in a
democratic environment-both sides have admitted this as well
as international monitors; it's considered a glorious Iraqi
accomplishment, of which factions should be proud. The draft
constitution is considered to be a civilized accomplishment,
a precedence in Iraq and perhaps the region-everyone should
respect citizens' opinions through the results of the
referendum.

"It seems that the group that anticipates its political
failure is already beginning to claim that results were
forged in such and such a province. It is shameful to accuse
others of forgery and vote rigging unless there is evidence
to back it up."

E. "Due Date"
(Al-Sabah, affiliated with the pro-coalition Iraqi Media
Network, published this front-page editorial by Muhammad
Abdul Jabbar)

"The referendum date has passed peacefully and more than 60%
of registered voters were able to vote on the constitution.
At the time of writing, all clues indicate the constitution
has passed.

"The success of the referendum process is another indication
that the political process in Iraq is moving forward
peacefully-at least on the formal level. In other words, in
accordance with the timetable of dates established to move
the political process forward and accomplish set goals. We
still have one more event on the schedule and that is
parliamentary elections scheduled for December 15, assuming
the constitution successfully passes.

"The main objective of the political process is to rebuild
the Iraqi state which disintegrated on April 9, 2003; a
state in a comprehensive definition, one that embraces all
peoples, territories, government structures, and
consolidates national sovereignty.

"Should the permanent constitution pass successfully, then
it will be considered the groundwork to build a solid state
which democratic and constitutional institutions are built
upon. The constitution includes a lot of articles that are
essential to erect a democratic Iraqi state. It encompasses
many issues (some intentionally postponed) in addition to
guarantees to adjust and amend disputed articles following
the election of a new legislature which will make the
existing constitution a provisional one rather than a
permanent one.

"This means that we have an open text in our hands that
allows us the ability to amend it. The amendments are
necessary in order to build national consensus which
currently exists on a legal basis but will be strengthened
through a larger national consensus.

"It is very important to understand that those who refused
to cast votes were not necessarily rejecting the
constitution or the political process itself nor are they
boycotters. In the worst case scenario they were absent from
participating politically, based on their own free will and
political judgment.

"We have to realize that participation in the referendum and
the election in general is a right and not a duty. In other
words, whoever fails to participate in the referendum is
simply yielding his right for a particular reason. As a
result, he will lose the right to ask for anything. In the
recent Egyptian presidential election, Hosni Mubarak was re-
elected with only 23% of the registered vote and nobody
bothered to discuss the legitimacy of that election."

SATTERFIELD

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