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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 004336

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; BAGHDAD

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

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

A. "What Follows the Constitution?" (Al-Ittihad, 10/20)
B. "Speed Up the Procedures" (Al-Adala, 10/20)
C. "Hope In the National Unity Conference" (Baghdad, 10/20)
D. "Let Us Turn the Next Page" (Al-Fourat, 10/20)
E. "Probable Suspicions" (Al-Da'wa, 10/20)

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

A. "What Follows the Constitution?"
(Al-Ittihad, pro-coalition, affiliated with the PUK led by
Jalal Talabani, published this page-five editorial by Dr.
Zuhair Abdul Malik)

"Ten million Iraqi voters participated in the constitutional
referendum on October 15 by voting `yes' or `no' to the
proposed permanent constitution. This is the major goal we
have all been looking forward to though supporters of
terrorism and the former regime have worked hard to cause
the process to fail. Whatever the results of the referendum,
the most important thing is that there are no more
abstainers in the political process

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"[Sunni] Politicians sometimes use bizarre words, such as
their claims that they were forced to abstain from
participating in the political process. However we believe
that they either, chose not to participate due to terrorist
intimidation or, they rejected the idea of replacing
Saddam's regime which held power over their people-perhaps
it's their notion of masters and slaves.

"This [referendum] is a new lesson in democracy for Iraqis.
The referendum results will indicate the majority's decision
regarding important issues but it does not mean suppression
of the minority. If Iraqis had realized that, then the
common expression which states that `government is a
contract between the people and their ruler' would be
applicable. We the people have empowered you (our
government) to operate under our conditions and to govern us
for a limited period of time.

"Our condition for government is that it works hard using
all its technical and educational resources to serve us, to
rebuild our country, to improve public services, to preserve
our identity and to seek democracy, freedom and peace in
dealing with all of our neighbors and with the international
community. However, I wonder if the terrorists will
understand these results. Personally I do not believe they
will. Will neighboring governments and their satellite news
channels realize the meaning of our significant victory?

"I do not think so, because those governments do not believe
in transparency and they are afraid of human rights which is
why they do not want freedom and democracy in Iraq.
Terrorism and violence will not halt us from reaping the
benefits democracy has brought to our country. Our battle
today is between democracy and its enemies; between
democrats and dictators. The [main] message from the
constitutional referendum is that people and nations have
decided to fight terrorism and back their democratic
governments."

B. "Speed Up the Procedures"
(Al-Adala, pro-coalition, affiliated with SCIRI led by Abdul
Aziz Al-Hakim, published this front-page editorial by Dr.
Ali Khalaif)

"Yesterday was the first public trial of an Arab president
who exercised the worst form of dictatorship against his
people. Although this trial has come late it has provided a
sort of comfort to Iraqis who have waited a very long time
for it.

"What brings us pleasure is that this is the first trial in
the region of a senior official, and it was honest and just;
the entire world witnessed the opening session, in which
neither the tyrant nor his associates were exposed to any
insults.

"What we are seeing is that the Iraqi people want the trial
to speed up. The adjournment has caused further pain to
victims and their families who have already waited for two
years. People saw the tyrant and his associates lying and
denying the crimes they committed in Dujail. People also saw
those demonstrating in support of the former regime, causing
callous disregard for others' feelings.
"Therefore, it is not justice that Saddam and his associates
have been granted more time to lounge in jail. Although we
are for the establishment of such tribunals in the region,
we also advocate on behalf of the people and support the
victims who demand the expediting of this trial and closure
of this issue before the coming election in order to turn
the painful page in our people's history and to open a
shining book for building the new Iraq."

C. "Hope In the National Unity Conference"
(Baghdad, affiliated with the Iraqi National Accord led by
Iyad Allawi, published this front-page unattributed
editorial)

"For the first time there is hope for Iraqis; a candle
lights the way in the darkness by the holding of a national
unity conference. Efforts by Dr. Iyad Allawi, for the good
and interests of Iraq, to bring about national unity have
enhanced the hope for Iraqis that they are able to pass
through the crisis.

"This conference is a good start and gives hope for the
future. We should get beyond our wounds in order to build
our future, and to emphasize for our coming generations that
decent Iraqi men have gathered and compromised for a loving
Iraq. Dr. Allawi exerted much effort several months ago by
encouraging all Iraqi factions to review developments in
Iraq and appealed to them to join him in saving their
country.

"Iraqis now have enough time to have intelligent discussion
about what happened, and to enact plans to save their
country--no one will save their country but them. This large
gathering includes bona fide people and is supported by
decent powers in the world.We congratulate the national
unity conference for this great historical accomplishment
and congratulations to Dr. Allawi also."

D. "Let Us Turn the Next Page"
(Al-Fourat, independent, anti coalition, published this last-
page editorial by Dawood Al-Farhan)

"The chatty and cheerful demeanor displayed by the
transitional president, Mr. Jalal Al-Talabani, at the
National Assembly celebrating the last-minute amendments to
the draft Iraqi constitution cannot conceal the tense
situation that blankets the entire country. Talabani wanted
to inspire Iraqis by demonstrating that disparate political
groups have reached agreement regarding the disputed
articles in the constitution.

"The speeches made by other representatives in the
parliament were similar [to Talabani's] however the Iraqi
Islamic Party representative tried to justify the change in
his position, in agreement with the draft constitution, by
arguing that the amendments will satisfy the party's demands
for now but that they hope for substantial changes in the
future.

"Regardless of the president's witty answers to the press,
telling them the exact number of verses in the Qur'an
[responding to a previous challenge], what happened inside
the Green Zone that night is nothing short of deception;
self-deception and deception of others! Everyone knows that
there were no meaningful amendments to the draft
constitution-the changes were like taking Valium to ease
tension and ensure the referendum would pass easily, and
with minimal damage.

"If two-thirds of the voters (in three provinces) reject the
draft constitution it means that sectarian or ethnic
majorities in Iraq rejected amendments in order to achieve
their goals outlined in this `premature' draft constitution.

"Now the referendum party is over. The Iraqi government
demonstrated democracy through its enactment of extended
military operations against residents in rebellious western
parts of Iraq in order to pave the way for referendum day.
They arrested thousands and imprisoned them, especially
those from rebellious provinces. They intentionall
conducted random distributon of ballot in reellius
povices mposed curfes, and created special polling
centers in Baghdad for residents of Al-Anbar-how were they
supposed to vote? All kinds of obstacles and barriers were
placed in front of voters who only wanted to reach polling
centers to vote. And finally, some ballot boxes were lost
and others stolen from polling centers.

"Moreover, the security plan to protect voting centers was
designed by the interior police, which we consider a [Shi'a]
sectarian militia, who pushed aside the Iraqi Army and
coalition forces to the outer circles protecting the polling
stations. In addition, those militias performed precisely as
directed by their leaders in order to protect the voters and
later to transport the ballot boxes.

"We are waiting for the referendum results. I am not a
fortune-teller but I understand the government will ensure
the constitution's passage no matter what hurdles they have
to jump. President Bush gambled his reputation (if any
remains) and political future to make Iraqis sectarian and
guarantee the draft constitution passes and succeeds. The
Iraqi government is doing its part to negate any attempts at
rejection of the constitution.
They have declared that the draft constitution is the main
key to providing Iraqis with: security, public services,
stability, and a flourishing economy; we'll even be able to
enter the gates of heaven with the same key.

"Can we turn the next page? Yes, do you know why? Because of
the occupation forces. In any case, we can watch the
prosperity of the historic achievement they are talking
about and at the same time those who believe in national
unity and Iraqi unity and who are against sectarianism
should prepare for intensive participation in the coming
parliamentary elections and exercise their presence in the
political process."

E. "Probable Suspicions"
(Al-Da'wa, no bias, affiliated with the Al-Da'wa Islamic
Party led by Al-Anzi, published this page-two editorial by
Jasim Al-Sayid)

"The entire world, including the enemies of Iraq, has
witnessed the success of the constitutional process in
accordance with international criteria and public scrutiny.
Many developed countries have praised the discipline,
commitment, and security procedures during the referendum on
the constitution. Some international and official parties
even described the process as an incredible practice of
democracy.

"Iraqis, by all good efforts, were directed towards ballots
peacefully and in a civilized manner that surprised enemies
and foiled their dirty speculations about sectarianism and
sedition. Their last chance at that was incinerated by the
Iraqi people who went to the polls challenging danger and
omnipresent risks of death.

"We are waiting for the announcement of the formal results
by the IECI, [Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq] but
we suspect that there are some groups which have decided
(even before the referendum) to accuse others of vote-
rigging. They must understand that the days of publicly
forging election results and forcing citizens to say `Yes'
are gone."

SATTERFIELD

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