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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 05 BAGHDAD 004368

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 RECONCILATION, AMR MUSA, SADDAM
HUSSEIN'S TRIAL; BAGHDAD

SUMMARY: Discussion on the Constitution, Referendum,
National Reconciliation, Amr Musa, and Saddam Hussein's
Trial were the major editorial themes of the daily
newspapers on October 23, 2005. END SUMMARY.

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

A. "Why Musa's Mission Was Easy" (Az-Zaman, 10/23)
B. "No" (Al-Sabah, 10/23)
C. "The People's Tribunal" (Al-Fourat, 10/23)
D. "Lessons of the Referendum" (Al-Ihtijah Al-Akhar, 10/23)
E. "Saddam's Trial and the Referendum" (Al-Ittihad, 10/23)
F. "Neither Victors nor Vanquished" (Al-Fourat, 10/23)
G. "People Want a New Iraq, Stable and Prosperous" (Al-
Taakhi, 10/23)

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

A. "Why Musa's Mission Was Easy"
(Az-Zaman, independent, anti-coalition published this back-
page editorial by Fatih Abdul Salam)

"If we examine what the media predicted about Musa's visit
we'll find some strange issues. The media insisted that Amr
Musa, the Arab League's Secretary General, would face
difficulties in Baghdad due to the difficult situation in
Iraq. On the contrary, his visit was easy and most battles
were over by the time he arrived. He encountered three types
of Iraqis:

1) Iraqis who had died and relinquished power.
2) Iraqis who were dying but clinging to power.
3) Iraqis who were dying but still dreaming of gaining
power.

"These three types represent the original characteristics of
Iraqi politicians-force is the common theme among them. Some
might say the democratic election and referendum has proven
the opposite but let us not deceive ourselves. We have
practiced democracy under occupation and although we
recognize a certain type of it, what will it look like when
the occupation leaves? Our democracy is protected by foreign
forces.

"There are poles that Washington used to erect democracy but
when the occupiers leave we will be under a tent of
democracy without any poles-though democracy will remain
because the occupation will not leave Iraq!"

B. "No"
(Al-Sabah, affiliated with the pro-coalition Iraqi Media
Network, published this front-page editorial by Muhammad
Abdul Jabbar)

"Those who headed to the ballot boxes on referendum day
(October 15) and voted `no' to the constitution deserve our
respect. Yes, they are against the constitution and they
rejected it but they ensured their participation in the
peaceful political process and that is the most important
thing at this decisive stage. They followed civilized
behavior in dealing with political issues.They did not
brandish weapons, they did not fire a single bullet, they
did not throw a hand grenade or detonate a car bomb against
the voting centers, they did not assassinate people. but
simply headed to voting centers and voted `no.' Perhaps they
were not sure that their no-votes would stop the
constitutional process. They probably did not have time to
organize an advertising campaign to influence public opinion-
-perhaps they do not have funds for such campaigns...
However, they decided to be honest with themselves and with
others.

"Real democracy needs peaceful political opposition because
in a democracy there is no political majority (I would like
to emphasize political, not ethnic or religious sects)
ruling the country with absolute authorities and without
effective opposition. Democracy means a state of settled
establishments and enterprises based on the rule of law; it
means a vital and effective civil society and qualified
government capable of securing public services.
There are many reasons to create opposition against any
government (inside or out of the parliament) but the most
important thing about the opposition is that it be peaceful.

"What is important about the opposition is it should know
the principles of the democratic political game and respect
it. This will grant and protect the political process from
all improper struggles. In addition, this is the why we
respect those who participated by voting `no' to the draft
constitution. We also have great respect for those who voted
`yes' because the political process should never marginalize
other sects and in this way we'll grant credibility to
democratic process and guarantee our political security
which will lead to social security and free us from fear."
C. "The People's Tribunal"
(Al-Fourat independent anti-coalition published this page-
three editorial by Abdul Zahra Al-Talqani)

"Saddam is not merely an accused person standing trial
before Iraqi justice, but rather he is a convicted criminal
who is responsible for committing numerous crimes against
his people-and this is the people's tribunal against him.

"It is typical that Saddam keep quiet in court, which
represents the people's will, because what could he possibly
say about the millions of citizens he sent to death
throughout Iraq.
What murders could he deny? How could he defend himself in
the middle of a sea of blood? But the people have not kept
silent and have repeated their call for the death of this
criminal.

"No one escaped from Saddam's sadistic mentality of
aggression; even those in areas supposedly filled with his
supporters didn't escape his wrath. He thought he would
achieve immortality by erecting pictures and statues of
himself or by the daily commissioning of poems of flattery,
but all attempts were illusionary and ephemeral. Tyrants
throughout history have always been dumped into the garbage
and individuals such as Saddam do not deserve any dignity;
they must accept their punishment in this life and on the
Day of Judgment."

D. "Lessons of the Referendum"
(Al-Ihtijah Al-Akhar, weekly, anti-coalition, affiliated
with the [Sunni] Liberation and Reconciliation Bloc led by
Mish'an Al-Jabouri, published this page-three unattributed
editorial)

"There are important lessons learned from the referendum,
the first being that the percentage of `no' votes in some
provinces was unexpected; especially on behalf of sectarian
and religious parties who were surprised by results showing
that 45% of citizens in Najaf voted `no.' Percentages that
were similar to those in other central and south-central
provinces. These influential and tyrannical parties should
learn a lesson from the voting results of Najaf's citizens
and face the truth that Iraqis do not want their state built
on the foundations of a religious and sectarian base.

"The results from Najaf and other provinces have
disappointed those parties and surely the coming
parliamentary election will bring more surprises for them.
The rejecters of the constitution who were ready to topple
the referendum have suffered division amongst their ranks
when the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) altered its stance due to
incomprehensible circumstances which created disappointment
for citizens of the [Sunni] western provinces. Therefore,
some of them have rejected voting altogether while others
were confused over how to vote.

"We have mentioned many times that there is no authority for
the Sunni Arab that can represent their affairs, because
these groups have been founded according to a secular
liberal ideology, although they respect the role of
religious authorities.

"The coming months will prove that a state based on religion
and sectarianism will never be constituted in Iraq--at
anytime."

E. "Saddam's Trial and the Referendum"
(Al-Ittihad, pro-coalition, affiliated with the PUK led by
Jalal Talabani, published this page-four editorial by Abdul
Moniem Al-A'ssam)
"There is a strong connection between the referendum on the
constitution and Saddam's trial--not only in the close dates
but also because they represent a transition from the non-
constitutional stage to the constitutional stage-a
transition from fabricated referendums, which oppose all the
natural laws of the universe and result in only `yes' votes
rather than allowing the possibility of `no' votes as
reflected in the natural world.
"While Saddam entered his cage and faced accusations about
his crimes in Dujail, Halabja, Al-Anfal, the mass graves,
killing of the innocent in torture chambers, the destruction
of the marshes, and the beheading of groves of date palms,
the referendum on the constitution represented the
prosecutor who will not be satisfied until punishing the
criminal that harmed millions (regardless of the outcome);
it is the voters who will deliver their justice.

"There was tension among the media when the tyrant stood in
his cage-it reminded Iraqis of the era of dictatorship when
they lived at the whim of Saddam's mercy. No one expected to
ever see Saddam questioned by a judge. Actually, no one
expected they would live to see the day Saddam faced
justice. In order to put these two historical events into
suitable historic perspective we need to comprehend the
following fact: Saddam's trial is the first legal
questioning of an Arab leader for the crimes he committed,
so it's regarded as a trial for all Arab regimes which have
deteriorated to the lowest standards. On the other hand the
referendum in Iraq is regarded as a no-go zone throughout
the region because it can't be controlled by rulers.

"In spite of Saddam's pledge of innocence, and even if he
had pleaded guilty, his presence in the cage to face crimes
against humanity (which even monsters do not face) is
regarded as transition of an era-from the law of the jungle
to one of justice. The people have broken free of their
shackles and forced the evil ruler to face his fate."

F. "Neither Victors nor Vanquished"
(Al-Fourat, independent, anti coalition, published this back-
page editorial by Dawood Al-Farhan)

"There is synchronicity between the Secretary General of the
Arab League, Amr Musa's visit to Baghdad on a mission to
promote inter-Iraqi dialogue and achieve what was called a
national accord and the first national unity conference in
Baghdad attended by more than one thousand political leaders
representing sixty Iraqi parties, Iraqi-Arab political
movements, and international organizations. Both the visit
and the conference are attempts to free Iraq and Iraqis from
the dark tunnel the American occupation put us in since
April 2003, causing chaos, violence, and doubts, which
threaten Iraq's unity.

"The draft constitution failed to relieve us from serious
danger and regardless of the results of the referendum, with
all the rumors of vote-rigging we should all agree there
will be no victors and no vanquished. Iraqis went to the
ballot boxes to express their opinions freely by either
voting `yes' or `no' to the constitution but both are Iraqis
and have rights and responsibilities towards their country.
This is the foundation of a real democracy in Iraq, more
than one attitude, more than one opinion and the ability to
speak freely.

"Amr Musa was articulate when he announced that he was
heading to Baghdad carrying an Arab initiative aimed to
support Iraq and reinforce Iraqi-Arab dialogue. In addition,
he will present his initiative to Iraqi political leaders on
behalf of all Arab countries as the representative of the
Arab League. His mission is to seek an Iraqi national accord
as a supplementary part related to the political process
taking place in Iraq. To what extent Amr Musa will succeed
in his precise and difficult mission depends on the Iraqi
government's attitude, the U.S. government's attitude as an
occupation force and the attitudes of others such as the
opposition, independent parties, fighters, and civil society
organizations.

"The Iraqi government will maintain its stance (as they
usually declare during Arab League meetings) rejecting
principles of national reconciliation claiming that there is
no controversy or arguments between different Iraqi sects.
Amr Musa will hear a lot from others who are not affiliated
with the Iraqi government--those who are now talking, in the
first national unity conference, about an Iraqi national
project to confront the sectarian and ethnic devastation
that currently dominates our country.
"After the referendum results, it would be better for the
transitional government, its National Assembly and the
Presidential Council to quit their political arrogance and
build upon the previous election because voters who rejected
the constitution and voted `no' are more numerous than
expected in all Iraqi provinces--even in the northern part
of Iraq.
The Iraqi government should consider those voters; they will
significantly influence the next election. The Iraqi
government should cooperate with Amr Musa's mission
otherwise they will blow their political message about
national unity, commitments to the Arab League compact and
their respect for human rights. In any case, this government
is on its way out."

G. "People Want a New Iraq, Stable and Prosperous"
(Al-Taakhi, KDP, pro coalition, published this page-five
editorial by Adil Badir Al-Ryahi)

"The elected national government of our new Iraq is seeking
to reset the basis for security and stability all over the
country--in order to be able to build national institutions
and arrive at a new, stable, secure and prosperous country,
which would be able to hold a historical and respectful
position in the world.

"While the enemies (the terrorists) seek to destroy the
infrastructure and work hard to publicize sectarian and
ethnic sedition, they overlook the fact that national unity
and the power of the interior front has made sure this card
has fallen forever.

"Further, the noble Iraqi people are the only ones making
decisions; they are looking forward to building a federal,
new, secure and thriving Iraq--one whose land is shared by
everyone; one which is not manipulated by one group or
another; one in which society achieves construction and
prosperity by standing behind the national leadership
represented by the new government.There also is a national
accountability shared by all--the cooperation and immediate
informing about the safe houses of the enemies in order to
reach them in the early stages, before the situation become
aggravated and deters security and stability. Concerned
national institutions also should take into account the
fields of security, stability and cooperation with
neighboring countries in order to approve joint security
treaties and prevent infiltration.

"The prosperity of the country is also the responsibility of
civil institutions that should engage their pioneering role
in providing the best essential services for Iraqi citizens.
They should secure food requirements for all Iraqis by
getting and providing the items in the food ration cards and
ensuring fair distribution for all Iraqi families.

"There also is another role to be played by productive
institutions: one which guarantees that the requirements of
the local market and imports are covered, as is any surplus
of Iraqi production outside the country, which would provide
foreign currency which will help the economy flourish and
prosper and which may ensure Iraqis happy and affluent
lives."

SATTERFIELD

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