Monday, August 15, 2005

War News for Monday, August 15, 2005 Bring 'em on: Four Iraqi soldiers killed by roadside bomb in Fallujah. Bring 'em on: Three Iraqis killed and two wounded in checkpoint attack in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqis killed and five wounded in suicide bomb attack in Al Mahawil. Bring 'em on: Grave containing thirty mutulated bodies, including two females, discovered in Awerij. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi policemen found shot dead in Samarra. Bring 'em on: One Iraqi border patrol officer killed and three wounded in gun attack in Imam Wes. Bring 'em on: Police officer killed and three wounded in an attack on their patrol in Kirkuk. Hospital Visit: One day a nurse came in to ask Rodgers if he wanted to meet President Bush, who was visiting the hospital. Rodgers declined. "I don't want anything to do with him," he explains. "My belief is that his ego is getting people killed and mutilated for no reason -- just his ego and his reputation. If we really wanted to, we could pull out of Iraq. Maybe not completely, but enough that we wouldn't be losing people -- at least not at this rate. So I think he himself is responsible for quite a few American deaths." Constitution No Constitution:
Iraqi lawmakers struggled to avert a political crisis on Monday and meet a midnight deadline for presenting the draft of a new constitution to parliament. Political leaders and the 71 members of the constitutional drafting committee began crucial talks on the charter, still without agreement on at least two fundamental issues -- federal autonomy and the role of Islam in the state. Hussain al-Shahristani, the deputy speaker of parliament, said talks would continue until midday (0800 GMT), at which point a decision would have to be taken on whether to present a draft to parliament or whether to look at more dramatic options. A special evening session of parliament has been scheduled for 6 p.m. to consider the document. Last year's interim charter, known as the TAL, laid down August 15 as the deadline for completing a draft of the new constitution, which must be voted on in an October referendum. According to the TAL, if no draft of the constitution is completed by August 15, the National Assembly should be dissolved and elections for a new assembly must be held before December 15, 2005. But such a dramatic turn of events appears unlikely. If there is a constitution, voting will also be held by that date. "The first option is that everyone agrees on a draft of the constitution and it is presented to the National Assembly for approval on time," Shahristani told Reuters. Another possibility, he said, was for the National Assembly to vote and, if three quarters of the house agree, to amend the TAL to allow more time to draft the new constitution. "That is a very likely possibility," he said, adding that if that route were taken an extension of between two weeks and one month would likely be sought. Yonadem Kanna, a Christian member of the drafting team, also said an extension was looking more likely.
Failure: Iraq's political heavyweights, struggling to overcome deep differences over oil and Islam, failed to agree on a draft constitution Sunday despite the expectations of U.S. and Iraqi officials. The failure surprised legislators of the 275-member transitional National Assembly who had gathered to examine, discuss and vote on a proposed charter, which President Jalal Talabani had announced would be delivered by Sunday. Fuck the Sunni: Shiite negotiators are considering cutting Sunnis out of the drafting process by asking the National Assembly to approve the draft without agreement from Sunnis. Fuck the Sunni again: "We can still prepare the draft without the Sunnis," Kurdish constitution panelist Mahmud Othman said. "All the groups elected in the national assembly can come together and prepare the draft." Opinion and Commentary Robert Fisk:
Behind ramparts of concrete and barbed wire, the framers of Iraq’s new constitution wrestled yesterday to prevent - or bring about - the federalisation of Iraq while their compatriots in the hot and fetid streets outside showed no interest in their efforts. Today is supposed to be "C" day, according to President Bush and all the others who illegally invaded this country in 2003. However, in " real" Baghdad - where the President and Prime Minister and the constitutional committee never set foot - they ask you about security, about electricity, about water, about when the occupation will end, when the murders will end, when the rapes will end. They talk, quite easily, about the "failed" Jaafari government, so blithely elected by Shias and Kurds last January. "Failed" because it cannot protect its own people. "Failed" because it cannot rebuild its own capital city - visible to it between the Crusader-like machine-gun slits in the compound walls - and because it cannot understand, let alone meet, the demands of the "street". In the Alice-in-Wonderland Iraq of Messrs Bush and Blair - inhabited, too, by the elected government of Iraq and its constitutional drafters and quite a few Western journalists - there are no such problems to cope with. The air-conditioners hiss away - there are generators to provide 24-hour power - and almost all senior officials have palatial homes in the heavily protected "Green Zone" which was once Saddam Hussein’s Republican Palace compound. No power cuts for them, no petrol queues, no kidnaps and murders. As an Iraqi academic just returned from Paris and Brussels told me yesterday: "Europeans understand politics through the Green Zone level. They have no idea that the rest of Iraq - save for Kurdistan - is a place of anarchy and death. One asked me: ’Do you think federalism is really a danger to the Sunni?’ I answered him: ’Do you think the fear of constant death is not a danger to Sunnis, Shia and Kurds?’ His eyes glazed over. It was not what he wanted to talk about. But it is what we talk about." Those few Iraqis who bother to read the government press in Baghdad - their low circulation mirrors the same phenomenon of disbelief that existed under Saddam’s regime - are told every nuance of the constitutional debate. The name of the state has been agreed (The Iraqi Republic), the distribution of financial resources according to demographic areas rather than provinces (bad news for the Kurds), and that Islam should be "one" of the sources of legislation (bad news for those who want an Islamic republic). There is a "constitutional committee" and a "constitutional commission" (comprising 55 elected parliamentary deputies) with 15 unelected Sunnis (because the Sunni population largely boycotted last January’s election), each committee divided into five sub-committees, each one studying one chapter in the constitution. The actual writers of this massive document - they allegedly include at least two professors - remain anonymous for "security reasons". And all live in the heavily guarded Green Zone, safe - more or less - from the insurgents and, more importantly, safer from ordinary Iraqis who have to endure the violence of the American occupation, the oppression of the insurgents and the daily threat of mass, organised crime.


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