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October 12, 2005

Deal Reached On Iraqi Constitution; One Sunni Group Announces Support

Good news:

Days before a crucial vote on a draft constitution, Iraqi negotiators say they've reached a deal on the document.

That prompted at least one Sunni Arab group to announce it will now vote in favor of it.

That's the first break in ranks among Sunni Arab leaders, who've been campaigning against the draft constitution in Saturday's vote. Shiite and Kurdish leaders support it.

While Iraqis prepare for that constitutional referendum, bombings and shootings have killed nearly 50 people in the span of a few hours. Most of the dead are civilians.

Liberal-slash-idiot Kevin Drum is, of course, quite down on the positive news:

It takes the Washington Post nine paragraphs before they get around to telling us what this compromise entails, but here it is:
The major concession from Tuesday's talks was agreement by the Shiites and Kurds that a committee be created early next year to consider amendments to the constitution....Any changes recommended by the committee would have to be ratified by a two-thirds vote of parliament and a national referendum.

That's it? A committee will "consider" amendments? And even if they recommend some, they still won't go anywhere unless they get broad Shiite and Kurdish support in parliament followed by majority support in a referendum?

Somebody really needs to explain what the Sunnis think they're getting here. It sounds like nothing more than a vague brush off to me. Just vote for the constitution now and we promise to seriously consider your objections at a later day. Honest.

I'm all in favor of anything that makes a peaceful transition in Iraq more likely, but I've read half a dozen stories about this agreement and every one of them makes it sound like at least some Sunnis are ecstatic over this deal. Conversely, none of them mention that it's essentially meaningless.

And this is a bad thing... how?

Here's a possible reading: the Sunnis are beginning to accept that they are no longer the masters of Iraq, and even more important, that simply butchering schoolteachers and blowing up police stations is very unlikely to return them to power.

So they're taking the best deal possible given their weak political position. Accepting reality. Understanding now that, while they have some power, they have only the power of a decided minority.

Does this solve all of the problems in Iraq? Will it appease all Sunnis? Of course not. But first things first-- passing the constitution is a major political and propagandistic achievement.

And most political problems are never "solved," anyhow. They are perpetually kicked down the road through compromises and promises of revisiting the issues at a later date. The issue of slavery, for example, wasn't really resolved in 1789, either.

Thanks to the Blogometer.

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posted by Ace at 05:01 PM

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