Sheeites Stack The Deck


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bountyhunter
October 4, 2005, 07:15 PM
In case you had any doubt there was a civil war coming in Iraq....

Iraqi law previously said that if 2/3 of the voters in any three of the 18 provinces vote against the newly proposed constitution, then it would not be adopted. This let the Sunnis have some say because they have a majority in four of the provinces.

To make sure they are totally blocked from any power, the Sheeites today changed it to say that the proposed constitution will not pass ONLY if 2/3 of ALL REGISTERED VOTERS in the region vote against it..... not simply 2/3 of the votes cast. FYI, typical turnout in elections here is like 40% of registered voters.



The new interpretation of the rules declares that two-thirds of registered voters must vote "no" not two-thirds of those who actually vote.





U.N. Criticizes Changes to Constitution Vote
Tuesday, October 04, 2005


BAGHDAD, Iraq U.S. and U.N. officials urged the Shiite-led government Tuesday to reverse last-minute changes to voting rules for a referendum on Iraq's new constitution and head off a threatened Sunni boycott.

The crisis emerged less than two weeks before the Oct. 15 vote and just a day after the U.N. began distributing 5 million copies of the constitution to voters.

The United Nations (search) sharply criticized the changes which make it nearly impossible for the Sunni minority to defeat the charter at the polls and warned that they violate international standards.

Sunni Arab leaders are opposed to the draft constitution that Washington hopes will unite Iraq's disparate factions and erode support for the country's bloody insurgency, paving the way to eventually begin withdrawing foreign troops.

But a boycott by the minority would deeply undermine the credibility of the vote and wreck efforts to bring Sunnis into the political process.

Iraq's Shiite-dominated parliament passed the new rules on Sunday, effectively closing the loophole that would have given the minority a chance of vetoing the constitution by getting a two-thirds "no" vote in three provinces even if it wins majority approval nationwide. Sunni Arabs have a sufficient majority in four of Iraq's 18 provinces.

The new interpretation of the rules declares that two-thirds of registered voters must vote "no" not two-thirds of those who actually vote. The interpretation raises the bar to a level almost impossible to meet. In a province of 1 million registered voters, for example, 660,000 would have to vote "no" even if that many didn't even come to the polls.

The United Nations cried foul. "Ultimately, this will be a sovereign decision by the Iraqis, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York. "That being said, it is our duty in our role in Iraq to point out when the process does not meet international standards."

U.N. officials were meeting with members of parliament to reverse the change, Dujarric and Iraqi officials said.

"The decision will be amended depending on what we reach in agreements with the United Nations, Abbas al-Bayati, a Shiite Turkomen lawmaker on the constitutional commission, told The Associated Press. "The U.N. is seeking one interpretation for the word 'voters,"' he said.

The Americans were talking separately with the Shiite-led government, said an Iraqi lawmaker, Mahmoud Othman (search), and an official close to the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

In Washington, State Department (search) spokesman Sean McCormack declined comment on the U.S. role except to say that the new rules are a topic of discussion among Iraqi authorities.

A senior State Department official said privately that U.S. diplomats have made clear concerns about the rule change in those discussions.

A new version of the rules could be decided as early as Wednesday, and it would be put to parliament for a new vote, Othman said.

The dispute over the rule changes threatens to deepen disillusionment with the political process among Sunnis, who make up the backbone of the insurgency.

"The aim of this move is to pass the constitution and impose it on everybody regardless of their opinions," said Saleh al-Mutlaq, the main Sunni figure on the commission that drafted the constitution.

He, like other moderate Sunni Arab leaders opposed the final text but had urged followers to go to the polls to vote "no" but threatened to call a boycott over the rule change.

"Boycotting the referendum is a possible option that we are thinking of, because we believe that participating in the voting might be useless," al-Mutlaq said.

Sunnis say the constitution's strong federalist bent will tear Iraq apart into Shiite and Kurdish mini-states in the north and south, leaving the minority weak in a central region without oil resources.

Sunni Arabs boycotted January parliamentary elections, the reason for their minimal representation there and the fact that they intended to vote in the referendum even if against the charter granted it legitimacy.

But after the passage of the new rules, Sunnis accused the Shiites of using their dominance to stack the deck against the minority.

"This is fraud aimed at distorting the truth, it aims to foil any effort to bring down the constitution," said Ayad al-Samarraie, a senior official in the Iraqi Islamic Party (search), one of the main Sunni Arab groups.

The controversy centered on the definition of the word "voter."

Election rules in the interim constitution read, "The general referendum will be successful and the draft constitution ratified if a majority of the voters in Iraq approve and if two-thirds of the voters in three or more provinces do not reject it."

The committee decided that while the first reference to "voters" in the clause refers to those who cast votes, the second refers to all those registered to vote.

"There should be one interpretation for the word 'voter,' or else we will appeal over the referendum and its results," al-Samarraie said.

Election officials, meanwhile, were rushing to prepare for the referendum. About 5 million copies of the constitution, printed by the United Nations, arrived Monday in Iraq, and officials began handing them out, said Laura Makdissi, a U.N. official in Baghdad.

So far, distribution most of which will take place through agents who provide food ration cards appeared limited. In the major cities of Basra (search), Mosul (search) and Kirkuk (search) and in neighborhoods of Baghdad, residents and rationing agents said they had not seen any copies.

The U.N. mission in Iraq also said Tuesday it has delivered more than 4.4 million pounds of ballots, polling boxes and voter screens.

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Don Gwinn
October 4, 2005, 10:06 PM
"This is fraud aimed at distorting the truth, it aims to foil any effort to bring down the constitution," said Ayad al-Samarraie, a senior official in the Iraqi Islamic Party (search), one of the main Sunni Arab groups.

The controversy centered on the definition of the word "voter."

Those guys are always exaggerating. Let's see what it says, shall we?


Election rules in the interim constitution read, "The general referendum will be successful and the draft constitution ratified if a majority of the voters in Iraq approve and if two-thirds of the voters in three or more provinces do not reject it."

The committee decided that while the first reference to "voters" in the clause refers to those who cast votes, the second refers to all those registered to vote.
Very sensible. Clearly not a cynical "screw you" from people who would apparently love to have a civil war.

It doesn't necessarily mean a war, but it ain't helpin'.

Standing Wolf
October 4, 2005, 11:26 PM
Frankly, I think Iraq would have been much better off if we'd simply handed it a constitution as we did to Germany and Japan after World War II.

We should simply have shoved representative government down that sorry nation's throat and/or divided Iraq into smaller, completely separate nations. It was, after all, a concoction of the British empire, not a nation in its own right at any point in history.

Coronach
October 5, 2005, 12:53 AM
I think you're dead on with that one, SW. We went into this with the idea that Iraq would be preserved intact for (at least) two reasons:

1. Intact, it is a more powerful nation, and one that will (hopefully) be in our corner.

2. Intact, it would make things easier for Turkey, which has a substantial Kurdish population that would be scrambling for independence from Ankara and aunschluss with a newly-formed Kurdish state.

Well, Turkey showed us no love whatsoever in the final analysis, so that was all for nothing, and our only chance of making (a) functional nation-state(s) out of this might be to let Iraq fracture along demographic and geopgraphic lines (which, as luck would have it, tend to generally coincide).

Mike

Sam
October 5, 2005, 01:23 AM
We should have imposed a constitution on them but it is too late now.
Let the thing split, cut off the Sunni's from all aid.
Support the Shia so long as they behave and finance the Kurds overthrow of Turkey, who has proven to be an unreliable ally.
Let Russia know that we really don't care what happens in Iran any more
Do a hard left flank, string up Assad and take Syria.
Need to quit mesing around with the stuff. Tired of cleaning up Anglish messes. None of their nice straight lines on the map reflected anything useful.

Sam

Preacherman
October 5, 2005, 01:44 AM
The big problem is that if Iraq splinters, you have two major regional issues:

1. The Shi'ite population in southern Iraq would almost certainly ally with (perhaps even join) Iran, giving that country control over Iraq's coastline and ports and cutting it off from the Persian Gulf.

2. The Kurds in the north would be a powerful nationalist impulse to Kurdish populations in western Iran and eastern Turkey. I'm sure there would be attempts in these areas to secede from their current nations and join an expanded "Kurdistan". This would be resisted by the Iranian and Turkish governments, leading to at least armed rebellion, if not civil war.

Both of these events would be highly destabilizing to an already unstable region, and could have "spillover" effects on NATO (through Turkey), the oil-producing states around the Persian Gulf, and international geopolitics.

c_yeager
October 5, 2005, 02:12 AM
These people spent a good part of the last 30 years convincing the world that they DO NOT have the ability to govern themselves. Why dont we believe them?

To make sure they are totally blocked from any power, the Sheeites today changed it to say that the proposed constitution will not pass ONLY if 2/3 of ALL REGISTERED VOTERS in the region vote against it

This is just assinine. It means that people who have no intention in voting are actually defacto voting in favor of the state. This gives the state a vested interest is keeping people away from the ballot boxes, and it means that pressure groups using violence to keep the opposition from showing up is actually a viable option.

You arent a voter untill you cast a ballot, untill then you are just a potential vote.

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