Baghdad Burning

… I’ll meet you ’round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend…

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Referendum…

So the referendum is tomorrow- well, technically speaking, today.
We’ve been having more than the usual power outages. Government officials were saying `power problems’, `overload’, etc. for the last two days and then suddenly changed their minds today and claimed it was `sabotage’. It’s difficult to tell. All we know is that large parts of Baghdad are literally in the dark. We’re currently on generator electricity. Water has been cut off for the last two days with the exception of an occasional dribble that lasts for ten to fifteen minutes from a faucet in the garden. We have a nice big pot under it to catch as much water as possible.

Private cars haven’t been allowed to drive in the streets since Thursday- this will last until Sunday. It’s been declared a `holiday’ of sorts. Everyone is at home. In spite of these security measures, there were several explosions today.

The referendum promises to be somewhat confusing. People are saying it should be postponed. Now is not the right time. More changes were made a few days ago to the supposed `final’ draft of the constitution- the one that was submitted to the UN. It was allegedly done to appease Sunnis.

The trouble is that it didn’t address the actual problems Iraqis have with the constitution (Sunnis and Shia alike). The focus of negotiations by `Sunni representatives’ seemed to revolve around Iraq’s Arab identity and de-Ba’athification. A clause has also been added which says that the constitution will be subject to change (quelle surprise! Yet again!) with the new government after the next elections. That doesn’t make me feel better because changes can work both ways: if the next `elected’ government is, again, non-secular, pro-Iran, the amendments made to what is supposed to be a permanent constitution will be appalling.

Iraq’s Arab identity, due to its Arab majority, won’t be reduced just because it isn’t stated over and over again in a constitution. It’s as if the people negotiating the constitution chose to focus on the minute, leaving the more important issues aside. Issues like guaranteeing Iraq’s unity and guaranteeing that it won’t be turned into an Islamic state modeled on Iran.

The referendum is only hours away and the final version of the constitution still hasn’t reached many people. Areas with a Sunni majority are complaining that there aren’t polling stations for kilometers around- many of these people don’t have cars and even if they did, what good would it do while there’s a curfew until Sunday? Polling stations should be easily accessible in every area.

This is like déjà vu from January when people in Mosul and other Sunni areas complained that they didn’t have centers to vote in or that their ballot boxes never made it to the counting stations.

American media is trying to make it sound like Sunnis have suddenly been mollified with the changes made in a flurry of covert meetings these last few days, but the reality is that the only Sunni party openly supporting the constitution is the Iraqi Islamic Party which represents a very, very small percentage of Sunnis.

Most educated Iraqis want to vote against the constitution. This makes the fact that Iraqis abroad aren’t being allowed to vote this time around worrisome. Why was it vital for them to vote for a temporary government back in January but it’s not necessary for them to contribute to this referendum which will presumably decide a permanent constitution for generations and generations of Iraqis? Could it be that the current Iranian inclined government knew that many Iraqis abroad didn’t like the constitution because of federalism, women’s rights, and the mention of no laws to be placed which contradict Islam?

Iraqis are going to be voting according to religious clerics and, in some areas, tribal sheikhs. They aren’t going to be voting according to their convictions or their understanding of what is supposed to be a document that will set the stage for Iraqi laws and regulations. Juan Cole wrote about an example of this with Muqtada Al-Sadr’s followers:

The young Shiite nationalist, Muqtada al-Sadr, advised his followers to consult the ruling of Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri (resident in Qom, Iran) concerning how to deal with the constitution. He said that this was an issue that required independent juridical reasoning (ijtihad).

That’s all we need- it’s not enough that Zalmay Khalilzad is gushing over the constitution- all we need now is another cleric (stationed in Iran this time) to influence the masses.

Ok- it’s almost dawn and I’m exhausted. I wasn’t able to connect all day to post this.

– posted by river @ 4:25 AM

War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is
satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone
has lost. : Karl Kraus (1874-1936)


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

If that is true than



This is a Silent Honor Roll shown on the PBS ‘News Hour’, now Almost Daily, that was started at the Beginning!

As of Today, 10-15-05 there are 49 Pages with 5 ‘Honor Roll’ links per page!

If you take the Time to View ‘ALL’ the Pages/Photo’s and Information Instill This Thought Into Each American Military Face You See, ‘Try and Picture 30, 40, 50, 60 or More Iraqi Faces, Children-Women-Men, Killed for Each Of These Faces You Are Looking At’

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