Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraqi Government, Constitution,

Published: Mon 19 Sep 2005 06:06 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.0. 12958: N/A
SUMMARY: Discussion on the Constitution and Terrorism were
the major editorial themes of the daily newspapers on
September 19, 2005. END SUMMARY.
A. "The Birth of the Constitution was Typical yet Advanced"
(Az-Zaman, 9/19)
B. "Revision" (Al-Adala, 9/19)
C. "We Have Debated Our Constitution for the Benefit of the
Americans over Iraqis"
(Al-Qasid, 9/19)
D. "How to Maintain a Healthy Democracy" (Al-Taakhi, 9/19)
A. "The Birth of the Constitution was Typical yet Advanced"
(Az-Zaman, independent, recently anti-coalition, published
the page-fifteen column by Murtadha Hadi Shahtoor about the
"Preparations for drafting our permanent Iraqi constitution
were different from other well-known methods for drafting
constitutions in modern countries. Modern states have
typically used their constitutions as frameworks to plan
policies, insure human rights and freedom, and to implement
law and order. In spite of all the terrorism that has
prevailed in Iraq and the absence of an Iraqi national
compact (combined with the occupation of Iraq), a committee
was established to draft our constitution.
"In fact, there are several ways to draft constitution and
throughout the world it is different for each country. These
methods depend on the political awareness and maturity of
each nation. Generally, there are two styles of
constitutions drafting. The first is the non-democratic
style which is represented by the `borrowed constitution.'
This means that a ruler relinquishes some of his authority
to his people in accordance with the provision of a borrowed
constitution draft, such as: the French constitution in
1814, the Russian constitution in 1906, and the Egyptian
constitution in 1923.
"The second is a contract constitution which means that a
ruler bestows the constitution through cooperation between
him and his people. This kind of constitution can be seen in
the constitutions of: France in 1830, Greece in 1844,
Romania in 1864, and Bulgaria in 1879... The democratic
style comes in two ways also. The first is through a
national assembly, where people elect a body to draft a
constitution. We can see this type of constitution in:
Belgium in 1831, Austria in 1920, India in 1949, and
Pakistan in 1956.
This second model is also represented by the referendum-like
constitutions of Iraq in 1921, Italy in 1947 and Turkey in
"I think that referendums can develop people's political
ability and increase their participation in the process.
With regards to our current constitution, we can see that
the TAL has merged the two former types of constitutions. A
national assembly was elected and that assembly established
a committee to draft a constitution and this constitution
must be approved by a referendum. The TAL has stated that
this constitution can be rejected if two-thirds of voters in
three provinces reject it. We think that the constitutional
committee has been open to all Iraqi sects and we hope that
the referendum will be successful for the sake of those
efforts made to achieve our people's anticipations."
B. "Revision"
(Al-Adala, affiliated with SCIRI led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim,
published this page-three column by Dr. Ali Khalif)
"Recent terrorist attacks have been dominated by slogans and
incidents that have proven their treachery. These attacks
have recently changed their methods, from general targets to
specific ones-Zarqawi announced that he will target the
Shi'a. He actually should have said this at the beginning of
his campaign since his target all along has been the Shi'a.
"We need to think again about Zarqawi's statement and the
statements of the organizations and the associations that
condemned his statement. The most important thing is that
those associations' statements have proven that Zarqawi is
alive and present where many other associations in the past
have denied his existence... Zarqawi loathes the "Shiites
because he is a creation of the deposed dictator who had the
same hatred towards them. Zarqawi represents a segment of
the series of genocide the former regime perpetrated against
the Shi'a. Zarqawi could not hide his hatred when he accused
patriotic and political Islamic groups that fought the
former regime of killing the Iraqi people in an attempt to
provoke sectarianism within Iraq's community...
"We want to establish a new Iraq, which must be free from
terrorism, injustice and tyranny. Hence, every one should
work in order to achieve this goal and we should not remain
silent about any genocide that may be committed against the
Iraqi people. Many statements have been published condemning
governmental operations against terrorists but it is not
easy to understand whether or not these statements condemn
terror because they use misleading expressions that make it
difficult to determine their stance. These expressions have
different meanings but in fact they attack the government
more than condemning terrorism.
"Some groups must revise their policies to bring them in
line with the current reality. Indeed, there is no more
tyranny and the political competition in this country must
be civil--it can not depend on killing, beheading and
kidnapping. We call on those groups to stop accusing others
and join in the current political process. They should not
think about their former dreams which evaporated when the
sun of freedom and democracy rose in Iraq."
C. "We Have Debated Our Constitution for the Benefit of the
Americans over Iraqis"
(Al-Qasid, independent, published this back-page editorial
by Mariam Al-Sunati)
"As usual, our patriotic government has discussed Iraq's
domestic affairs abroad. Last week, senior Iraqi leaders
visited the U.S. and other countries and perhaps these
visits are important in a normal situation but in a
situation similar to the current Iraqi situation citizens do
not care about such visits. Regarding the Iraqi
constitution, which was submitted to the United Nations,
there are many citizens who do not know anything about the
articles of that constitution.
"The IECI wanted to educate Iraqis about the constitution
through the use of posters or commercials however we know
that the constitution cannot be explained to people through
such materials. Nevertheless, we were eager to hear the
latest developments of National Assembly speaker Hachim Al-
Hassani's meeting with the Speaker of the House Dennis
Hastert. We knew that they discussed the political and
constitutional process, as well as the security situation in
Iraq. They confirmed that it was necessary to provide all
suitable conditions to make the referendum successful. Thus,
this visit was aimed to explain the referendum's process.
But, we do not know how this visit will affect the
constitutional process, which is most important for Iraqi
political parties, civil society organizations and ordinary
"The Iraqi National Assembly speaker should have established
committees to explain the importance of the constitution's
articles and paragraphs throughout the country. More than
75% of Iraqis do not know about the constitution's articles,
especially those articles agreed on between the United Iraqi
Alliance and the Kurdish Coalition. We know that these two
main lists have made some amendments to the draft
constitution in consultation with the American Ambassador,
who was a mediator and solved some crises.
"We do not care if the constitution was explained to the
Americans but we care about its explanation to the Iraqi
people--we want them to know about the articles and
paragraphs it contains. Iraqi citizens are fed up with
television symposia that speak about the constitution
because these fora do not give citizens any information on
the constitution's articles or paragraphs. Iraqi citizens do
not even know how many pages there are in the draft
constitution because our newspapers haven't gotten them yet.
On the other hand, the United Nations and the United States
know all those details because the draft constitution
reached them before it reached the Iraqi people."
D. "How to Maintain a Healthy Democracy"
(Al-Taakhi, affiliated with KDP, pro-coalition, published
this front-page editorial by editor in chief Badrkhan Al-
"The value of democracy, like any other ideology, is only
equal to the space it occupies on paper if it's not
transformed into actions and implemented socially,
economically, and politically.
"We can classify democracy into two realms: healthy and
sick. Most leaders and politicians, of course, call for a
healthy democracy, not a sick one. It's better not to have a
democracy than to have an unhealthy one. In the case of non-
democratic regimes we find that society is continually in a
condition of struggling and anticipating the emergence of
democracy. Whole societies remain disappointed and
suspicious; the question is how did they become sick?
"Dysfunctional democracies emerge from the top when rulers,
who have been selected by the people, begin becoming
tyrants, ruling tyrannically and dismissing any democratic
traditions-they forget that power is for the people and not
for the rulers. Sickness also infects democracy from the
bottom up through disorders, lack of a cohesive social
fabric, and lack of security.
"In the case of Iraq, it seems that both factors have
contributed to create the current drama. But, it's still not
too late to rule out the emergence of a democratic scene in
Iraq. In order to fight any form of dictatorship or act that
affects the democratic path it is necessary to practice self-
criticism and truthfulness as an essential duty of
patriotism-individually or in political groups. For we are
all passengers of the same ship and we don't want to leave
anyone to drown or be left behind; we believe we are
responsible for working hard to avert chaos and sectarian
infighting that may lead to civil war.
"There is a call in to the Iraqi government requesting that
it work hard and be aware in its dealings with the daily
running of the country to ensure the goal is to serve all
Iraqis. This is the best way to ensure that democracy in
Iraq is healthy and that we're on the right path."
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