For the third time the Iraqis have missed a self imposed deadline to seal the deal on a constitution. (According to some, they really haven’t because they turned in the draft on time on Monday.) Yesterday, the Assembly didn’t even bother to meet. It appears the Shiites have decided they’re done dealing with the Sunnis and with the National Assembly and are now talking about sending the document directly to the “people” for a vote. (Like Ahmad Chalabi said of the Sunnis, “how many votes do they have?”) The question as to whether any of this is legal hasn’t come up.
I still don’t understand why the National Assembly is involved in brokering a deal on the various disagreements that have brought this “process” to a standstill. I thought, they only voted up or down on this thing, now they’re negotiating, too?
No worries, Laith Kuba said yesterday, "By the end of the day, we should have a completed version of the draft, it will not please everybody, but there's an amendment to those three articles. The assembly will then rubber-stamp it." [KR]
Interesting choice of wording there, by the way, I don’t know whether that was a Freudian slip or he just doesn’t care, but basically, this is what has been going on all along. They’ve just shut the Sunnis out. The Shiites are going to get their Iranian backed theocracy in the south and the Kurds will retain their autonomy in the north and the Sunnis can eat dust. It’s agreed! Is this what W. meant by saying the Iraqi people were “working hard to reach a consensus on their constitution?”
It really shows you how seriously out of control W.’s handlers think things in Iraq really are, that he roused himself from his vacation to make a call to Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of Sciri, to try to get him to make a deal with the Sunnis. Hakim was the one who started this mess by insisting the Shiites wanted their own autonomous region at the 11th hour, so why are we talking to him? No word on whether Bush will be talking to the Sunnis.
The Sunnis are the only sane ones.
Unbeknownst to W., the Sunnis are the only ones who are actually saying anything about the co-opting of the entire process by the Shiite clerics. The Kurds want a secular government, too, but they feel the US isn’t doing anything to stop the Shiites, so they’re happy to let the US handle things.
Dexter Filkins in the NYT writes that, “Mahmood Othman, a Kurdish legislator, said Kurdish leaders did not vigorously oppose Islamist language [In the constitution] in part because American diplomats often did not object either.
For instance, Mr. Othman said, American diplomats had acquiesced to the language that would clear the way for clerical adjudication of family and personal disputes. ‘The Kurds thought, as long as the Americans don't object, why should we object?’ Mr. Othman said. ‘It's American policy to show that it is not opposed to Islam.’”
Ironically, the Ba’athist political ideology of “unity, freedom, and socialism,” is actually closer to what the Americans say they want for a “democratic” Iraq than what Hakim and ayatollah ali-Sistani are pushing for. Except for the “socialim” part, of course. Women had more rights under Saddam than they’re going to be left with after this is all over.
Filkins writes that, despite what W. was saying about what Condi told him about women’s rights, ‘Language reserving a quarter of the Assembly's seats for women has been relegated to a section of the constitution labeled transitional, which is of uncertain legal force and duration. Another phrase declares that education is mandatory only through elementary school. Women's rights groups, which expressed concern about lower levels of literacy among women here, wanted middle school to be declared mandatory as well, but were defeated.
‘This is the future of the new Iraqi government - it will be in the hands of the clerics,’ said Dr. Raja Kuzai, a secular Shiite member of the Assembly. ‘I wanted Iraqi women to be free, to be able to talk freely and to able to move around…I am not going to stay here,’ said Dr. Kuzai, an obstetrician and women's leader who met President Bush in the White House in November 2003.”
So, there you go. This is what is going to be hailed as a great victory for democracy and a victory for the US?
Cindy Sheehan is a mother:
You think the White House is worried about Cindy Sheehan? Yes. In his speech to the Idaho National Guard W. very cynically pointed out a mother in the crowd, named Tammy Pruett, who has four sons in Iraq and who very much supports the war. “America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts” he declared. Absolutely shameless! I guess, just losing one son isn’t sufficiently patriotic enough for Bush. Of course, it isn’t just Sheehan who is protesting this war.
Everywhere W. has gone, mothers who have either lost sons, or have sons currently serving in Iraq, have dogged him. AP reported on “Laura McCarthy of Eagle, Idaho, whose son, Gavin, 21, is in Iraq with the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th brigade, [Who] said Bush ‘'probably breathed a sigh of relief’' when he got to Idaho, a state he won easily in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. 'Guess what?’ McCarthy said. ‘'He's going to find a Cindy Sheehan in every community across the U.S.’ She might be right. Also in attendance was Brenda Mansell, from Boise, who protested about a zillion miles away from the speech in a “freedom zone.” [AP]
Mansell has just sent her Marine son off to Iraq. “This has to stop. Maybe if it starts with mothers, the rest of world will follow.” That’s what Bush is afraid of.
Of course, it’s not just the White House spin-meisters trying to neutralize the Sheehan effect. There are the rabid right wing bloggers and other assorted Neanderthals and goof balls, who don’t even know the difference between Sheehan’s group “Gold Star Families for Peace” and the older non-profit organization “American Gold Star Mothers.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer writes about the case of Judith Young who runs AGSM. She lost her son Jeff in the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut. She’s been getting death threats from these bozo Bush supporters! She says, “’I had someone call me at our Washington headquarters, call me a bitch, and hang up. We are slimeballs, lowlifes,’ she said. Another caller threatened to kick me in the butt, and someone else was going to slap me in the face. I said, “I’ll take that slap for all the Gold Star mothers.’”
Real nice! Again, I can’t imagine why all these Bush supporters who spend all their time blogging and making crank calls don’t sign up. We’re running out of soldiers. W. needs you! Go, go, go!
Rick Santorum is a mother too.
Here’s how bad things are getting for the Republicans. Chuck Hagal has invoked the “V” word to describe Iraq and now Rick Santorum has his staff looking for evidence that he’s ever actually questioned the war. This in response to his democratic challenger, Robert P. Casey’s, charges that he hasn’t asked the “tough questions” about Iraq. Santorum’s spokesman, Robert Traynham, says he’s checked Nexis and the office’s press clippings but has come up empty.
Santorum explains, “I do a lot of interviews on TV, on radio, with print reporters who don’t happen to write everything I say. The fact that it hasn’t turned up in print doesn’t mean I haven’t said it.” Ok, that makes a lot of sense. He has yet to say what it was he said about the war. Man, if the democrats could ever get their act together, this could be a really interesting mid term election. [PI]