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In another sign that the Iraqis have started to get the hang of democracy, the new government announced that it had successfully completed negotiations with leading Sunni groups to involve them in the writing of the new Constitution:
Iraqi political leaders reached a compromise Thursday to include more Sunni Muslim Arabs on the committee responsible for writing the country's new constitution, ending weeks of stalemate and raising hopes that the document can be crafted before the panel's deadline expires in two months.
"The problem is solved and ended. The Sunnis will participate in the process of writing the constitution," said Tariq Hashimi, the secretary general of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a leading Sunni organization. ...
Under the compromise, the new panel will include members of the existing committee, 15 additional Sunni Arabs with full voting rights and 10 more Sunnis in an advisory, non-voting role. A member of Iraq's Sabean sect, an ancient religious group, will also be added and allowed to vote.
Everyone had to give up a little bit to make this compromise work. The Kurds, for example, had to allow the Sunnis to have more representation on the council, although the two groups are roughly equal in the general Iraqi population -- and the Kurds took part in the election. Those Shi'ites that tend to distrust secularism had to accept the fact that the inclusion of Sunnis will ensure that the new Iraqi system will not resemble the Iranian model. The Sunnis themselves won most of what they said they wanted, but by doing so they have accepted responsibility for whatever constitution comes out of the parliament. With their demands met, they have accountability for the result.
Despite the doom and gloom of reporting from Iraq -- and this Post dispatch provides no exception, as it interrupts the narrative to talk about two unrelated bombings -- this shows that democracy continues apace in Baghdad. Just as anywhere else, democracy creates slow, frustrating progress on political issues as many people get a chance to argue for their positions. Negotiations between factions necessarily take time as the opposite sides start discarding the desirable to hold onto the essential, whether liberal vs conservative, property owners vs renters, or Sunni vs Shi'a. It's amusing in a dark and cynical way that so many people in the world's oldest democracy see the slow give-and-take process as an indication of failure and gloom rather than recognize it for its similarities to our own politics.
The Post also reports on the capture of Mohammed Khalad, aka Abu Talha, another of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's lieutenants. Typically, it holds that off to the final two paragraphs of the report, making sure that the bombings get more coverage. In fact, the manner of Khalaf's capture provides the essence of the futility of Zarqawi's jihad:
Alston announced that multinational forces in the northern city of Mosul had apprehended a key member of al Qaeda in Iraq, the insurgent group led by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian. Mohammed Khalaf, known as Abu Talha, was captured Tuesday without a fight, though he had vowed not to be taken alive and was known to wear an explosive vest at all times, Alston said.
The arrest was made possible by tips from local residents, Alston said. Since Zarqawi declared in May that it was permissible to kill civilians in attacks against security forces, Alston said, "we are getting reporting that cells, as part of his network, are concerned about the consequence of this behavior and the consequence of what they've done to the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people increasingly are exposing the insurgents."
The Iraqi people understand perfectly what's at stake. Even if some of them had sympathy and admiration for the so-called insurgency at first, they've long since realized that Zarqawi doesn't care about Iraqis at all. They're putting their money, and in some cases their lives, on democracy. Even Abu Talha couldn't bring himself to commit suicide rather than be captured. What kind of message do you think that sends to the rest of the jihadists in Iraq?Sphere It View blog reactions
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