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October 14, 2005
More Sunnis Accept Constitution And Pay An Immediate Price

The new agreement on the Iraqi constitution gained momentum in Sunni circles late yesterday on the eve of the plebescite for approving the bedrock law of the permanent government. The Sunni split had immediate consequences, as terrorists attacked the political offices of the latest Sunni party to endorse the new constitution for tomorrow's polling:

A day after Iraq's parliament approved the final version of the country's draft constitution, and two days before Iraqis were to vote on it in a nationwide referendum, members of the Sunni Arab minority were as divided as their leaders Thursday over what to do: vote yes, vote no, or not vote at all.

Since changes were still being made to the document as late as Tuesday night and no revised copies had been distributed, "I have no idea what the main benefits of the new constitution are," said Waad Shakir Mahmoud, 45, owner of a supermarket in Adhamiyah, Baghdad's largest Sunni Muslim neighborhood. "How am I going to vote on something I don't have any idea about?"

But others in his neighborhood -- where a banner on the local mosque declared "No to the constitution, no to the occupation, and no to deceiving the people" -- said they would vote in favor of the constitution. They said it offered the best hope for curbing rampant violence, ending foreign occupation and preserving Iraq's unity.

"This country is wounded, and we have to heal the wounds, despite what is being said about the constitution," said Aqil Naji, 30, the owner of a nut shop.

The new changes get to the minimum needed to bring the Sunnis into the political process -- leave them an opening for later modification, no matter how small that chance might be. The amendment process existed in the prior draft, but the new agreement eases some of the hurdles that face the minority Sunnis in getting such proposals to a vote. Any significant proposals would likely face defeat anyway, as the reality of their third-place status in terms of demographics would indicate in any democratic process. The act of meeting the Sunnis halfway on this issue, and so publicly, still shows that they will not lack power to affect public policy.

This hope will drive them to support democracy, or at least that seems to be the conclusion of the Anglo-American led coalition. That analysis apparently matches that of the Zarqawi-led terrorist lunatics, as they quickly added the Sunnis to their target list -- perhaps intending to convince them to embrace their fanaticism but more likely convincing them that the insurgency has to go:

Insurgents determined to derail this weekend's referendum bombed an office of Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political party on Friday, after the group dropped its opposition to the draft constitution.

No one was wounded by the roadside bomb outside the Iraqi Islamic Party office in Fadhal, a district of central Baghdad. The attack was rare in that it targeted Sunnis, the ethnic group behind the insurgency, and appeared aimed at punishing the party for deciding to end its "no" campaign. ...

"This attack by insurgents against the Islamic Party was expected because of its new stand toward the referendum," Iraqi army Maj. Salman Abdul Yahid said in an interview. "Insurgents had threatened to attack the group and its leaders to get revenge."

A senior party official, Alaa Makki, condemned the attack, saying it won't stop the group's efforts to "use the political process to fight terrorism and promote stability in Iraq."

The attacks, which had spared Sunnis for the most part, will likely backfire on Zarqawi. US forces expect a spate of them over the next few days, as ballots get cast in the plebescite and have to get collected and counted by hand, which creates all sorts of vulnerabilities. The same kind of security as in the last election will go into effect starting today, with private vehicles banned over the next few days.

This election has more security resources, however. The Iraqis now have over 200,000 trained forces available to protect the polling stations and communication lines, up 50% from January's elections. That will allow the Iraqis to take even more national control over their own democratic processes, moving the Americans into more of the secondary support task that we envision as the next stage of development in Iraq. Thanks to the numerous operations staged between the Iraqis and the Americans over the past few months to clear out terrorist strongholds, those troops have much more battle experience than they did in January -- and they know what to spot to prevent the attack from doing its maximum damage.

My prediction is that the constitution will only lose in the Baghdad province, and otherwise find overwhelming acceptance nationwide with a voter turnout of over 10 million.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 14, 2005 6:16 AM

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» Iraq Insurgents Attack Sunni Party Office from Don Singleton
Killing your own people because of what they said; that is a good way to get the people to support you. NOT!!! [Read More]

Tracked on October 14, 2005 10:55 AM

» A New Hope For The Iraqi People! from Oblogatory Anecdotes
That is all we can do for the people is plant a seed of freedom for them. It will be up to the people of Iraq themselves to nourish the fledgling sprout and make it grow into a healthy living tree that will bear delicious fruit for many years to come... [Read More]

Tracked on October 16, 2005 2:43 AM

» Iraqis Have Voted - Well Done! from T. Longren
Iraqis voted on their Constitution yesterday. The voting appeared to go fairly well with not much happening to distract people from participating. It’s estimated that 15.5 million Iraqis headed to the polls to cast their simple “yes̶... [Read More]

Tracked on October 16, 2005 3:35 PM

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