Iraqi Constitution Passage Likely by James Joyner

Nancy A. Youssef of Knight Ridder explains why it is quite likely that, despite substantial Sunni misgiving, the Iraqi constitution will pass in the October 15 referendum.

Opposition to Iraqi constitution weakening (KR, Sep. 28)

The two strongest opponents of Iraq’s proposed new constitution said this week that they wouldn’t campaign against it aggressively, making it likely that voters will approve the constitution in an Oct. 15 referendum.

Passage would be a victory for the Bush administration’s Iraq policy, but it’s unclear whether the document will produce a stable Iraqi government with broad public support or further alienate the country’s Sunni Muslim Arab minority.

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Rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s representatives said that while he’s not thrilled about the constitution, he likely wouldn’t encourage his followers to oppose it. Hazem al-Araji, a senior al-Sadr aide, said that al-Sadr has formed a committee to review the document and that once he hears from them he’ll make a final decision. “But for now, his opinion is neutral,” al-Araji said.

The largest Sunni political group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, said that although it has encouraged its supporters to vote down the document, its efforts are focused on the December election for a new National Assembly. “There are powers that will make sure this bad constitution passes,” said Ala’a al-Maki, a party spokesman. “We are focusing more on ensuring the Sunnis participate in the next election.”

Story via Kevin Drum, who writes,

Neither al-Sadr nor the Sunnis are actively enthusiastic about the constitution, but this still strikes me as good news. However, whether it has any effect on the insurgency remains to be seen. So far, there’s no sign of that.

Quite right on both counts, methinks. The election of a permanent government is a significant step forward but, unless it is followed by effective governance and competent provision of security, not enough. Still, I’ll take any forward progress.

This content was used with the permission of Outside the Beltway.

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