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Monday, March 22, 2004

The U.N., they get letters:

'Iraq's most influential Shiite Muslim cleric said that the United Nations must not endorse Iraq's interim constitution, signed earlier this month, because it could lead to the country's break-up, according to a statement released Monday.'

'The letter was sent March 17 by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani's office to top U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. It said al-Sistani will not meet a U.N. team expected soon in Iraq "unless the United Nations takes a clear stance that the constitution does not bind the National Assembly and is not mentioned in any new Security Council resolution concerning Iraq."'

And why might Mr. al-Sistani want such an assurance?

'"This constitution that gives the presidency in Iraq to a three-member council, a Kurd, a Sunni Arab and a Shiite Arab, enshrines sectarianism and ethnicity in the future political system in the country," the March 17 letter said.'

'It said the presidential system of the constitution "will lead to a dead end and puts the country in an unstable situation and could lead to partition and division."'

Looks to me like Mr. al-Sistani just issued a veiled threat -- either there's a one-man presidency (unsaid: that means me) or there will be an "unstable situation". Another country I know tried this once (Angola) after the occupiers left (the Portuguese). The result? The original three-party power-sharing agreement, which was to stay in force until the first election, stoked the politicial ambitions of the three parties and "bam!" Civil war, which only really ended after 28 years in 2002. Robert Fisk has commented in his dispatches for the Independent that Iraq has no history of civil war. To connect the dots, we're afraid that various provisions within the Constitution and the political ambitions of the various parties involved may lead to exactly that.

Which leads us to another question based on the historical analogy of Angola. Will Iraq become the first proxy war in the "War on Terrorism"?

Andrew 9:56 AM : |


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