Latest ArticlesArchivesForumsRSS FeedGuestbookContact UsSearch

Iran Press Service (logo)

You are here: Home > Articles 2004 > March


By Safa Haeri
Posted Friday, March 5, 2004

e-mail E-mail this page   print Printer-friendly page


"He's somewhere in Iraq", the U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, General John Abizaid, said in a television interview. "We're looking for him hard and we've found quite a few of his operatives... and we've uncovered an awful lot of the work that he's doing".


BAGHDAD, 5 Mar. (IPS) Opposition by the five Shi'ite members of the American-installed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) led to a sine die postponement of the signing of a provisory Constitution that was approved last week.

The interim Fundamental Law, or constitution, was to be signed on Wednesday, but was delayed until today after the bloody terrorist operations of Tuesday in Baghdad and Karbala against the Shi’ite community celebrating the commemoration of the martyr of imam Hoseyn, the Sh’ite’s most revered saints, leaving between 170 to 270 dead and many more wounded.

American field commanders immediately blamed the suicide and rocket firing operations on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Joranian national suspected of links with al Qa’eda terror network.

"He's somewhere in Iraq", the U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, General John Abizaid, said in a television interview. "We're looking for him hard and we've found quite a few of his operatives... and we've uncovered an awful lot of the work that he's doing".

So far, at least 20 people, four of them reported to be Iranian or Afghan nationals, have been detained in connection with the Tuesday attacks.

Correspondents quoted un-named sources saying that the Shi’ite representatives at the 25-members IGC refused to sign the document on instructions from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Shi'ite most senior religious authority of the community that is in majority in Iraq, pushing for greater influence in a free and independent Iraq.

"The Governing Council announced last Monday it had agreed on an interim constitution after days of heated talks, and musicians and a choir of children had assembled for the signing ceremony on Friday at 4 p.m. (1 p.m. British time)", the British news agency Reuters reported.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA for its part explained that the Shi’ite member of the IGC had objected to some articles and points of the interim constitutions, particularly the federal nature and the "geographic federalism" provided to the Kurdish community.

IRNA namd Hojjatoleslam Abdol Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq, Ibrahim Ja’afari of the al-Dawa Party, Mowaffaq al-Roba’i, Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress Mohammad Bahr al-Oloum, the present president of the IGC as the five members who opposed the Fundamental Law.

Since the last Iraqi War of 1990, the Iraqi Kurds had lived under a semi-independent regime thanks to the cover provided to them by American and British forces that had placed the Iraqi Kurdish and Shi’a dominated regions of Iraq out of the reach of the now toppled dictator Saddam Hoseyn.

One major point of contention by the Shi’ites is a clause that stipulates that even if a majority of Iraqis approves the constitution, it can be vetoed if two-thirds of voters in three provinces reject it.

The Kurds, who run three provinces of northern Iraq and want the power to veto any attempt to rein in their considerable autonomy inserted the clause, sources said, adding that according to the interim constitution, two vice-presidents empowered with veto power would assist the future president of Iraq.

"At the last minute, the very last minute, there was a switch by the Shi'ites and they objected strongly to a clause which says that if three provinces don't agree on the constitution then it goes back (to parliament)", Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the council, told Reuters.

"They consider that a provocation and the imposition of the will of the minority on the majority", he added, as some other coalition officials played down the delay, saying it was not about priority issues -- the role of Islam in the state and the role of women -- and differences were being settled.

But it was not known why the Shi’ite delegates waited until today, and three days after the massacre of the Shi’ites by so far unknown terrorists, to announce their point of difference with the provisory constitution.

Mr. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil Administrator for in Iraq was present during the talks, a council source said, adding that Bremer was negotiating individually with the Shi’a delegates and thinks it's an incredibly healthy process and he wants it to play out".

Governing Council sources said another point of disagreement was the structure of Iraq's presidential council. They said Shi'ites wanted a five-member rather than a three-member presidential council, with three Shi'ites, a Sunni and a Kurd.

According to the transitional constitution, elections for a transitional assembly must be held by the end of January 2005. That assembly will draft a permanent constitution and prepare for full elections by the end of 2005.

Other points of disagreement – that sources say are minors --, includes the role Islam should play in the political system of the country, as the Kurds and the Sunni Muslim, who form the minority, are worried to see the Shi’ite eventually controlling the state and proclaiming an Iranian type of Islamic Republic, and women, that some human rights organisations argue that the constitution does not secure them an equal rights to men. ENDS IRAQ CONSTITUTION 5304


Baghdad City


Subscribe now: RSS news feed from Iran Press Service, plus free headlines for your site

| Latest Articles | Archives | Forums | Guestbook | Contact Us | Search |

Copyright 2004 IRAN PRESS SERVICE. All rights reserved.

powered by Big Mediumi