Iraq Slips Away
Next Saturday is the critical day when the voters in Iraq will vote in a referendum on the proposed new constitution. It is - by all reasonable standards - a major event.
On the positive side is of course the fact that the referendum takes place at all. That's a sign of progress and hope.
But that's really the end of the good story. The constitution clearly divides more than it unites, and that truly presents a great danger for the future.
A rather ugly attempt to manipulate the referendum process was just defeated by the UN experts on the ground. The majority tried to twist the rules so as to very considerably reduce the possibility of the minority to oppose the constitution.
It was hardly a sign of democratic maturity. And it demonstrated the importance of the role - however limited - that the United Nations play in the country.