Monday, August 29, 2005

Big Iraqi Battle Coming

UK EU Presidency 2005 Foreign Policy Statements

Like everyone else, the European Union has officially welcomed the publication of the draft for the new constitution of the new Iraq today.

But beneath the official statements there is a deep uneasiness over what will happen next. The constitution undoubtedly represents great progress for both Iraq and the region, but it's essence seems to be a deal between the Shiites and the Kurds at the expense of the Sunnis.

This is not really what the United States sought. One gets the impression that even the high-level interventions by President Bush fail to achieve a more balanced outcome.

Now, this draft constitution should be the subject of a referendum in all of Iraq in October.

That will be a critical and in all probability fiercely contested battle.

Accordig to the Transitional Administrative Law, the constitution can be defeated by a two-thirds majority in three of the provinces of the country.

This was a provision written originally to defend the Kurds by giving them the de facto power to defeat any Iraqi constitution they did not like.

But now it's the Sunnis that will be in focus. Sunnis make up a sizeable majority in two provinces, Anbar and Salahuddin, and a slim one in Nineveh, which also has a large Kurdish population.

So we should expect the critical battle to be played out in the province of Nineveh, centered around the city of Mosul.