Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Islamic Democracy

I know many are doubting that the synthesis can be created, but I say it's possible. That doesn't mean it will happen, but things are looking good today:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi lawmakers approved a set of last-minute amendments to the constitution without a vote on Wednesday, sealing a compromise designed to win Sunni support and boost chances for the charter’s approval in a referendum just three days away.

The deal came as insurgents pressed their campaign to wreck the vote. A suicide bomber killed 30 Iraqis at an army recruitment center in a northern town that was struck by another bomber just a day earlier.

At least one major Sunni Arab party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, said it will now support the draft at the polls. But some other Sunni parties rejected the amendments and said they would still campaign for a “no” vote.

Iraq’s most powerful Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also weighed in, ordering Shiites to vote “yes” in the referendum, one of his aides, Faisal Thbub, said. It was the most direct show of support for the charter by al-Sistani, whose call brought out huge numbers of voters to back Shiite parties in January elections.

The most significant change is the introduction of a mechanism allowing Sunni Arabs to try to make more substantive changes in the constitution later, after a new parliament is elected in December.

The amendments made some key concessions to Sunnis, starting with the first article underlining that Iraq will be a single nation with its unity guaranteed — a nod to fears among the disaffected minority that the draft as it stands will fragment the country.

Other changes open the door to Sunni Arabs to try to make more dramatic substantive changes in the constitution later, after a new parliament is elected in December.

Sunnis likely to face oppositionSunnis want to weaken the considerable autonomous powers the Shiite and Kurdish mini-states would have under the constitution. But there’s no guarantee they will succeed: They will still likely face strong opposition from majority Shiites and Kurds in the new parliament.

Iraqi leaders, including the Kurdish president, Sunni Arab vice president and Shiite prime minister, lined up on a stage before the National Assembly, lauding the deal as a show of unity between the country’s often divided factions and communities.

“We have the right to be proud in saying that today was a day of national consensus,” President Jalal Talabani said. “So congratulations to our people for their constitution.”

Earlier in the day, Iraq’s president, prime minister and other leaders praised the compromise, reached after marathon talks between Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish negotiators.

“The new amendments on the draft open wide horizons and give everyone another chance to have a proportional role to participate in the political process to build the new Iraqi government,” Parliament Speaker Hajim al-Hassani told the lawmakers.

“The political process in Iraq in spite of all its many complications is going forward.”