October 14, 2005


In Sunni Area, a Pro-Constitution Buzz: Many voters in Iraq's pivotal Nineveh province now say they favor the referendum. But tension remains in the volatile region. (Louise Roug, October 14, 2005, LA Times)

In the upcoming constitutional referendum, Nineveh province has been considered the Ohio of Iraq, the swing state where the success of the founding document hangs in the balance.

But as some Sunni Arab leaders in Baghdad announced a last-minute endorsement of the constitution this week, local politicians from the Iraqi Islamic Party scrapped their "no" posters and began organizing "yes" rallies on the streets of the provincial capital.

Although they have yet to hold a copy of the draft constitution in their hands, many voters in Nineveh say they have been swayed by the political turnaround, making it seem increasingly unlikely that the charter will be rejected, even in this predominantly Sunni Arab province.

On All Things Considered this afternoon, Robert Siegel talked to George Packer, who's tried very hard to be part of a Decent Left, but just dislikes George Bush too much to stick to it. So they're discussing how Mr. Packer was brought around to supporting the removal of Saddam Hussein by his friend Kanan Makiya, but how they were both betrayed by either the cynicism or incompetence of the Administration and now the country looks like it will divide along sectarian lines rather than be the kind of society they hoped for. That certainly remains a possibility, though no one has yet explained why the Shi'ites will allow the Sunni to have the central portion of Iraq where they may be a minority of even that rump state.

Anyway, during the conversation they (I'm not sure which said it) referred to how Mr. Makiya would be as well known and regarded as Vaclav Havel if he were Czech and Iraq had worked out as smoothly as the transition to democracy in Czechoslovakia did... When they get you laughing that hard it's almost possible to believe that the folks at NPR are truly trying to get you to drive into a bridge abuttment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 14, 2005 10:52 PM

This morning on the BBC a journalist was kvetching that one should not assign any value to this referendum since most Iraqis don't know the contents of their proposed constitution. If only they applied the same standard to the European constitution.

Posted by: Daran at October 15, 2005 10:32 AM

Even if the Iraqis are largely ignorant about the details, they obviously have a grasp of the broad strokes, or the announced negotiated changes this week wouldn't have been seen as working to get the constitution passed.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 15, 2005 3:06 PM