8.31.2005

The international comments on the Iraqi draft constitution

Britain's Blair Praises Completion of Iraqi Constitution Draft

Prime Minister urges participation in constitutional referendum in October

Following is the text of Blair's statement on the Iraqi constitution:

(begin text) Prime Minister's Office
10 Downing Street 29
August 2005

PM STATEMENT ON THE IRAQ CONSTITUTION

Today's announcement of a new Iraqi constitution is an important and historic achievement.

The ethnic and religious diversity of Iraq made this a particularly complex task. But compromise is the essence of democracy. This text is testimony to the determination of the Iraqi people to build a free, secure and democratic future. It protects the rights of all Iraq's communities and the unity of Iraq.

The small minority who have chosen violence over democracy will no doubt respond with bloodshed and intimidation. But they can be defeated if Iraq's communities work together to build a unified Iraq in which the rights and interests of all are respected. It is vital that each of those communities participate fully in the democratic political process, including the referendum in October and elections in December.

The United Kingdom will continue to support the Iraqi people as they work for a democratic and united future in Iraq.

(end text)


European Union Welcomes Publication of Iraq's Constitution

EU presidency says it will continue to offer full support to the Iraqi people

Following is the text of the EU press release:

(begin text)

UK PRESIDENCY OF THE EU 2005
PRESS RELEASE
SUNDAY, 28 AUGUST 2005

EU PRESIDENCY STATEMENT WELCOMING THE PUBLICATION OF IRAQ'S CONSTITUTION (28/08/05)

The United Kingdom, as Presidency of the EU, today welcomes the publication of Iraq's constitution.

The Presidency congratulates the Iraqi people on reaching this important milestone in the political process.

Drafting Iraq's constitution has been difficult. There have been compromises on all sides. But representatives from across Iraq's diverse community have now produced a constitution which we hope will set the foundations for a democratic Iraq.

The European Union encourages all Iraqis to play a part in the next stage of the political process by voting on the draft constitution in the October referendum. Broad public support for the constitution will help ensure a stable future for Iraq.

The Iraqis have succeeded in drafting this constitution despite the action of terrorists who are trying to destroy the country's desire for a peaceful future.

The EU will continue to offer its full support to the Iraqi people, including in assisting in the run-up to October's referendum and the national elections in December.

(end text)


United Nations Welcomes Completion of Iraq's Constitution Draft

Organization to continue promoting national dialogue, consensus-building

Following is the text of the U.N. statement about the Iraqi constitution:

(begin text)

New York, 28 August 2005
United Nations Statement by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General On the Constitution-making Process in Iraq

The Secretary-General welcomes the completion of the new draft constitution of Iraq, which has been the result of an Iraqi-led and Iraqi-owned process. He also welcomes the earnest efforts made by all Iraqi political entities under the difficult circumstances in which this process took place.

The Secretary-General urges all Iraqi communities and political entities to continue to work together in a spirit of national reconciliation, through a fully inclusive, transparent and participatory political process in the period leading to the national referendum, when the Iraqi people will decide on their new constitution.

The Secretary-General is pleased that the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and its constitutional team have been able to provide the necessary support to the constitution-making process and has instructed his Special Representative, Mr. Ashraf Qazi, to continue efforts to promote national dialogue and consensus-building among all Iraqi communities and political entities, with a view to helping the Iraqi people build the foundations of a new peaceful, democratic and united Iraq.

(end text)

New Iraqi Constitution Advances Democracy, U.S. Ambassador Says

Draft reflects reconciliation of Islamic traditions, democracy principles

By Howard Cincotta
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington -- The new draft Iraqi constitution protects the principles of human rights and democracy while also recognizing the nation's Islamic traditions and heritage, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said in televised interviews August 28 on NBC's Meet the Press and CNN's Late Edition.

Asked about the views of the Sunni population, Khalilzad predicted on CNN's Late Edition that some Sunni leaders will support it while others will have difficulties with certain aspects of the draft.

"I don't think we will know the Sunni reaction authoritatively for a few more days and weeks perhaps," Khalilzad said. "If we get Sunni buy-in to the draft, then this would become a national compact, and the draft will be very helpful in moving Iraq forward."

Constitutions such as those of the United States change and adapt over time, Khalilzad pointed out on NBC's Meet the Press, and the Iraqi constitution is no different.

The Sunnis did not get all that they wanted, but neither did other communities in Iraq, Khalilzad said on CNN. "A constitution is not a party platform; it's a common road map, a compact where points of agreement are emphasized," he added.

On Meet the Press, Khalilzad defended the draft constitution as representing "a new consensus between the universal principles of democracy and human rights, and Iraqi traditions in Islam."

For example, the draft constitution recognizes equality between men and women, prohibits domestic violence and grants a minimum of 25 percent representation for women in the National Assembly, he said.

Khalilzad acknowledged that provisions relating to family and personal law are controversial, but said that the new constitution recognizes freedom of choice, meaning that individuals can choose whether to be governed by secular or religious law -- as is the case in other nations.

Contrary to some claims, he said on Meet the Press, the current draft does not grant special authority to religious judges, but calls for expertise in both secular and Islamic law to be represented in the Supreme Court. The specifics will have to be worked out in legislation by the next parliament, according to Khalilzad.

Khalilzad noted on CNN that courts will have no right of prior review of legislation. If laws are contested as unconstitutional, they will move through the legal process to the Supreme Court in the normal manner. "That was a very vital change that took place in the last three days," he said.

"The insurgents have declared war on the constitution. They have declared war on the election," Khalilzad said on Meet the Press, adding that he was particularly sensitive to the pressures upon the Sunni community, who are facing intimidation and violence.

"But it is time for them, for the interests of their people, to join the political process," he said. "Not everyone loves every article of this document. Not everyone is totally satisfied. But there is enough in this constitution that meets the basic needs of all communities and for Iraq to move forward."

On CNN, Khalilzad said, "I urge the Sunni Arabs to take a look at the final draft, to consider the protections that this draft provides for Iraqi citizens. The checks and balances that are inherent in the constitution, that protect minorities against a government that may be dominated by one faction because of the numbers that they have."


U.S. Ambassador Congratulates Iraqi Leaders on Draft Constitution

Khalilzad says submission sets stage for "historic debate" among Iraqis

Following is the text of Khalilzad's statement:

(begin text)

[U.S. Embassy Baghdad]
August 28, 2005
STATEMENT

U.S. AMBASSADOR ZALMAY KHALILZAD

The completed draft of the constitution provides a vision for the future, one based on democratic values and Iraqi traditions. It is a good document. I congratulate the Iraqi leaders who worked so hard and so long to arrive at this moment.

The submission of this complete draft sets the stage for a historic debate among Iraqis about how to institutionalize their new democracy.

-- The draft constitution protects human equality and human rights.

-- It establishes checks, balances, and the separation of powers.

-- The draft constitution protects the unity of Iraq through federalism. The Kurdish region has not been part of Iraq for many years. Kurdish leaders are bringing their region back into Iraq of their own free will. It is through the principle of federalism that this reintegration of Iraq is possible.

-- The draft constitution establishes the full equality of men and women before the law and equality of opportunity for all Iraqis.

-- Women have the right to participate fully in public affairs, and electoral laws will be designed to ensure that 25 percent of members of parliament are women.

-- The draft constitution is one of the most progressive governing documents in the Muslim world in terms of its protections of the right of religious freedom and conscience.

-- It is based on an enlightened synthesis of universal human rights and democratic values and Iraqi traditions, including Islam.

Iraqis from all communities should review the draft. As the draft has evolved through negotiations, there has been much misinformation and disinformation about its content. Iraqis should read it, debate it, and decide for themselves how to vote on October 15.

This draft constitution - like all constitutions, including the U.S. Constitution - is a living document. It is designed to address Iraq's present political circumstances and based on the present configuration of political forces, but it can and must evolve to address changing circumstances and new challenges in the future.

If the draft constitution is approved in the referendum, it will become a common vision for Iraq and a national compact for Iraqis.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

She Does Not Speak for Me

By Ronald R. Griffin
The Wall Street Journal (Opinion Journal)
August 18, 2005

I lost a son in Iraq and Cindy Sheehan does not speak for me.

I grieve with Mrs. Sheehan, for all too well I know the full measure of the agony she is forever going to endure. I honor her son for his service and sacrifice. However, I abhor all that she represents and those who would cast her as the symbol for parents of our fallen soldiers.

The fallen heroes, until now, have enjoyed virtually no individuality. They have been treated as a monolith, a mere number. Now Mrs. Sheehan, with adept public relations tactics, has succeeded in elevating herself above the rest of us. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida declared that Mrs. Sheehan is now the symbol for all parents who have lost children in Iraq. Sorry, senator. Not for me.

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times portrays Mrs. Sheehan as a distraught mom standing heroically outside the guarded gates of the most powerful and inhumane man on earth, President Bush. Ms. Dowd is so moved by Mrs. Sheehan's plight that she bestowed upon her and all grieving parents the title of "absolute moral authority." That characterization epitomizes the arrogance and condescension of anyone who would presume to understand and speak for all of us. How can we all possess "absolute moral authority" when we hold so many different perspectives?

I don't want that title. I haven't earned that title.

Although we all walk the same sad road of sorrow and agony, we walk it as individuals with all the refreshing uniqueness of our own thoughts shaped in large measure by the life and death of our own fallen hero. Over the past few days I have reached out to other parents and loved ones of fallen heroes in an attempt to find out their reactions to all the attention Mrs. Sheehan has attracted. What emerges from those conversations is an empathy for Mrs. Sheehan's suffering but a fundamental disagreement with her politics.

Ann and Dale Hampton lost their only child, Capt. Kimberly Hampton, on Jan. 2, 2004, while she was flying her Kiowa helicopter. She was a member of the 82nd Airborne and the company commander. She had already served in Afghanistan before being deployed to Iraq. Ann Hampton wrote, "My grief sometimes seems unbearable, but I cannot add the additional baggage of anger. Mrs. Sheehan has every right to protest . . . but I cannot do that. I would be protesting the very thing that Kimberly believed in and died for."

Marine Capt. Benjamin Sammis was Stacey Sammis's husband. Ben died on April 4, 2003, while flying his Super Cobra helicopter. Listen to Stacey and she will tell you that she is just beginning to understand the enormousness of the character of soldiers who knowingly put their lives at risk to defend our country. She will tell you that one of her deepest regrets is that the world did not have the honor of experiencing for a much longer time this outstanding Marine she so deeply loved.

Speak to Joan Curtin, whose son, Cpl. Michael Curtin, was an infantryman with the 2-7th 3rd ID, and her words are passionately ambivalent. She says she has no room for bitterness. She has a life to lead and a family to nurture. She spoke of that part of her that never heals, for that is where Michael resides. She can go on, always knowing there will be that pain.

Karen Long is the mother of Spc. Zachariah Long, who died with my son Kyle on May 30, 2003.

Zack and Kyle were inseparable friends as only soldiers can be, and Karen and I have become inseparable friends since their deaths. Karen's view is that what Mrs. Sheehan is doing she has every right to do, but she is dishonoring all soldiers, including Karen's son, Zack. Karen cannot comprehend why Mrs. Sheehan cannot seem to come to grips with the idea that her own son, Casey, was a soldier like Zack who had a mission to complete. Karen will tell you over and over again that Zack is not here and no one, but no one will dishonor her son.

My wife, Robin, has a different take on Mrs. Sheehan. She told me, "I don't care what she says or does. She is no more important than any other mother."

By all accounts Spc. Casey Sheehan, Mrs. Sheehan's son, was a soldier by choice and by the strength of his character. I did not have the honor of knowing him, but I have read that he attended community college for three years and then chose to join the Army. In August 2003, five months into Operation Iraqi Freedom and after three years of service, Casey Sheehan re-enlisted in the Army with the full knowledge there was a war going on, and with the high probability he would be assigned to a combat area. Mrs. Sheehan frequently speaks of her son in religious terms, even saying that she thought that some day Casey would be a priest. Like so many of the individuals who have given their lives in service to our country, Casey was a very special young man. How do you decry that which someone has chosen to do with his life? How does a mother dishonor the sacrifice of her own son?

Mrs. Sheehan has become the poster child for all the negativity surrounding the war in Iraq. In a way it heartens me to have all this attention paid to her, because that means others in her position now have the chance to be heard. Give equal time to other loved ones of fallen heroes. Feel the intensity of their love, their pride and the sorrow.

To many loved ones, there are few if any "what ifs." They, like their fallen heroes before them, live in the world as it is and not what it was or could have been. Think of the sacrifices that have brought us to this day. We as a country made a collective decision. We must now live up to our decision and not deviate until the mission is complete.

Thirty-five years ago, a president faced a similar dilemma in Vietnam. He gave in and we got "peace with honor." To this day, I am still searching for that honor. Today, those who defend our freedom every day do so as volunteers with a clear and certain purpose. Today, they have in their commander in chief someone who will not allow us to sink into self-pity. I will not allow him to. The amazing part about talking to the people left behind is that I did not want them to stop. After speaking to so many I have come away with the certainty of their conviction that in a large measure it's because of the deeds and sacrifices of their fallen heroes that this is a better and safer world we now live in.

Those who lost their lives believed in the mission. To honor their memory, and because it's right, we must believe in the mission, too.

We refuse to allow Cindy Sheehan to speak for all of us. Instead, we ask you to learn the individual stories. They are glorious. Honor their memories.

Honor their service. Never dishonor them by giving in. They never did.

Mr. Griffin is the father of Spc. Kyle Andrew Griffin, a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star, who was killed in a truck accident on a road between Mosul and Tikrit on May 30, 2003.

Analysis: Mideast Course At the Mercy of Local Factions

By Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, August 29, 2005

For all the attention and resources the Bush administration has poured into the Middle East, the outcome of its two most critical initiatives is increasingly vulnerable to the sectarian passions, tumultuous history and political priorities of the local players, say U.S. officials and regional experts.

Two developments over the past week marked major movement for the U.S. agenda: Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, a critical step in the creation of a Palestinian state and regional peace. And Iraq submitted a constitution to its national assembly, offering the legal foundation for a new Iraqi state.

President Bush yesterday and in his radio address Saturday hailed the two events as turning points in promoting democracy and peace in the region. On Iraq, Bush said its people have "demonstrated to the world that they are up to the historic challenges before them. The document they have produced contains far-reaching protections for fundamental human freedoms, including religion, assembly, conscience and expression."

But the actual implementation of Iraq's constitution and the viability of Gaza will now depend largely on forces beyond Washington's control -- and both face mounting challenges.

"The theme in this region is the reality of a foreign military power that comes in with great determination and overwhelming force, defeats people, subjugates a nation and then gets completely lost in the local maelstrom of interests and the irresistible force of indigenous identity -- religious, ethnic, sectarian, national. People act in a maniacal way when they assert these identities, which includes nurturing and protecting them," said Rami Khouri, a U.S.-educated Arab analyst and editor of Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper.

"Every single foreign power that has been in this region since Alexander the Great -- through the Romans, Greeks, Ottomans, British, French and now Americans -- has learned the same lesson," Khouri said.

The growing U.S. challenge in trying to influence events was reflected when Bush called a top Shiite politician Wednesday, a day before Iraq's constitution was due, to warn against alienating the Sunni minority and potentially sabotaging the entire process. But the Shiite parties did not quickly or fully appease Sunni concerns -- and Iraq missed its deadline for a third time on Thursday.

"The U.S. is shackled by the very forces that it liberated," said Robert Malley, the International Crisis Group's Middle East program director and a former Clinton administration National Security Council staff member.

"All those forces silenced during Saddam Hussein's rule are using a period of transition, when Iraq is remaking itself, to express themselves or gain advantage. Even though the United States is the dominant force, it is increasingly finding itself a bystander as Iraqis vie for power and to define what a future Iraq is going to be," Malley said.

The administration acknowledged yesterday that political transformations take time and often do not unfold evenly -- and that the outcome is far from guaranteed.

"If the Sunnis do vote for it and approve the constitution, if the constitution is not stopped, then it will be a national contract and it will help with the counter-insurgency strategy," Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "If they don't, then it will be a problem."

Bush also acknowledged the split among Iraqis, which he described as a right of free individuals living in a free society. "We recognize that there is a split amongst the Sunnis, for example, in Iraq. And I suspect that when you get down to it, you'll find a Shiite in disagreement with a Shiite who supports the constitution, and perhaps some Kurds are concerned about the constitution," Bush said. "We're watching a political process unfold."

But rivalries over shaping that future in a free environment have also sparked tensions, even within sectarian factions. Despite the presence of more than 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, clashes erupted last week between two Shiite militias: Troops loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr fought the Badr Organization of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Militia wings of Iraq's political parties are "looking out for their own future" and will continue to "act in ways that strengthen them, politically and militarily," said Edward Walker, president of the Middle East Institute and former ambassador to Egypt and Israel. "They see themselves winning [over other groups] and now they're fighting to see who gets the biggest piece of the action. That puts the U.S. in a different position."

On Gaza, U.S. goals are likely to be heavily influenced over the next year by internal Israeli and Palestinian politics. Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon face significant political foes -- and critical elections.

The Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, which already has a substantial base of support in Gaza, is increasingly challenging Abbas's authority. The competition between secular and religious parties will play out when Hamas runs for the first time in legislative elections in January.

Despite Israel's insistence, Abbas has refused to disarm Hamas's militia wing -- and is unlikely to take that unpopular move before the January voting. That, in turn, will hurt U.S. efforts to solidify security arrangements and then move forward on the U.S.-backed peace plan known as the roadmap.

Sharon is facing a revolt in his Likud Party over his controversial decision to withdraw from Gaza, with one poll showing him 17 percentage points behind former finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu among party supporters. Netanyahu quit the Sharon cabinet earlier this month in opposition to the Gaza decision. Elections are expected by November 2006.

As the Gaza withdrawal neared, Sharon moved to placate his right-wing base by pushing forward with construction of a security fence, slicing through Palestinian farmland, to encircle and protect the largest settlement on the West Bank. The move infuriated Palestinians and could undercut support for Abbas.

The administration deserved credit for working hard to make the Gaza withdrawal a success, said Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland and the Brookings Institution, but "now it's clear everyone had not fully thought about the morning after." There is now a "huge gap in expectations," with the Israelis expecting a breather after last week's wrenching settler evictions from Gaza and the Palestinians expecting accelerated peace talks.

"Both sides are wrapped up in their own political dynamics," Telhami said. The Bush administration faces the challenge of "helping Sharon without hurting Abbas and helping Abbas without hurting Sharon."

Local economic and security priorities may also complicate the U.S. agenda. In creating a viable Gaza for 1.3 million Palestinians, the Palestinian focus is on building an economy that includes free flow of goods and people across the borders with Israel and Egypt. But Israel's primary focus is on security guarantees to ensure that extremists are unable to cross into Israel.

Administration officials acknowledge the pace of decisions is up to the two parties.

"We may have our views about any particular issue," Assistant Secretary of State C. David Welch said last week at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, "but at the end of the day, it's a matter for Israelis and Palestinians to decide."

State Dept. Says It Warned About bin Laden in 1996

By Eric Lichtblau
The New York Times
August 17, 2005

State Department analysts warned the Clinton administration in July 1996 that Osama bin Laden's move to Afghanistan would give him an even more dangerous haven as he sought to expand radical Islam "well beyond the Middle East," but the government chose not to deter the move, newly declassified documents show.

In what would prove a prescient warning, the State Department intelligence analysts said in a top-secret assessment on Mr. bin Laden that summer that "his prolonged stay in Afghanistan - where hundreds of 'Arab mujahedeen' receive terrorist training and key extremist leaders often congregate - could prove more dangerous to U.S. interests in the long run than his three-year liaison with Khartoum," in Sudan.

The declassified documents, obtained by the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act request and provided to The New York Times, shed light on a murky and controversial chapter in Mr. bin Laden's history: his relocation from Sudan to Afghanistan as the Clinton administration was striving to understand the threat he posed and explore ways of confronting him.

Before 1996, Mr. bin Laden was regarded more as a financier of terrorism than a mastermind. But the State Department assessment, which came a year before he publicly urged Muslims to attack the United States, indicated that officials suspected he was taking a more active role, including in the bombings in June 1996 that killed 19 members American soldiers at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Two years after the State Department's warning, with Mr. bin Laden firmly entrenched in Afghanistan and overseeing terrorist training and financing operations, Al Qaeda struck two American embassies in East Africa, leading to failed military attempts by the Clinton administration to capture or kill him in Afghanistan. Three years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in an operation overseen from the base in Afghanistan.

Critics of the Clinton administration have accused it of ignoring the threat posed by Mr. bin Laden in the mid-1990's while he was still in Sudan, and they point to claims by some Sudanese officials that they offered to turn him over to the Americans before ultimately expelling him in 1996 under international pressure. But Clinton administration diplomats have adamantly denied that they received such an offer, and the Sept. 11 commission concluded in one of its staff reports that it had "not found any reliable evidence to support the Sudanese claim."

The newly declassified documents do not directly address the question of whether Sudan ever offered to turn over Mr. bin Laden. But the documents go well beyond previous news and historical accounts in detailing the Clinton administration's active monitoring of Mr. bin Laden's movements and the realization that his move to Afghanistan could make him an even greater national security threat.

Several former senior officials in the Clinton administration did not return phone calls this week seeking comment on the newly declassified documents.

Adam Ereli, a spokesman for the State Department, said the documents should be viewed in the context of what was happening globally in 1996, rather than in the hindsight of events after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In 1996, Mr. Ereli said, "the question was getting him out of Sudan."

"The priority was to deny him safe haven, period, and to disrupt his activities any way you could," he continued. "There was a lot we didn't know, and the priority was to keep him on the run, keep him on guard, and try to maximize the opportunities to nail him."

Before the East Africa bombings in 1998, however, Mr. bin Laden "wasn't recognized then as the threat he is now," Mr. Ereli said. "Yes, he was a bad guy, he was a threat, but he was one of many, and by no means of the prominence that he later came to be."

The State Department assessment, written July 18, 1996, after Mr. bin Laden had been expelled from Sudan and was thought to be relocating to Afghanistan, said Afghanistan would make an "ideal haven" for Mr. bin Laden to run his financial networks and attract support from radicalized Muslims. Moreover, his wealth, his personal plane and many passports "allow him considerable freedom to travel with little fear of being intercepted or tracked," and his public statements suggested an "emboldened" man capable of "increased terrorism," the assessment said.

While a strategy of keeping Mr. bin Laden on the run could "inconvenience" him, the assessment said, "even a bin Laden on the move can retain the capability to support individuals and groups who have the motive and wherewithal to attack U.S. interests almost world-wide."

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the declassified material released to his group "says to me that the Clinton administration knew the broad outlines in 1996 of bin Laden's capabilities and his intent, and unfortunately, almost nothing was done about it."

Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, was highly critical of President Clinton during his two terms in office. The group has also been critical of some Bush administration actions after the Sept. 11 attacks, releasing documents in March that detailed government efforts to facilitate flights out of the United States for dozens of well-connected Saudis just days after the attacks.

Michael F. Scheuer, who from 1996 to 1999 led the Central Intelligence Agency unit that tracked Mr. bin Laden, said the State Department documents reflected a keen awareness of the danger posed by Mr. bin Laden's relocation.

"The analytical side of the State Department had it exactly right - that's genius analysis," he said in an interview when told of the declassified documents. But Mr. Scheuer, who wrote a book in 2004 titled "Imperial Hubris," under the pseudonym "Anonymous," that was highly critical of American counterterrorism strategies, said many officials in the C.I.A.'s operational side thought they would have a better chance to kill Mr. bin Laden in Afghanistan than they did in Sudan because the Sudan government protected him.

"The thinking was that he was in Afghanistan, and he was dangerous, but because he was there, we had a better chance to kill him," Mr. Scheuer said. "But at the end of the day, we settled for the worst possibility - he was there and we didn't do anything."

8.29.2005

Bush Recaps "Remarkable Events" in Middle East

President lauds Israeli pullout of Gaza, Iraq's constitutional process

President Bush devoted his weekly radio address on August 27 to what he called "remarkable events in the broader Middle East."

The president praised Israel for taking the "courageous and painful step" of removing Israeli settlements in Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. He called on Palestinians to "show the world that they will fight terrorism and govern in a peaceful way," and vowed to continue to help the Palestinians "to prepare for self government and to defeat the terrorists who attack Israel and oppose the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state." He pledged to "continue working for the day when the map of the Middle East shows two democratic states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace and security."

Iraqis are making "tough choices toward a democratic constitution that respects the traditions of their country and guarantees the rights of all their citizens," Bush said, noting they are "addressing these issues through debate and discussion -- not at the barrel of a gun."

The president predicted that the establishment of a democratic constitution in Iraq will be a landmark event in the history of the broader Middle East and will hasten the day when Iraq can govern, sustain and defend itself.

"As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down," Bush said.

"People across the Middle East are choosing a future of freedom and prosperity and hope," according to the president, who promised that "Americans will continue to stand with them because we know that free and democratic nations are peaceful nations. By advancing the cause of liberty in the Middle East, we will bring hope to millions and security to our own citizens. And we will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren."

An audio file of the address can be accessed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050827.a.ram

Following is the transcript of the president's radio address:

(begin transcript)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Crawford, Texas)
Saturday, August 27, 2005

RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. In recent days, we have witnessed remarkable events in the broader Middle East. People are making the tough choices necessary for a future of security and hope that will make the region and the world more peaceful.

During the past two weeks, Prime Minister Sharon and the Israeli people took a courageous and painful step by removing Israeli settlements in Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. I congratulate the Prime Minister for his bold leadership. Now that Israel has withdrawn, the way forward is clear. The Palestinians must show the world that they will fight terrorism and govern in a peaceful way. We will continue to help the Palestinians to prepare for self government and to defeat the terrorists who attack Israel and oppose the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state.

We remain fully committed to defending the security and well-being of our friend and ally Israel. We demand an end to terrorism and violence in every form because we know that progress depends on ending terror. And we will continue working for the day when the map of the Middle East shows two democratic states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace and security. As these hopeful events occur in the Holy Land, the people of Iraq are also making the tough choices and compromises necessary for a free and peaceful future. In January, eight-and-a-half million Iraqis defied the terrorists and went to the polls to vote. Iraq's main ethnic and religious groups made the courageous choice to join the political process. And together, they have worked toward a democratic constitution that respects the traditions of their country and guarantees the rights of all their citizens.

Like our own nation's founders over two centuries ago, the Iraqis are grappling with difficult issues, such as the role of the federal government. What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion -- not at the barrel of a gun. The establishment of a democratic constitution in Iraq, just like the establishment of a constitution in Afghanistan last year, will be a landmark event in the history of the broader Middle East. And it will bring us closer to the day when the nation of Iraq can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.

The terrorists are trying to stop the rise of democracy in Iraq because they know a free Iraq will deal a decisive blow to their strategy to dominate the Middle East. But the Iraqi people are determined to build a free future for their nation, and they are uniting against the terrorists.

We saw that unity earlier this month when followers of the terrorist Zarqawi tried to force Shiite Muslims to leave the Iraqi city of Ramadi. Sunni Muslims in that city came to the defense of their Shiite neighbors. As one Sunni leader put it, "We have had enough of Zarqawi's nonsense.

We don't accept that a non-Iraqi should try to enforce his control over Iraqis."
By choosing to stand with their fellow Iraqis, these Sunnis rejected the terrorists' attempt to divide their nation and incite sectarian violence.

Iraqis are working together to build a free nation that contributes to peace and stability in the region, and we will help them succeed. American and Iraqi forces are on the hunt side by side to defeat the terrorists. As we hunt down our common enemies, we will continue to train more Iraqi security forces.
Our strategy is straightforward: As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And when Iraqi forces can defend their freedom by taking more and more of the fight to the enemy, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.

Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve. Yet people across the Middle East are choosing a future of freedom and prosperity and hope. And as they take these brave steps, Americans will continue to stand with them because we know that free and democratic nations are peaceful nations. By advancing the cause of liberty in the Middle East, we will bring hope to millions and security to our own citizens. And we will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren. Thank you for listening.

END

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

Op-Ed: Of Minds and Metrics

By Michael Barone
The U.S. News

Metrics are hard to come by in the war on terrorism. We can know the number of improvised explosive devices that go off in Iraq and the number of suicide bombers there, but we can only guess at whether these numbers represent the last throes of a terrorist movement or its continuing growth. We can count the number of days the Iraqi parliament has moved the deadline for drafting a constitution--seven, as this is written--but cannot be sure what the effect of a finally drafted constitution will be. We can note that some 220,000 Iraqis took part in deliberations over the constitution and that the Iraqi electricity supply now exceeds that of prewar levels.

But the most important changes occurring, not just in Iraq but across the Muslim world, are changes in people's minds. These are harder, but not impossible, to measure. George W. Bush has proclaimed that we are working to build democracy in Iraq not just for Iraqis but in order to advance freedom and defeat fanatical Islamist terrorism around the world. Now comes the Pew Global Attitudes Project's recent survey of opinion in six Muslim countries to tell us that progress is being made in achieving that goal. Minds are being changed and in the right direction.

Most important, support for terrorism in defense of Islam has "declined dramatically," in the Pew report's words, in Muslim countries, except in Jordan (which has a Palestinian majority) and Turkey, where support has remained a low 14 percent. It has fallen in Indonesia (from 27 to 15 percent since 2002), Pakistan (from 41 to 25 percent since 2004), Morocco (from 40 to 13 percent since 2004), and among Muslims in Lebanon (from 73 to 26 percent since 2002). Support for suicide bombings against Americans in Iraq has also declined. The percentage reporting some confidence in Osama bin Laden is now under 10 percent in Lebanon and Turkey and has fallen sharply in Indonesia.

Similarly, when asked whether democracy was a western way of doing things or could work well in their own country, between 77 and 83 percent in Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, and Indonesia say it could work in their country--in each case a significant increase from earlier surveys. In Turkey, with its sharp political divisions, and Pakistan, with its checkered history, the percentages hover around 50 percent.

Polls in the United States may show that Americans have become less supportive of our efforts in Iraq as the suicide bombings and roadside-bomb attacks continue. But the Pew polls in these Muslim countries show that those attacks have moved Muslim opinion against the terrorists and toward democracy. Muslims around the world cannot help but notice that Iraq is moving, however imperfectly, toward representative government. They can't have missed the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon and the expulsion of Syrian forces from Beirut. They may have noticed the small concessions to democracy in Saudi Arabia.

New stakeholders. They may also have noticed that Egypt will have its first contested election for president this year. "There were no arguments over the United States, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, or any of the other 'hot spots' that used to dominate every meal and spill over into tea, coffee, and dessert," writes Mona Eltahawy in the Washington Post of her trip to Egypt this summer. "This time, all conversations were about a small but active opposition movement in Egypt that since December has focused on ending the dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak. I have never heard so many relatives and friends take such an interest in Egyptian politics or--more important--feel that they had a stake in them." Minds are indeed changing.

This is not to say that everybody in these countries has good things to say about the United States. But we are not engaged in a popularity contest. We're trying to construct a safer world. We are in the long run better off if Muslims around the world turn away from terrorism and move toward democracy, even if we don't like some of the internal policies they choose and even if they don't have much affection for the United States. Two generations ago Americans, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths, changed minds in Germany and Japan. The Pew Global Project Attitude's metrics give us reason to believe that today's Americans, at far lower cost, are once again changing minds in the Muslim world.

The Road After Gaza

Robert Malley and Aaron D. Miller

24 August 2005
The Washington Post

Israel's disengagement from Gaza is a historic event, but for Palestinians and Israelis it will soon be history. Even before the last settler was evacuated, attention had shifted to what will come next. With 2006 an election year in Palestine, Israel and the United States, bold moves are unlikely. Yet prolonged diplomatic slow-motion would be the surest path to renewed confrontation.

Two huge challenges limit what is feasible in the months ahead. First is a large expectations gap. Uncertainty as to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's intentions has been fueled by his hawkish past and contradictory statements. He has sought to convince the international community that evacuating Gaza was the first in a series of moves, while indicating to members of his right-wing constituency that it was the last of them.

Whatever his intentions, there is little doubt that for now he wants to do little, and do it slowly. As he sees it, withdrawal from Gaza is not meant to set the stage for a conflict-ending agreement -- in which he does not believe -- or to take Israel back to borders approximating the 1967 lines -- which he rejects.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is operating according to a very different political clock. Palestinians, convinced that Sharon is giving up Gaza to hold on to the West Bank, will clamor for a return to final-status talks, and Israelis will balk. Should negotiations begin, Palestinians will call for an outcome along the lines discussed in 2000 and 2001, while Israelis will insist on a long-term interim arrangement -- and, possibly, implement it unilaterally. The bottom line: After disengagement it will be impossible to ignore the fundamental gap separating Israeli and Palestinian strategies, extremely difficult to address it and foolhardy not to try to.

The second challenge is the electoral contests in Israel and Palestine, which are far more likely to produce political posturing and catering to extremes than daring and courageous diplomacy. Sharon is facing a tough battle within his own party -- even before national elections, which must be held by November 2006 and will probably occur much sooner. The resignation of Israel's finance minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, gives Sharon's opponents a skilled leader. In the months ahead Sharon will consolidate his political base, not weaken it, move to the right, not to the center, and focus on what he can do to placate his constituency, not the Palestinians. The flip side of settlement evacuation in Gaza may well be settlement expansion in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Abbas faces his own political challenges. Critical legislative council elections are scheduled for January. With the dominant Fatah movement in disarray, growing public discontent with lawlessness and corruption and sharpening power struggles with the militant Islamic organization Hamas, Abbas is not in a position to launch a major initiative in coming months. He will ask his people to give diplomacy a chance, but he cannot seriously argue that diplomacy liberated Gaza; disengagement was decided before he came to power and would have occurred even had he not.

And while Abbas has no obvious strategy for dealing with the frustrations of West Bank residents, Hamas may. The pause that Sharon needs to protect his political future is precisely what might threaten Abbas's. The most likely scenario is one in which the Islamist movement and other militias maintain calm in Gaza while challenging the Palestinian Authority for lack of progress on prisoner releases, continued settlement activity and the absence of an overall solution. They would then invoke this paralysis to escalate attacks in the West Bank. The bottom line: Moving fast will hurt Sharon's standing; moving slowly will undercut Abbas's. Neither man is prone to political suicide.

For the Bush administration, the implications are clear. There is much Sharon and Abbas should do but won't: turn quickly toward final-status talks, disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad, freeze construction in Jewish settlements. Meanwhile, back in the real world, efforts must be made to manage the impending strategic clash between Israeli and Palestinian expectations, minimize the risk of armed confrontation and preserve the option of a viable two-state solution.

Israel wants time to digest a traumatic disengagement. Palestinians need convincing that it is only a first step. A feasible middle course would entail focusing on rapid, practical improvements in the West Bank, such as Israeli withdrawal from reoccupied cities, a lifting of checkpoints and release of prisoners, in tandem with improved Palestinian security performance. It would also entail preventing steps that prejudge final-status issues and might in fact preclude their resolution. Israel's path-breaking evacuation should be given full material and political support. But endorsing it should not include endorsing what has come with it and may come after, in particular efforts by Israel to consolidate its hold over a wide area in and around Jerusalem, which would rule out the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

Finally, a diplomatic timeout will be sustainable only if Palestinians are clearly shown what lies at its end. For this reason, the United States should present the outlines of a permanent solution, with full Arab and international support.

Israel's disengagement is a watershed event. But for all the drama and trauma, Gaza is still only the overture.

Robert Malley is Middle East program director at the International Crisis Group and was President Bill Clinton's special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs. Aaron D. Miller worked at the State Department for 25 years as a Middle East negotiator and adviser on Arab-Israeli affairs.

8.27.2005


Bush Outlines U.S. Anti-terror Strategy

Says terrorists will fail because they have nothing positive to offer

Washington -- President Bush says the United States will "stay on the offense" in the War on Terror and will not relent in what he described as a "different kind of war" fought with military power, diplomatic power, intelligence and law enforcement.

"We'll complete our work in Afghanistan and Iraq,” the president said in an August 24 speech to the Idaho National Guard. "An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations."

He described Iraq as "one of the most important battlefronts" in the broader war, and said that the success of a free Iraq will deal a "crushing blow" to terrorists who aim to dominate the region.

"So long as I am president we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terrorism," he declared.
Bush said that the global War on Terror, the United States has followed a consistent three-pronged strategy:

• Defending the homeland,

• Going after the terrorists "where they live," and

• Spreading "the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East."

The president said this war "affects the safety and security of every American," noting that over 1,700 soldiers of the Idaho Guard are currently serving in Iraq and that more than 243,000 members of the National Guard have been mobilized for various missions in the War on Terror since September 11, 2001.

He said that the National Guard’s service is needed in these dangerous times and that the United States remains a nation at war. He then listed places where terrorist attacks have occurred since September 11, 2001: Madrid, Spain; Istanbul, Turkey; Jakarta, Indonesia; Casablanca, Morocco; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the island of Bali; Baghdad, Iraq; London; and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Noting the effect of terrorist control of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, Bush said, "We will not allow the terrorists to establish new places of refuge in failed states from which they can recruit and train and plan new attacks on our citizens." Following September 11, 2001, terror attacks, Bush said he "made a decision -- America will not wait to be attacked again. … We will confront emerging threats before they fully materialize." And regimes harboring terrorists are just as guilty as the terrorists, he added.

DEFENDING THE HOMELAND

Discussing U.S. homeland defense, Bush cited strengthened intelligence capabilities, the training of more than 800,000 "first responders," and unspecified measures to protect U.S. cities and borders and infrastructure.

"We have taken the fight to the enemy in our midst," he said. "We've disrupted terrorist cells and financing networks in California and Oregon and Illinois and New Jersey and Virginia, and other states."

He added that the terrorists "blend in with the civilian population … emerge to strike, and then they retreat back into the shadows."

GO AFTER THE TERRORISTS WHERE THEY LIVE

The United States will not wait to be attacked again, but will go after the terrorists -- where they live, the president said.

This approach has the benefit of keeping terrorists on the defensive, he said. "When the terrorists spend their days and nights struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training and plotting new attacks on America and the rest of the civilized world," he said.

SPREADING HOPE OF FREEDOM ACROSS THE BROADER MIDDLE EAST

The third part of the U.S. anti-terror strategy is the long-term tactic of giving the people of the broader Middle East "an alternative to [the terrorists'] ideology of hatred and fear," Bush said.

"So a key component of our strategy is to spread freedom."

The violence they are creating in Iraq, Bush said, clearly shows terrorists' determination to stop democracy from taking root in the Middle East. A free Iraq "will be a crushing blow to their strategy to dominate the region, and threaten America and the free world."

The terrorists will fail, Bush said, "because they have nothing positive to offer.”

The United States, its coalition allies and the Iraqi people "will prevail in this struggle because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind," Bush said.

A transcript of the president's remarks is available on the State Department’s Web site.

For additional information on U.S. anti-terror strategy, see Response to Terrorism.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

Mubarak Campaigns, but Does That Mean Democracy?

By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
New York Times
Published: August 26, 2005

MINYA, Egypt, Aug. 25 - A hot breeze blew through the reed hut just on the banks of the Nile yesterday. President Hosni Mubarak, his shirt collar opened, sat casually inside as a local man recited a poem and the man's wife served the president a glass of tea.

For television viewers around Egypt, it looked as though Mr. Mubarak had visited a village to mingle with its people and for them, in turn, to offer him their praise. "I swear to God, oh Mubarak, that I am in love with you," the man, Mahmoud Fathy, declared through a toothless grin.

But this was a one-time, carefully scripted moment intended to make the president look like a man of the people, part of his campaign for election to a fifth six-year term.

The theater of politics has arrived in Egypt, a country that has never known democracy. But many people are asking what it means that campaign posters are going up and that opposition candidates are criticizing the government. The campaign season - a mere 19 days before the Sept. 7 election - has sparked a debate about whether Egypt's first multicandidate presidential campaign is an honest first step toward a freer and more open political life in Egypt or merely a facade intended to help preserve the power of the old guard.

Those close to the president say that the very act of holding a campaign is a step toward awakening a society that has been politically lethargic for decades, that it will allow the creation of a political class and that it will produce political institutions independent of the government or the ruling National Democratic Party.

The progress can be incremental, and at times seems more about changing attitudes inside Egypt's huge bureaucracy than about promoting democratic values. The very facts that Mr. Mubarak's speeches as a candidate are not broadcast live on state-run television, and that photographers other than those working for the president are permitted to take his picture, are counted by some of his supporters as reforms.

"What is important is the new dynamics existing now in this society," said Muhammad Abdullah, president of Alexandria University and a leading figure in the ruling party. "The idea of competition, and defeating the idea of the pharaoh, will give way to new steps. We are starting a new real era in our life."

But there are many others who say a campaign - no matter how robust - is not to be confused with democracy. The state still controls the news media, and the newspapers have been almost fawning in their coverage of the president. The state controls Al Azhar, the nation's chief religious institution, and the sheik of Al Azhar, Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, has publicly sworn his allegiance to Mr. Mubarak.

No one even seems to know just how many people in Egypt are registered to vote. Officials routinely say there are more than 30 million eligible voters, but they cannot say, or at least have not said, how many actually possess the necessary voter card.

"Are they committed to change? The answer is no," said Hisham Kassem, a leader of the Tomorrow Party, which is running a presidential candidate, Ayman Nour. "They have to give the impression of free and fair elections. But practically, they are very far from that."

Since Mr. Mubarak came to power in 1981, after Anwar el-Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists, he has charted a cautious course. But by any account, Egyptians are now seeing and hearing things they have never experienced in their lifetimes, and their leaders are taking incremental steps that are seismic in a society like this.

"He does things one tiny step at a time," Youssef Boutrous Ghali, Egypt's minister of finance, said of the president. "He is not the man to take one bold step. But he is not the one to take this step if he would not let it reach its natural conclusion."

Even George Ishak, a founding member of the movement called Kifaya, which means enough, as in enough of Mr. Mubarak, has acknowledged that Egyptians are experiencing something new - though in his view, insufficient.

"We can't deny that there is a new political dynamic, but it is piecemeal," Mr. Ishak said. "We are against this piecemeal approach to change. There is either change or not change."

In past presidential campaigns, Mr. Mubarak was the only candidate on the ballot. This time he not only paved the way with a constitutional amendment that permitted a multicandidate race (there are nine candidates opposing him), but he has also agreed to behave like a candidate. And that in itself is viewed in the Egyptian context as reform.

But it is hard, after more than two decades in power, for the state, its citizens and its bureaucracy, to treat Mr. Mubarak as a candidate. "With our blood, with our souls, we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Mubarak," the carefully screened crowd chanted as he entered a tent on a small island in the Nile to give his campaign speech on Thursday.

"I will donate my organs for you," one man shouted after jumping to his feet and pumping his hand in the air as Mr. Mubarak spoke.

The president was relaxed at the dais. He repeatedly thanked the audience for its support, and at one point tried to stop the "blood and soul" chant, which was routinely shouted during rallies in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, for example.

"There are some people who dislike this whole spirit and blood, or soul and blood business," he told the crowd. "It's better to change it."

He talked about raising teachers' salaries. He talked about the benefit of educating women and allowing them a greater role in civil society. And he talked about working with the people to build a brighter future.

For some it was a message that resonated as forward thinking, as a step toward democracy. For others, the event did not matter. It remained all about the man, a learned response after decades in which all power was vested in one man, and one party.

As soon as the speech was finished, Alaa Hussein rushed toward the stage, but was stopped by plainclothes security officials. He was carrying a large letter mounted in a gold frame. It was written in the blood of local people, and marked with more than 100 bloody thumbprints.

"People cut themselves and used their blood to do this," Mr. Hussein said. "It is a way of showing our allegiance to the president."

Mines Kill 2 Policemen in Sinai

CAIRO, Aug. 25 (Reuters) - Land mines in the Sinai Peninsula killed two Egyptian policemen on Thursday, in the second such blast in two days during a hunt for suspects behind attacks on Sharm el Sheik last month, the Interior Ministry said.

A statement from the ministry did not say whether the mines, at Mount Halal in the northeast region of Sinai, had been laid recently or were left over from past wars with Israel.

But a Sinai security official contended that the mines had been laid by the suspects in the July 23 attacks on the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik that killed at least 64 people.

Iraqi Draft Constitution Balances Islam, Democracy, Envoy Says

Ambassador Khalilzad urges parties to negotiate in "spirit of compromise"

Iraq’s new draft constitution strikes a careful balance between the country’s Islamic traditions and its democratic aspirations, according to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

“This country is in the process of being built on new principles, but these principles of course cannot be divorced from the history and traditions of Iraq,” Khalilzad told reporters at an August 23 press conference in Baghdad.

He said the constitution prohibits the passage of any law that contradicts the principles of Islam, democracy or human rights. “This constitution with regards to rights is a synthesis,” he said, “a synthesis between the Islamic traditions of this country and the universal principles of democracy and human rights.”

The ambassador added that the draft document “contains the most far-reaching democratic and human rights commitments that exist in any constitution in this part of the world.”

Iraq’s constitutional committee submitted a draft constitution to the Transitional National Assembly August 22 but requested that the assembly delay voting on it for three days to allow negotiators additional time to discuss a few remaining issues. The negotiators may submit amendments to the text through August 25, at which time the assembly will vote to approve or reject the document.

Khalilzad urged all parties to approach these ongoing negotiations over the remaining issues with realistic expectations and a generous attitude in order to ensure the success of the political process.

“Everyone needs to continue to work with the spirit of compromise and with the view of taking the national interest of Iraq into account, to make this document a national compact in which all communities in Iraq see themselves as shareholders in regard to the future of this country,” he said.

The ambassador said this is a time for Iraqis to reach out across ethnic and sectarian divides in order to establish a new foundation for the country.

Responding to a question about the possible role of clerics on the Supreme Court, Khalilzad said that the court will need a certain amount of expertise to fulfill its constitutional mandate of ensuring that laws do not violate the principles of Islam, democracy or human rights.

“There need to be experts on those three things added to the court since this will be a new responsibility for the court to have responsibility over the three sources: democracy, human rights, and Islam,” he said. However, he dismissed the idea that this would make the Supreme Court a religious court.

He praised the negotiators for arriving at mutually acceptable compromises on the role of Islam in the government.

“There are people who want entirely a secular state and there are people who want to establish a Shari'a-dominated state and given the realities, I think where they have come out is right for Iraq at the present time,” he said.

Once the assembly accepts a draft constitution, the constitution will be presented to the Iraqi voters in an October 15 referendum. If accepted, the constitution will serve as the basis for a new round of national elections December 15.

For additional information, see Iraq’s Political Process.

The transcript of Khalilzad’s press conference

Text of Proposed Iraq Constitution

By The Associated Press

The Associated Press
Monday, August 22, 2005; 8:22 PM

-- Chapter One

Article One

The Republic of Iraq is an independent state.

Article Two

The political system is republican, parliamentary, democratic and federal.

1. Islam is a main source for legislation.

_ a. No law may contradict Islamic standards.
_ b. No law may contradict democratic standards.
_ c. No law may contradict the essential rights and freedoms mentioned in this constitution.

2. This constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the Iraqi people and guarantees all religious rights; all persons are free within their ideology and the practice of their ideological practices.

3. Iraq is part of the Islamic world, and the Arabs are part of the Arab nation.

4.

a. Arabic and Kurdish are the two official languages, and Iraqis have the right to teach their sons their mother language like the Turkomen and Assyrian in the government educational institutes.

b. The language used orally in official institutions such as the Parliament and the Cabinet as well as official conventions should be one of the two languages.

c. Recognizing the official documents with the two languages.

d. Opening the schools with two languages.

Article Three

Federal institutions in Kurdistan should use the two languages.

Article Four

The Turkomen and Assyrian languages are the official languages in the Turkomen and Assyrian areas, and each territory or province has the right to use its own official language if residents have approved in a general referendum vote.

Article Five

Power is transferred peacefully through democratic ways.

Article Seven

1. Any organization that follow a racist, terrorist, extremist, sectarian-cleaning ideology or circulates or justifies such beliefs is banned, especially Saddam's Baath Party in Iraq and its symbols under any name. And this should not be part of the political pluralism in Iraq.

2. The government is committed to fighting terrorism in all its forms, and works to protect Iraqi soil from being a center or passage for terrorist activities.

CHAPTER TWO

Article 35

_ a. Human freedom and dignity are guaranteed.
_ b. No person can be detained or interrogated without a judicial order.
_ c. All kinds of physical and psychological torture and inhumane treatment are prohibited, and any confession is considered void if it was taken by force, threats and torture. The person who was harmed has the right to ask for compensation for the financial and moral damage he/she suffered.

Article 36

The State guarantees:

1. Freedom of expression by all means.

2. Freedom of the press, printing, advertising and publishing.

Article 37

Freedom to establish political groups and organizations.

Article 39

Iraqis are free to abide in their personal lives according to their religion, sects, beliefs or choice. This should be organized by law.

CHAPTER THREE

Article 66

A presidential candidate should:

1. Be Iraqi by birth and the offspring of two Iraqi parents.
2. Be no less than 40 years old.
3. Have a good reputation and political experience, and be known as honest and faithful to the nation.

Article 75

The prime minister should have all the qualifications as the presidential candidate and should have a university degree or its equivalent and should not be less than 35 years old.

Article 104

A general commission should be set up to observe and specify the central (government) revenues, and the commission should be made up of experts from the central government, regions, provinces and representatives.

CHAPTER 4:

Article 107

Federal authorities should preserve Iraq's unity, security, independence and sovereignty and its democratic federal system.

Article 109

Oil and gas are the property of all the Iraqi people in regions and provinces.

Article 110

The central government administers oil and gas extracted from current wells, along with governments of the producing regions and provinces, on the condition that revenues are distributed in a way that suits population distribution around the country.

CHAPTER FIVE

Article 114

1. A region consists of one or more provinces, and two or more regions have the right to create a single region.

2. A province or more has the right to set a region according to a referendum called for in one of two ways:

_ a. A demand by one-third of all members of each of the provincial councils that aims to set up a region.

_ b. A demand by one-tenth of voters of the provinces that aim to set up a region.

Article 117

A region's legislative authority is made up of one council, named the National Assembly of the region.

Article 118

The National Council of the region drafts the region's constitution and issues laws, which must not contradict this constitution and Iraq's central laws.

Article 120

The executive authority of the region is made up of the president of the region and the region's government.

Article 128

The region's revenues are made up from the specified allotment from the national budget and from the local revenues of the region.

Article 129

The regional government does what is needed to administer the region, especially setting up internal security forces, such as police, security and region guards.

Article 135

This constitution guarantees the administrative, political, cultural and educational rights of different ethnic groups such as Turkomen, Chaldean, Assyrians and other groups.

CHAPTER SIX

Article 144

The Iraq Supreme Criminal Court continues its work as a legislative, independent commission to look into the crimes of the former dictatorial regime and its symbols, and the Council of Deputies has the right to annul it after it ends its duties.

Article 145

a. The Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification continues its work as an independent commission, in coordination with the judicial authority and executive institutions and according to laws that organize its work.

b. Parliament has the right to dissolve this commission after it ends its work, with a two-thirds majority.

Article 151

No less than 25 percent of Council of Deputies seats go to women.

Article 153

This law is considered in force after people vote on it in a general referendum and when it is published in the official Gazette and the Council of Deputies is elected according to it.

Op-Ed: When U.S. 'realism' means pining for the status quo

By Michael Young
Daily Star staff
Thursday, August 25, 2005

Last Monday, in a speech before the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in Salt Lake City, U.S. President George W. Bush declared: "As more nations replace tyranny with liberty, and replace hatred with hope, America will be more secure. Our nation has accepted a mission, and we are moving forward with resolve."

The grandiloquence of the phrase must have provoked a gnashing of teeth among those who oppose the war in Iraq, but also those who see Bush's idealism as intolerable puffery. Political realists count themselves in the latter category, and last week one of theirs, Foreign Affairs managing editor Gideon Rose, published an impudent commentary in The New York Times informing readers that "the Bush doctrine has collapsed, so the administration has embraced realism, American foreign policy's perennial hangover cure." And what is realism, in Rose's formulation? The pursuit of "interests rather than ideals and conciliation rather than confrontation."

Rose went on to argue that a dichotomy has existed in American foreign policy since the start of the cold war (though, in fact, it far predates the last half-century), between presidents pursuing grand moral objectives and more "realistic" counterparts who favor prudence abroad and have frequently been brought in to clean up the mess left by the dreamers. Against the "idealistic" Harry Truman, Rose places the temperate Dwight Eisenhower; against John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who "set about paying any price and bearing any burden for their ideals," he places Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who extricated the United States from Vietnam, forged a new relationship with the Soviet Union and started a rapprochement with China, earning them vilification as "cold-blooded amoral schemers out of touch with American principles and values."

The idealist-realist debate is usually conducted tongue in cheek, largely because both sides tend to so shamelessly downplay what contradicts their arguments, while rarely admitting what should be obvious after almost a century of watching America navigate global politics: all administrations have blended idealism and realism, albeit in different doses, so that Rose's sharply-drawn lines are, in the end, unconvincing.

For example, he highlights the three pillars of the Bush doctrine, which were most clearly expressed in the administration's September 2002 National Security Strategy (NSS), as "preemption, regime change and a clear division between those 'with us' and 'against us.'" In fact, the supposedly realist Eisenhower and Nixon administrations were eager advocates - if not always successful ones - of regime change, whether in Guatemala and Iran in the 1950s, or in Chile and probably Cambodia in the early 1970s. The two Nixon administrations could be as undiscerning in imposing "us" and "them" categories when it came to third-world countries that risked siding with America's communist foes, as they could be flexible when dealing directly with the Soviet Union and China.

In fact, the Bush administration's NSS is an uncanny hodgepodge of idealism and realism. It does indeed outline what Rose says it does (though he missed its main assertion, namely that the administration would not allow states to seek parity with or surpass American power), but it also promises to "create a balance of power that favors human freedom: conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty."

And if that reference to "balance," a mainstay of realist thought, isn't enough, the NSS goes on to insist, in a phrase that Rose would surely applaud: "No nation can build a safer, better world alone. Alliances and multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations. The United States is committed to lasting institutions like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of American States, and NATO as well as other long-standing alliances."

Why this mishmash of intentions? Because government papers are written by contending bureaucracies, so that if everyone does his job right, the end result is contradiction or, at best, "constructive" ambiguity. More specifically, the person who oversaw preparation of the NSS was then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, avatar of the document's paradoxes: a realist by temperament, she was obliged to adopt Bush's extravagant ambitions after September 11, so that, as author James Mann noted in his indispensable "The Rise of the Vulcans," the very phrase quoted earlier about the balance of power was really a compromise between administration realists and neoconservatives. Abutting the word "balance" was the neocons' resolve to advance human freedom.

How is this debate useful in the Middle East? It would be unfortunate if the Bush administration were to fully retreat to the dry gulch of realism in the region, for three main reasons.

First, it would mean returning to the allegedly untroubled "balance" provided by dealing with dictators, since a (much ignored) tenet of realism is respect for sovereignty: states deal with states, so it should not be a U.S. concern if an ally is also a thug. However, surrendering the dissemination of democracy as a foreign policy instrument would be irresponsible, particularly in a changing world where the pull of open societies is far more vigorous than ever. The fact that the Bush administration has engaged in "rendering" - sending terrorist suspects to Arab countries to be interrogated and possibly tortured - underlines how adulterated is its idealism in this regard. However, its strategy of strongly favoring democratic behavior by regimes has been effective, even if much more can be done.

A second reason is that the realists' fondness for state-to-state relations may soon prove anachronistic as the shockwaves of Iraqi federalism hit the Middle East. With religious and ethnic communities emerging as definers of state relations in Iraq, multi-communal or multi-ethnic societies in the region may also begin realigning themselves according to primary loyalties. This doesn't necessarily mean the end of the Arab state, but as communities gain the upper hand over centralized authority, many states will be redefined so that their powers are dramatically reduced. In other words, the possible collapse of the traditional Arab state system may leave realists minus the partners with whom they are familiar.

Finally, realists never fessed up to the fact that their policies in the Arab world, by justifying tolerance for dictatorships whose brutality provoked a violent Islamist backlash, made September 11 possible. This was the neocon critique, and it remains relevant. Realists regard international affairs as a perpetual negotiation over interests; and while they accept the force of ideology, they often err in miscalculating its sway, because they are so mistrustful of ideology in the first place. That's why idealists have an advantage over realists in understanding the clout of militant Islam, and it's why neocons had a response to Sepember 11 when the realists did not.

Bush is indeed resorting to more realism in Iraq, and no one should be surprised; even his administration never believed in absolute unilateralism, which is, anyway, a political impossibility. However, democratic idealism and the U.S. ability to shape Iraqi politics are perhaps the only potent arrows the administration has left in a much-depleted quiver. Sadly, it seems to be steadily abandoning both, hence the realists' delight - a delight that confuses success with embrace of the status quo.

Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR.

Security Critical to Success of Palestinian Takeover of Gaza

United States, other countries support reform of Palestinian security apparatus

By Phillip Kurata
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- A senior U.S. official says it is critical that the Palestinian Authority disarm HAMAS and other terrorist organizations in order to take advantage of the opportunity for progress toward peace presented by the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

"In the road map, there is a requirement to take steps toward the dismantlement of the terror organizations. Hamas is for us [the United States] a terror organization. I would expect that the Palestinian Authority would do those things. We have made those requirements clear to them," Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch said in a briefing about the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza August 24.

The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and several settlements in the northern sector of the West Bank is the first significant Israeli pullback from Palestinian areas Israel occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Welch said.

"[S]ecurity is the beginning, the middle and the end and security can not be had either for the people in those areas or for those who live around them if there is a variety of armed organizations that are allowed to operate," Welch said.

Welch said U.S. General William Ward is working with the Palestinian Authority to reform the Palestinian security apparatus and trim the number and size of its units so that they function effectively under the authority of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"President Abbas is very clear that he sees the path forward to realizing the aspirations of his people to be one of peaceful engagement, not the use of violence and terror. He was elected on a platform of peace, and he advocates that. Of course, I believe that the central requirement of the Israelis is exactly the same," Welch said. Abbas won more than 60 percent of the votes in the January election for the Palestinian presidency on a campaign platform of seeking a peace with Israel.

Welch said that a number of countries, mainly from the European Union, are providing direct material support to the Palestinian security organization. "Non-lethal support, everything from radio equipment, to vehicles to office machines, computers, that kind of thing. There are other countries involved in providing uniforms, physical structures, in building infrastructure," he added.

Speaking in Donnelly, Idaho, August 23, President Bush said Abbas has made a commitment to fight violence "because he understands a democracy can't exist with terrorist groups trying to take the law into their own hands." (See related article.)

"Along these lines, we've also got General Ward on the ground, helping the Palestinians consolidate their security forces. It turns out that the post-Arafat regime is one of different factions and different security forces that were really in place to kind of maintain his power, but not necessarily to protect the overall security of the Palestinian people. It's in the interest to consolidate the security forces," Bush added.

Welch said Palestinian success in bringing the terrorist groups under control will provide a basis for both sides to make further advances toward peace according to an international plan known as the road map.

"[T]he road map ... has obligations on the part of both parties, which we believe they should act upon, again, to try to build confidence, so that we can open up the possibility that there be serious negotiations between the two, leading to a better future," Welch said.

Welch said the United States is the largest single donor of assistance to the Palestinian people, contributing approximately $350 million in 2005.

Welch said he personally delivered $50 million in U.S. assistance when he met with Abbas at his Gaza City office at the beginning of the Israeli withdrawal.

"[W]e've actually delivered the money becoming the first, I believe, to put cash on the table in support of jobs for the Palestinian people," Welch said.

He said that the participants in the Gleneagles summit of the Group Eight industrialized nations in July made commitments to secure up to $3 billion per year for three years in funding to support the revival of the Palestinian economy.

A transcript of Welch’s briefing is available on the State Department Foreign Press Center Web site.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

8.25.2005

Secular Iraqis Say New Charter May Curb Rights

By DEXTER FILKINS
New York Times
August 24, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 23 - Some secular Iraqi leaders complained Tuesday that the country's nearly finished constitution lays the groundwork for the possible domination of the country by Shiite Islamic clerics, and that it contains specific provisions that could sharply curtail the rights of women.

The secular leaders said the draft, which was presented to the National Assembly on Monday, contains language that not only establishes the primacy of Islam as the country's official religion, but appears to grant judges wide latitude to strike down legislation that may contravene the faith. To interpret such legislation, the constitution calls for the appointment of experts in Shariah, or Islamic law, to preside on the Supreme Federal Court.

The draft constitution, these secular Iraqis say, clears the way for religious authorities to adjudicate personal disputes like divorce and inheritance matters by allowing the establishment of religious courts, raising fears that a popularly elected Islamist-minded government could enact legislation and appoint judges who could turn the country into a theocracy.

The courts would rely on Shariah, which under most interpretations grants women substantially fewer rights than men.

Language reserving a quarter of the Assembly's seats for women has been relegated to a section of the constitution labeled transitional, which is of uncertain legal force and duration. Another phrase declares that education is mandatory only through elementary school. Women's rights groups, which expressed concern about lower levels of literacy among women here, wanted middle school to be declared mandatory as well, but were defeated.

President Bush, in an appearance in Idaho on Tuesday, asserted that the Iraqi document guaranteed women's rights and the freedom of religion in a country that in recent decades had only known dictatorship.

Labeling the Iraqi constitution an "amazing event," he said, "We had a little trouble with our own conventions writing a constitution."

The Iraqi constitution, several weeks in the making, is still not in its final form. After weeks of deliberations and an extension of its deadline, a group of Iraqi leaders submitted an incomplete draft to the Assembly on Monday night. The leaders gave themselves until Thursday to work out the remaining disputes. According to Shiite and Kurdish leaders, who wrote most of the document, none of those differences involved questions of Islam or women's rights.

Many Iraqis say they are already concerned at the strengthening grip of political Islam in many areas of southern Iraq, where alcohol is banned in many places, women are forced to dress conservatively and religious minorities often feel compelled to mimic those in the majority.

Most of the cities of southern Iraq have fallen under the sway of the same Shiite political parties that make up the ruling coalition in Baghdad, one that many people believe has a good chance at capturing a majority of Assembly seats in the elections scheduled for December.

"This is the future of the new Iraqi government - it will be in the hands of the clerics," said Dr. Raja Kuzai, a secular Shiite member of the Assembly. "I wanted Iraqi women to be free, to be able to talk freely and to able to move around."

"I am not going to stay here," said Dr. Kuzai, an obstetrician and women's leader who met President Bush in the White House in November 2003.

Other Iraqi leaders who helped draft the constitution say the fears of nascent theocracy are unfounded. The new draft constitution, they point out, contains language guaranteeing equal rights for all Iraqis, as well as freedom of expression and religion. And it contains important safeguards, such as, in some cases, the requirement of super-majorities to approve laws.

Ahmad Chalabi, the deputy prime minister, said the Iraqi draft constitution erected a more stringent separation of state and religion than any such document in the Middle East. Mr. Chalabi said the new language allowing a clerical role in family disputes was inserted by popular demand, and that, in any case, any Iraqi would be free to reject it and opt for a secular court.

"There is no compulsion; they are free to do whatever they want," said Mr. Chalabi, the former White House favorite who has recently moved closer to Islamist politicians like Moktada al-Sadr. "There was much discontent among people because they were forced to follow laws they didn't believe in."

Asked about the possibility of a theocratic government in Iraq, the American ambassador here, Zalmay Khalilzad, argued that the document strives for a balance of authority among Islam, human rights and democracy.

"The draft contains far-reaching democratic and human rights commitments," he said during a news conference. "It's a synthesis between Islamic traditions of the country with the universal principles of democracy and human rights, and in that sense, it sets a new path for the future."

The Shiite and Kurdish leaders who bear primary responsibility for drafting the document have given public assurances that the new constitution would protect individual rights, and that they have built safeguards into the draft to ensure that Iraq will not become theocracy.

Mr. Khalilzad acknowledged the limits of American influence here, saying it was not the intention of the Bush administration to impose what would amount to a Western constitution on a country with a different history and tradition.

"These are decisions that Iraqis have made for themselves," he said. "We don't want to impose on Iraq a cookie-cutter approach. That's not American foreign policy."

But some secular-minded Iraqis criticized American diplomats for not working harder to block efforts by Shiite politicians, many of whom are clerics, to expand the reach of Islam.

Mahmood Othman, a Kurdish legislator, said Kurdish leaders did not vigorously oppose Islamist language in part because American diplomats often did not object either. For instance, Mr. Othman said, American diplomats had acquiesced to the language that would clear the way for clerical adjudication of family and personal disputes.

"The Kurds thought, as long as the Americans don't object, why should we object?" Mr. Othman said. "It's American policy to show that it is not opposed to Islam."

In his Idaho appearance, Mr. Bush said he was optimistic despite a prediction by the negotiator for the Sunni Muslim minority that the country would "rise in the streets" if the constitution, as currently written, is approved.

"You know, you're speaking about one voice," the president told a small group of reporters at the Tamarack resort near Donnelly, Idaho. "There is more than one Sunni involved in the process. Reaching an accord on a constitution, after years of dictatorship, is not easy. And so you're seeing people express their opinion. "

The Sunnis, Mr. Bush added, "have got to make a choice: do they want to live in a society that's free, or do they want to live in violence?"

Shiite and Kurdish leaders who drafted most of the document say they will try to find an agreement on language with the Sunnis, whose main objection is the demand by Shiite leaders for a large autonomous region in the south.

Secular Iraqi leaders say there are three areas in the constitution that worry them. While they say the constitution would change nothing by itself, they worry about the language establishing Islam as the official religion of the state and as "a primary source of legislation." The constitution then says there can be no law that contradicts the "basic beliefs of Islam."

Some Iraqis fear that the phrase is so broad as to allow Iraqi judges wide latitude in striking down secular legislation. Some said they had preferred a phrase saying that no law could contradict the "agreed upon" principles of Islam, which they say would have substantially narrowed the sort of legislation that could be struck down.

In addition, some Iraqis are concerned about language that would allow experts in "Shariah law" to sit on the Iraqi Supreme Federal Court.

Some worried that such experts would inevitably be clerics. The clause does not answer such crucial questions as how many such experts would sit on the court or how they would be appointed. Instead, it calls for a law to be written by a future elected body.

As a safeguard against a possibly overweening majority, the constitution states that the law must be approved by a two-thirds majority.

"What this means is that, before we pass a law, we're going to have to run it past a Shariah law expert," said Wael Abdul Latif, a Shiite judge and member of the constitutional drafting committee. "I'm upset. Very."

The other section prompting worry is one that deals with "personal law," governing affairs like marriage, divorce and inheritance. The new constitution declares that "Iraqis are free to abide in their personal lives according to their religions, sects or beliefs." And it calls for a law to set up a system to deal with such matters.

Many Iraqi leaders, including those who took part in the negotiations over that phrase, said the language would clear the way for the Assembly to set up religious courts to regulate such matters. Secular Iraqi leaders fear that the Iraqi law governing family relations that is currently on the books, passed in 1959, will be abolished, and that Shariah law will dominate the lives of ordinary Iraqis. "It sounds like the civil law will be canceled," Dr. Kuzai said. "We had the best family law in the Middle East. And we'll go back to the clerics."

Some secular-minded Iraqis believe the constitution is less important than political battles to come. Adnan Pachachi, a former foreign minister, said that if secular Sunni and Shiite leaders bind together with the Kurds, they might, after the next election, constitute a majority of the Assembly. As such, they could successfully block the imposition of an Islamic state.

Reporting for this article was contributed by Kirk Semple and James Glanz from Baghdad, and Elisabeth Bumiller from Boise, Idaho.