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[Marxism] Occupation constitution sparks threaat of Sunni-based popular uprising

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Subject: [Marxism] Occupation constitution sparks threaat of Sunni-based popular uprising
From: "Fred Feldman" <ffeldman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 11:51:15 -0400
Delivery-date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 09:51:59 -0600
Importance: Normal
>From Juan Cole's Informed Comment:

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

23 Dead in Violence
Sunni Arabs Threaten Popular Uprising over Constitution

Al-Hayat: Guerrilla violence left 23 Iraqis dead on Tuesday, among them
16 policemen. In addition. guerrillas bombed an American-Iraqi
[military] Coordination Center in the northeastern city of Baqubah,
leaving 2 Americans dead and as many as 9 other persons wounded. Reuters
has some details (some of the casualty figures are too small because
this report was filed earlier on Tuesday).

Bush's statement, "This talk about Sunnis rising up, I mean the Sunnis
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?" was interpreted as a "veiled
threat" by Al-Hayat. [This is my gloss, but they seem to be implying
that Bush was attempting to cow the Sunni Arabs into accepting the
constitution by menacing them with more Fallujahs.]

Al-Hayat: President Jalal Talabani began a last push to convince the
Sunni Arabs, the Sadr Movement, and the Iraqi National Accord (led by
former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi] to accept the new
constitution. The government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said it
was unlikely that substantial alterations would now be made to the
draft.

This, despite the threats of those who oppose it to mount a "popular
uprising" (Intifada) and to "set the streets afire." Sunni Arab
politician Salih al-Mutlak predicted that the falsity of the consitution
would be demonstrated in the October 15 referendum, which he said it
would fail.

Muqtada al-Sadr organized crowds to protest the constitution in several
Shiite cities. (Crowds in Najaf have come out in favor of the
constitution). Muqtada warned that if it looked as though the country
were heading toward a break-up, he could not sit idly by, but would have
to take action.

I am told that the situation in Latifiyah, a battleground between Sunnis
and Shiites, continues to deteriorate.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal warned with regard to disputes
over the Iraqi constitution, that sectarian positions "will not lead to
anything but the partition of Iraq along sectarian lines." He called on
Iraqi leaders to "let national interests supercede sectarian interests."
The Saudis are very caution and seldom speak out on such matters,
preferring to work quietly and behind the scenes. So when the Saudi
foreign minister speaks publicly in these terms, it means that the royal
family is terrified that there really will be a civil war in Iraq. As I
have tiresomely pointed out, such a war almost certainly would pull the
Saudis into it, with catastrophic consequences for us all. Roger Hardy
of the BBC points out,"There is no tradition in the Arab world of a
successful decentralised state. The fear is that a weak multi-ethnic,
multi-confessional state will go the way of Lebanon in the 1970s and
1980s - and descend into civil war."

By the way, Saud al-Faisal correctly points out that a key element in
the current high price of petroleum is lack of refining capacity. Since
the oil majors are not willing to build a new refinery, why not resolve
the problem ourselves. Can't California do one of those fancy referendum
items instructing the state to build a refinery? They could insist that
its products meet California pollution standards. A refinery would cost
$5 billion, but it might or might not be profitable in the medium term
(petroleum prices could dip once it was completed), which is why the
corporations are not building one. It is highly irresponsible, and
hurting the world economy.


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