August 17, 2005



From FoxNews: Bush Administration Watches Iraq Closely.

The Bush administration is staying in close contact with Iraqis as they seek to wrap up writing a draft constitution, and are putting on a brave face through difficult challenges.

On Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Defense Department officials are confident that the remaining issues that delayed the completion of the constitution will still be resolved, saying all parties are still at the table. He characterized the process as one of compromise, cooperation and significant progress and said a one-week extension does not seem unreasonable. ...

Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish framers of the charter had reached a tentative deal late Monday, resolving issues ranging from oil revenues to the country's name but putting off decisions on the most contentious questions including federalism, women's rights, the role of Islam, and possible Kurdish autonomy.

The Shiites are demanding that Islam be the main source of legislation. That could affect the civil code because in Islamic law, or sharia, women might not receive the same share of inheritance and cannot initiate divorce.

Those demands are of concern to U.S. officials, who say they have made it clear that they expect women's rights to be protected in the constitution.

UPDATE -- Aug. 20: From Reuters: U.S. concedes ground to Islamists on Iraqi law (via Little Green Footballs).

U.S. diplomats have conceded ground to Islamists on the role of religion in Iraq, negotiators said on Saturday as they raced to meet a 48-hour deadline to draft a constitution under intense U.S. pressure.

U.S. diplomats, who have insisted the constitution must enshrine ideals of equal rights and democracy, declined comment.

Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish negotiators all said there was accord on a bigger role for Islamic law than Iraq had before.

But a secular Kurdish politician said Kurds opposed making Islam "the," not "a," main source of law -- changing current wording -- and subjecting all legislation to a religious test.

"We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi'ites," he said. "It's shocking. It doesn't fit American values. They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state ... I can't believe that's what the Americans really want or what the American people want." [Emphasis added]

Posted by Forkum at August 17, 2005 08:27 PM