Sunnis Drafting Constitution Gunned Down In Iraq
By Kathleen Ridolfo
Three Sunni men connected to the Iraqi National Assembly's constitutional drafting committee were gunned down outside a Baghdad restaurant today, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reported.
Gunmen shot and killed Mijbal al-Sheikh Issa, Thamir Husayn al-Ubaydi, and Aziz Ibrahim Ilaywi as they left a restaurant in the Karrada district of the capital.
Issa appears to have joined the committee as part of the 15 Sunni Arabs added to the 71-member committee last month. He was the secretary-general of the Movement for Decision Making [Harakat al-Qarar] and a member of the National Dialogue Council. Al-Ubaydi was a member of a subcommittee of Sunnis advising the drafting committee. Ilaywi, who is reportedly the nephew of Issa, was an informal adviser to the drafting committee.
While no group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack, it is likely that terrorists affiliated with Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi will claim responsibility. Al-Zarqawi's Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad fi Bilad Al-Rafidayn has threatened to kill anyone who associates with the transitional Iraqi government.
Al-Zarqawi has threatened Sunni resistance leaders in Internet statements for entering into talks with the U.S. military on laying down arms and joining the Iraqi political process. He has also leveled threats at Sunni-populated Arab states for forging relations with the Iraqi government. His group has claimed responsibility in recent weeks for an attack on the Bahraini ambassador and the kidnapping and killing of the Egyptian ambassador-designate.
Commenting on the attack, National Assembly speaker Hajim al-Hasani told reporters during a press conference with UN special representative Ashraf Qazi in Baghdad: "This act is unacceptable and we strongly denounce it. Whoever commits such acts, is indeed willing to divide the Iraqi people and to incite a sectarian strife in Iraq. We will neither allow nor accept such practices. That is why a call is addressed to the Iraqi people to unite and consolidate, to stand firmly and know that there are enemies of this people."
Al-Hasani said that terrorists are seeking to divide Iraq and sow divisions among the country's various ethnic groups. "When we speak about dividing this country, it is not meant dividing its territory but dividing the people of this country, dividing the people of this Iraq. This does not serve the interest of anybody but of the enemies of Iraq. That is why we strongly denounce and condemn such acts and we express our condolences to the Iraqi people for this immense tragedy," RFI quoted him as saying.
Issa spoke with Radio Free Iraq in Baghdad on 18 July, discussing his vision of a future Sunni constituency. Asked to comment on an informal debate within the National Assembly over the pros and cons of elections under a single voting district, as happened in January, he said: "Not only for the representatives of Sunnis but for the whole Iraqi people, the system of more voting districts is better because the practice of one district [as in the 30 January elections] has been new for Iraqis. I think that falsifications may affect one single list [of voters] more than it would affect a system of multiple voting districts, where more control can be imposed on the problem. We live in this country where many cases of falsifications [occur] and also changes happen in reality and in law. That is why I think the system of multiple voting districts represents all Iraqis. The system of one district is not appropriate for Iraqis. It has no equivalent anywhere across the Middle East."
Regarding governorates, he told Radio Free Iraq: "I wish the system of multiple voting districts to be widely introduced so that every governorate, not only Baghdad, becomes two constituencies. The reason is that some kind of demographic or social change has happened between various population groups. For instance, in Kirkuk, there are our Sunni Arabs, Turkomans, Kurds, and Christians. It is possible that all of them enter a different district, or it is possible that we give a certain amount of freedom to the citizen so that he or she knows whom to choose in the elections. It is true we are in the framework of a newly established system but the open system [of a single district] would lead to more problems for which we have no mechanisms [to solve]. In any case, I believe that the system of one district has failed and that religious and racist attitudes become apparent in the system of one district while they would not appear in the system of multiple districts."
Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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