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June 21, 2005

Even Kofi Sees Progress In Iraq

The Quotable Annan...

Elections were held in January, on schedule. Three months later the Transitional National Assembly endorsed the transitional government. The dominant parties have begun inclusive negotiations, in which outreach to Sunni Arabs is a major theme. A large number of Sunni groups and parties are now working to make sure that their voices are fully heard in the process of drafting a new constitution, and that they participate fully in the referendum to approve it and the elections slated for December.

Indeed, just last week an agreement was achieved to expand the committee drafting the constitution to ensure full participation by the Sunni Arab community. This agreement, which the United Nations helped to facilitate, should encourage all Iraqis to press ahead with the drafting of the constitution by the Aug. 15 deadline.

As the process moves forward, there will no doubt be frustrating delays and difficult setbacks. But let us not lose sight of the fact that all over Iraq today, Iraqis are debating nearly every aspect of their political future.

In a media-hungry age, visibility is often regarded as proof of success. But this does not necessarily hold true in Iraq. Even when, as with last week's agreement, the results of our efforts are easily seen by all, the efforts themselves must be undertaken quietly and away from the cameras.

Whether U.N. assistance proves effective will depend largely on the Iraqis. Only they can write a constitution that is inclusive and fair. The United Nations cannot and will not draft it for them. Nor do we need to, because Iraqis are more than capable of doing it themselves. They would welcome advice, but they will decide which advice is worth taking.

The Quotable Omar:

Humam Hammodi, Chairman of the constitution drafting committee told Al-Sabah that the branch teams of the committee have succeeded so far in completing 80% of the constitution's draft. Hammodi added that his colleagues at the committee branch-teams are willing to fulfill the task by the previously set deadline of August 15th 2005.

"The final draft will come out with an Iraqi spirit and there are actually little differences to debate" said Hammodi.

As a matter of fact, I'm not the least surprised by this bit of news because I was expecting this process to move smoother than the previous chapters of the democratic change in Iraq, yet I'm a little bit amazed at the rapid progress being made despite all the current difficulties that make any progress incomprehensible for many people outside Iraq and don't blame them for thinking that way because it's unfair to expect them to believe that work can be done this fast in a country living in such rough conditions.

I remember that many Sunni (as well as dome She'at) politicians considered that law as an American plan to give the Kurds more rights than they deserve but lately I began to see the same people resort to the same law and use some of its clauses to defend their view points! This might sound weird but actually it's good because it shows that people who chose to join the political process are beginning to use reason instead of their emotions and worn-out conspiracy theories.

Bottom line, the people won the war when they said their word on the 30th of January and since then, many of the hesitant elements recognized the winning side and began joining it while the barking dogs will have nothing left to chew on but their bitter defeat.

Right. And these people aren't ready for democracy? Pfffft. Meanwhile, the Marines are training a few good men:

For two nights in a row, shadowy gunmen took a few potshots at the Iraqi soldiers that 1st Lt. Khalid Abdul Rahman Muhamad sent on patrol through Fallujah's Jolan district. That's hardly an uncommon occurrence, and typically, Muhamad would just report the incidents to U.S. marines tasked with securing the northwest section of this restive city. But this time, for the first time, Muhamad turned to Marine Corps Maj. Larry Huggins and offered his own plan to rout out the insurgents with a nighttime raid.
That may not seem like much of a development, but even such a nascent show of initiative is taken as evidence of progress. It is just what the U.S. military is hoping to encourage through a nationwide experiment that is putting small deployments of American troops alongside their Iraqi counterparts to provide around-the-clock training, support, and encouragement. In fortified outposts here, for the past four months, Huggins and his team of advisers have lived and worked with the jundi , Arabic for soldiers, of the 2nd Brigade of the Iraqi Intervention Force, a division of the Iraqi Army. The concept is that having marines constantly work with Iraqis will build up strong Iraqi forces faster than can be done through the conventional combination of classroom training, exercises, and occasional joint patrols. And since the Bush administration links U.S. military withdrawal to the readiness of Iraqi defense forces, U.S. soldiers and marines see success in this style of training as America's best hope for a ticket out of Iraq.

Still, no one should underestimate the challenges. While some former Saddam Hussein-era soldiers have joined the force, many Iraqi recruits have no military background. In any event, American officers are trying to create a fresh mind-set along with a functional structure. Under Saddam, for instance, there was no seasoned corps of noncommissioned officers, the senior enlisted soldiers who enforce discipline and direct training for lower-ranking soldiers. In the old Army, officers gave orders, unresponsive to feedback from below. The Americans hope to model the new Iraqi Army on the U.S. military, yet that adds to the enormity of the task.

Staff Sgt. Tom McCarty, one of the American advisers, says it is hard for many of the marines to grasp that there is an Iraqi way of doing things. Some Iraqi habits, McCarty says, should be discouraged, even if they cannot be stopped--like slipping away from post to shop at the market. But in some cases, McCarty says, the marines could learn something from the Iraqis. Though marines refuse to allow any civilians to walk past a foot patrol, the Iraqi Intervention Force patrols refuse to stop women or children. "In some ways I think the IIF have the right idea," McCarty says. "You want to interfere with the local populace as little as possible." Proximity has earned the Iraqi troops some measure of respect: "These guys are about the bravest guys around," McCarty says as he walks on patrol with the jundi . "Most guys don't see that because of the ugly-American mentality. Some guys never get beyond the bad Iraqi BO or the fact that these guys eat with their hands. But here, it's me and one other marine; my life depends on them. And I sleep good at night knowing these guys will protect me."

Slow and steady wins the race.

Posted by Cassandra at June 21, 2005 08:18 AM

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Comments

The Q'annan and Q'omar. Do I read those with my right eye and should I type with just my right hand?

Heh.

Good post.

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 21, 2005 09:50 AM

Good post. I agree.

Trying to trackback - rejected for "questionable content". Your trackback system doesn't like my opinion, apparently. Please visit http://markinmexico.blogspot.com/

Thanks

Posted by: Mark in Mexico [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 21, 2005 01:24 PM

Sorry - I had to turn MT Blacklist on - I was getting spammed faster than I could delete it.

It is broken right now and blocks *everything* - it wasn't anything personal :) It hates everyone equally - even me.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 21, 2005 01:31 PM

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