Morning Report: September 25, 2005

ITM: Constitution and elections. Omar at Iraq the Model discusses the gap between the delegates and their electorates in Iraq: 'What is noticeable now is that no clear majority can be said to be on either side and although the draft was written and agreed upon by the largest two blocs in the National Assembly, followers and supporters of these blocs do not seem equally willing to vote with 'yes'. And while no opposition to the constitution is coming from the Kurdish people, the division is more pronounced in the Sheat population as there's a sizeable percentage that opposed the federal state. The Sunni politicians and parties also are pushing towards rejecting the constitution. However these politicians and parties are not representative of the Sunni Arabs and what they say may not reflect what the people want but in general it seems that more Sunnis are going to vote with 'no' on the October referendum. The above distribution is supposed to cover roughly 90% of the population but in fact it does not as there are the secular trends, the communists and many independent people who do not follow this party or that faction. The secular trends themselves have different opinions; some believe that the constitution is a step back to the dark ages and allows religion to take a bigger role than it should, thus these seculars want to vote the constitution down ... The other secular trend has another point of view; they see ratifying the constitution as a step forward as to the democratic process in general, so they seem more inclined to support the constitution as a first step but only to amend it later. ... There are also other religious and ethnic minorities who don't seem happy with what's been stated in the draft and they think their rights will be severely eroded under this constitution. Here we have mainly the Christians, Turkmen and the Shabak (who complained about their ethnic rights being ignored). The Turkmen's opposition to the constitution comes from their age-old conflict over Kirkuk which is home town for people from both groups; still there are some Turkmen who sided with the Kurds and even others who sided with the Sheat alliance following their sectarian background. ... So all I can say now is that the results of the referendum can not be accurately predicted at the moment and the outcome will depend to a great extent on the geographic distribution of votes throughout the country.' Post continues with an analysis of the upcoming elections, in which the numerous small parties - including the Fadhils' IPDP (Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party) - are coalescing into larger ones. (ITM)

IAEA finds IRI non-compliant. And the Iran regime isn't happy about it. CNN reports: 'Iran has rejected as "political" and "unjust" a resolution passed by the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency calling for the country to be reported to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program, state-run television reported. ... The resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors accuses Iran of failing to comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But it does not specify when Iran would be referred to the Security Council. The board will have to vote a second time to determine that. The resolution, drafted by Britain, France and Germany and backed by the United States, passed with 22 votes in favor, 12 abstentions and one vote against by Venezuela.' Full article at the link. (CNN)

Taheri: IRI walking into a trap. Via Regime Change Iran, Amir Taheri at Arab News writes: 'Ahmadinejad’s speeches and interviews represented an improvement over his predecessor Muhammad Khatami, a mulla, who amused UN audiences by trying to show off his knowledge of Hobbes and Hegel. Unlike Khatami, Ahmadinejad did not pretend to be what he is not, that is to say a liberal democrat. Instead, he spoke as a radical Islamist revolutionary representing a radical Islamist revolutionary regime. ... Before Ahmadinejad arrived in New York many in the UN saw Iran as a poor developing nation being bullied by big powers on spurious grounds. Ahmadinejad replaced that image with one of a cocky midsized power trying to punch above its weight regardless of the consequences.' Full article at link. (Amir Taheri at Arab News, via RCI)

CTB: Daylight at last? The Counterterrorism Blog sees 'growing indications that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his Al-Qaida acolytes may be facing the most serious political and operational challenges they have encountered since they first joined the anti-coalition insurgency in mid-2003. The deadly glut of suicide bombings that began on September 8 has undoubtedly caused destruction and chaos--but militants were neither able to undermine the anti-insurgent operation in Tel Afar nor deter Iraqi government efforts to formulate a constitution.' The CTB cites a stinging rejection by the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) as a major setback for the terrorists of al-Qaeda. (CTB)

Britain's quiet war in southern Iraq. An article at the Sunday Times via Iran Focus sheds light on Britain's Special Air Service (SAS) and its "secret war" against the Iranian regime in Basra and southern Iraq. 'TWO SAS soldiers rescued last week after being arrested by Iraqi police and handed over to a militia were engaged in a “secret war” against insurgents bringing sophisticated bombs into the country from Iran. The men had left their base near the southern Iraqi city of Basra to carry out reconnaissance and supply a second patrol with “more tools and fire power”, said a source with knowledge of their activities. They had been in Basra for seven weeks on an operation prompted by intelligence that a new type of roadside bomb which has been used against British troops was among weapons being smuggled over the Iranian border. The bombs, designed to pierce the armour beneath coalition vehicles, are similar to ones supplied by Iran to Hezbollah, the Islamic militant group. “Since the increase in attacks against UK forces two months ago, a 24-strong SAS team has been working out of Basra to provide a safety net to stop the bombers getting into the city from Iran,” said one source. “The aim is to identify routes used by insurgents and either capture or kill them.” The forces have tried to seal the notoriously porous border using high-technology sensors that monitor movement by night. They report to a major based in Baghdad in an unmarked building known as the “station house”. ...' Meanwhile, The Belmont Club reports on some second thoughts in London: 'British Tory Michael Portillo has begun to express doubts about the British 'softly-softly' approach in Iraq in the London Times. ... Those who been closely following events in Iraq will immediately remember April 2004 in the US sector, when the hands-off approach and the reliance on poorly trained Iraq civil defense forces were shown to be inadequate by the simultaneous uprisings among the Sunnis and the Shi'a. As Yogi Berra said, "it's deja vu all over again". So it is no surprise that the British are reacting in much the same way as the US did in April 2004. In some respects, the British will be starting a year and half behind the United States. 'Softly, softly' as the history of the last days of the Clinton administration and recent events in Gaza show, often means 'ouchly, ouchly' in the end. But several things will make the British recovery easier. The first is establishment of the Iraqi government and the creation of its major combat units. Secondly, the British have probably built up intelligence on the opfor, which is something they do as a pastime whenever they are not otherwise occupied. Thirdly, they don't have to fight a two-front war since the US has taken charge of the Sunni front. Lastly, the US has made the major investments in robotics, electronic warfare and supporting fires that will provide the British Army with whatever precision firepower it needs to get out of a jam. GIs rarely shoot from the hip, whatever Portillo believes, and have invested billions investing in technologies that are wholly the opposite of this cinematic approach.' (Iran Focus, Belmont Club)

Answering ANSWER. Judith at Kesher Talk has some links to the pro-Iraq demonstrations, and Baldilocka observes leftists in their natural habitat. (Kesher Talk, Baldilocks)