EDITORIAL: Passing of Iraqi charter likely

Reminiscent to images in January, citizens in Iraq over the weekend turned out to the polls in significant numbers to vote on the Iraqi government’s new charter. With polls indicating that U.S. public support for the war is waning, this is nothing but good news for Americans. The faster Iraq can build a stable government, the faster the U.S. troops can withdraw.

Official results have not been released, but preliminary reports by The Associated Press indicate the charter was approved. Building up to the election, foreign policy analysts feared that the Sunnis, a minority yet vital religious group in Iraq, would reject the charter.

Several Sunni leaders, when the charter was completed in late summer, opposed provisions in the charter granting autonomy to Shiite provinces that hold vast deposits of oil, in addition to coming up with a consensual interpretation of Islamic law.

Iraq’s unstable foundations are marred with sectarian tension, and Saddam Hussein, while in power, was only able to suppress it. Any part in the charter that seems favorable toward any of Iraq’s major groups (Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds) could create a rift in the country’s government. The Shiites and Kurds, however, despite the Sunnis’ initial reluctance to get involved in the reformation of the Iraqi government, have been doing a good job at bringing the Sunnis on board.

To reject the charter, three of any of Iraq’s 18 provinces has to get a two-thirds majority to vote no. The Associated Press indicates that the Anbar and Salahuddin provinces, both heavily Sunni, have rejected the charter. That leaves the fate of Iraq’s charter in the hands of the other two heavily Sunni-populated regions, Ninevah and Diyala. However, Iraqi electoral officials have stated that both Ninevah and Diyala have voted “yes” on the charter by as high as 70 percent.

The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, the organization overseeing the ballot counting, is investigating voting fraud, but several Kurd and Shiite provinces have approved the charter by has high as 90 percent, with some regions as high as 97 and 98 percent.

But the most important issue that will lead to withdrawal of U.S. troops is being able to control the insurgency. Violence and U.S. casualties in Iraq is at a low, including attacks during this past weekend’s elections. Celebrating now might be premature, but the passing of Iraq’s charter is definitely a big step toward restructuring Iraq and bringing our troops home.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.