There was rejoicing in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf as news of an agreement on Iraq’s troubled constitution broke. But the celebrations were a little premature.Though the draft charter was presented to parliament just a few minutes before the midnight deadline, the vote to approve the text has been put off for three days. There had been earlier signs that the Shi’ite and Kurdish dominiated Assembly would force the constitution through. But the postponement appears to be an effort to cool tempers after the Sunni minority raised fierce opposition to it, in particular, to the question of autonomy for federal regions. The Sunnis are concerned that allowing for federalism may see the creation of an autonomous Shi’ite area in the South and a Kurdish territory in the North. That could cost the Sunnis dearly in terms of oil revenues. Islam had also been a sticking point. But in what appears to be a compromise between Islamist Shi’ites and secular Kurds the draft designates Islam a main, but seemingly not exclusive, source of law. If the draft document is approved it will be put to a referendum in October. But Sunnis warn that if their grievances are not taking into account, the charter will ultimately only breed more conflict in a nation already racked by violence.
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