IRAQ UPDATE….The fact that Iraqi leaders are having trouble meeting their deadline to finish a draft constitution isn’t surprising. In the past, they’ve missed pretty much every deadline they’ve had, but then eventually come to some sort of agreement a few days late. However, if the New York Times is correct, it looks like they might be genuinely deadlocked this time:

The negotiations were stalled on a number of issues, including the role of Islam in the state, the rights of women and the distribution of power between central and regional governments. Issues that had seemed to have been settled, like the sharing of oil revenues, came unraveled.

….The principal unresolved issue is whether to grant to the country’s Shiite majority an autonomous region in the south. Shiite leaders are demanding that nine provinces in southern Iraq ? half of the provinces in the country ? be allowed to form a largely self-governing region akin to the Kurdish autonomous region in the north.

The leaders of Iraq’s Sunni population staunchly oppose the Shiite demands, contending that if the Shiites and the Kurds were both granted wide powers of self-rule, there would be little left of the Iraqi state. The issue of Shiite autonomy is especially significant because the richest oil fields are situated in the extreme south of the country.

There are some things that can be fudged and some things that can’t. Autonomy is probably one of the issues that can’t.

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