CIVIL WAR WATCH….October 2005:

Four days before Iraqis are to vote on their country’s proposed constitution, Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish power brokers reached a breakthrough late Tuesday that revived hopes of winning Sunni support for the charter and defusing the Sunni-led insurgency by political means, Iraqi political leaders said.

….The major concession from Tuesday’s talks was agreement by the Shiites and Kurds that a committee be created early next year to consider amendments to the constitution….

January 2006:

Abdul Aziz Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the most powerful Shiite party in the ruling coalition, appeared to back away from the constitutional compromise Wednesday.

“The first principle is not to change the essence of the constitution,” Hakim said in a speech given during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, according to the Associated Press. “It is our responsibility to form Baghdad provinces and southern Iraq provinces.”

A spokesman for Hakim’s party confirmed the remarks. “The major points in the constitution were agreed to by all the parties that participated in the drafting of the constitution,” Haitham Husseini, the spokesman, said in an interview. “As for changes in the powers, some points or details, these are open to negotiation. However, the main principles which were agreed to by all sides, and approved by the people in a popular referendum, they cannot be touched.”

That deal back in October never struck me as much more than window dressing, and in any case Hakim never really agreed to it anyway; he just smiled, said it was a great day for Iraq, and told his followers that if they voted Yes on the constitution everything would be fine. And from his perspective, I suppose that’s true. However, from the perspective of anyone who would prefer not to see southern Iraq turn into a de facto client state of Iran, probably not so fine.

Stay tuned. The pot is starting to boil.

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