U.S. President George Bush praised the draft Iraqi constitution as milestone in the transition to democracy and the battle against insurgents. The charter was presented at the National Assembly, where it was honoured. Sunnis largely boycotted the ceremony.
The United States had hoped the document would knit together Iraq's three main communities — Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds — pointing a way toward an end to the bloody Sunni-led insurgency and U.S. withdrawal.
Several administration officials acknowledged deep regret and frustration that all their efforts had failed to produce a document that could not only establish human rights but also bring a huge disaffected element into the political process, as the Americans had hoped and predicted.
Instead, the constitution presented to the Iraqi parliament does more to split them, and the country, apart.
As Pravda.ru noted before, Sunnis denounced the document in apocalyptic terms. Only three of the fifteen Sunni members of the drafting committee even showed up for the final meeting. Not our constitution was their message, the USA Today reports.
Analysts said the Bush administration miscalculated the strength of the Shiite demand for a nine-province super-state in the south, with autonomous powers. The focus of American policymakers had been to persuade the Kurds not to demand an autonomous region in the north.
The Americans were caught short when Shiites dropped their opposition to autonomy for the Kurds and instead joined them in asking for a decentralized Iraq, New York Times says.
In the last few weeks, the Bush administration shed its previously studied detachment from Iraqi internal politics, encouraging the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, to shuttle among parties to broker a deal.
Over the last few days, American officials say, Khalilzad succeeded in addressing some Sunni concerns. But his failure could pave the way for more trouble because Sunni hopes were raised and then dashed.
"Khalilzad tried very hard, especially in the last 48 hours, but he did not succeed," said a diplomat who had been in touch with various Iraqis this week. "Now that there is no deal, the situation can worsen very quickly. Now you could have Sunnis mobilizing in a big way to defeat the draft. Whether they succeed or not, you could have the whole thing falling apart."