Click here to read excerpts from Ayatollah Almodarresi's comments as reported by the western media

"What President Bush termed a "historic milestone in the Iraqi people's long journey from tyranny and violence to liberty and peace," Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Taqi al-Modaresi condemned as "a time bomb," which if implemented, would "spark a civil war."

The Globe and Mail, Canada


  Ayatollah Almodarresi's views on the interim constitution of Iraq.


Shi'ites Warn New Iraq Law Will Lead to Problems
Tue Mar 9, 2004 10:29 AM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Shi'ite leaders warned on Tuesday that Iraq's new constitution could cause problems in the long term, with one senior cleric saying a clause on federalism had the potential to provoke civil war.

The U.S. appointed Governing Council signed the transitional law Monday after long negotiations and two postponements, in a ceremony hailed by Washington as a diplomatic victory and an important step toward a democratic and sovereign government.

But almost immediately after signing, several Shi'ite leaders said they were still unhappy with the law -- especially a clause they fear could give minority Kurds too much leverage -- and would seek to introduce changes further down the line.

The criticism continued Tuesday. One of Iraq's foremost Shi'ite clerics, Ayatollah Mohammed Taqi al-Muddaresi, accused the U.S.-led coalition of willfully including the clause which majority Shi'ites see as a threat to their numeric dominance.

"The clause in the transitional law relating to federalism is tantamount to a time bomb which could cause a civil war in Iraq," he said in a statement.

Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose objections to the constitution delayed its signing by three days, refused to endorse the law Monday, saying it was an obstacle to agreeing a permanent constitution next year.

Shi'ite politicians said they would respect the document they had signed, which they described as a major achievement, but stressed they would find ways in the future to undo the elements they were still unhappy with.

"We see grave flaws in this law and more must be done to deal with them in future," Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a council member and head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a top Shi'ite party, said Tuesday.

"The law is a major achievement, and we don't want the political process to stop... We will work to deal with the problems."

The main clause Shi'ites object to is one they fear will enable Kurds to veto a permanent constitution to be written next year if it does not enshrine their demands for autonomy.

A spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress said the party welcomed the law, but that if Shi'ite concerns were not resolved, the transition to democracy could reach a dead end.


Link to original story:

Arabic version:
المدرسي لرويترز- الدستور قنبلة موقوته ممكن أن تسبب حرباً أهلية في العراق




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