Ninevah votes against Constitution…

Ninevah votes “no,” but not by enough.

… but not enough. “No” votes were 55% and “yes” votes were 45%. This doesn’t sound too out of line to me. This means Iraq has a new constitution.
For the constitution to have failed, it needed to be voted down by at least 66% in any three provinces. Anbar and Sulahadin both reached this point, but Nineveh and Diyalah did not.
The real question now will be whether the Sunnis will accept this vote as fair. Saleh Mutlaq of the National Dialogue Council and others have said they defeated the referendum in all four Sunni-majority provinces: Anbar, Diyala, Sulahhadin and Ninevah. But the numbers released by the IECI today don’t show that, obviously. Dialya and Ninevah have significant non-Sunni populations: Shi’ites in Diyala and Kurds, Christians and Turkomans in Nineveh. Anbar and Sulahhadin both rejected the charter by wide margins.
“As I wrote”:, this is the worst-case scenario:

The absolute worst-case scenario is if the Sunnis come close to defeating the constitution, but fail. There will be accusations of vote-rigging and any political momentum the Sunnis felt was moving their way will be spent. The Shi’ites will have consolidated their power and those Sunnis on the fence might be moved into active opposition. The insurgency might even worsen, if such things are possible, or a close vote might be the trigger for open civil war.

Still, it’s not impossible that Sunnis might see the light of reason in this and decide to come out and vote on Dec. 15 for a permanent government. A last-minute deal between the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Shi’ite and Kurdish groups agreed that the permanent constitution would be more temporary than the name implies. The leaders agreed that after the election in December — which will see an increase in the number of Sunnis in parliament — the constitution will be thrown open to amendments. Shi’ite politicians such as Jawad al-Maliki of the Dawa Party said it would be open to only some fine-tuning. The Iraqi Islamic Party said, however, that the whole thing was open for discussion. The truth is all groups were playing to their base in the hopes of turning out the vote, so the actual state of negotiations lies somewhere in between the two extremes. Luckily, there are still negotiations, which is better than nothing, I suppose.
And already, some Sunni politicians are sounding conciliatory notes. Mishaan al-Jubouri, a Sunni legislator from the Liberation and Reconciliation Party, said, “We will participate in the next elections. We will try to make a democratic, secular majority in the parliament and try to change the constitution.”
He groused that the reason Nineveh didn’t pass was that several Kurdish cities — Makhmor, Okhra and Shikhan — were included in the province that, historically, should not have been included. These cities are all Fallujah-sized or smaller, meaning around 250,000 people or so. (“Probably half a million each now,” A., my office manager, grumbled, voicing the suspicion that Kurds had swamped the city with new voters just before the referendum.)
But, al-Jubouri added, “I don’t think that there was manipulation of the votes _after the closing of the ballot boxes_.” Despite my emphasis, this is a good sign, I think. He also said he is already looking ahead to Dec. 15, when Iraqis go to the polls, _again_, and elect a permanent parliament. “We will run in Babylon, Baghdad, Diyalah, Anbar, Sulahadin, Ninevah and Kirkuk,” he said, and added he would like to form a parliamentary coalition with former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s bloc. “I think he will win a majority of seats in the next parliament.”
But this brings up the point of what the political situation in Iraq will look like down the road. Assuming this smoldering civil war doesn’t ignite further, _this is the political situation:_ A constantly shifting set of alliances with Sunnis generally coming out with the short end of the stick. Stratfor (subscription only, sorry) notes that this means that politics and the trappings of state will fade into the background. “The rest of society — clans, families, corporations, organized crime — are emphasized,” the think tank reports. “An Iraq with eternally shifting politics is not incompatible with the notion of a functioning society.”
Maybe. But a nation with those institutions empowered instead of the state sure sounds different from what the United States has publicly stated is the desired end result: a democratic, united, federal and pluralistic state. In fact, with the exception of corporations, it sounds a lot like Iraq today.
PS: Here’s a table of the final percentages. “Click here”: for a PDF of all the results.

Results Breakdown by Governorates
Governorate Yes % No %
Anbar 3.04% 96.96%
Babil 94.56% 5.44%
Baghdad 77.70% 22.30%
Basrah 96.02% 3.98%
Dhouk 99.13% 0.87%
Diyala 51.27% 48.73%
Erbil 99.36% 0.64%
Karbala 96.58% 3.42%
Kirkuk 62.91% 37.09%
Misan 97.79% 2.21%
Muthana 98.65% 1.35%
Najaf 95.82% 4.18%
Ninewa 44.92% 55.08%
Qadissiya 96.74% 3.26%
Salahaddeen 18.25% 81.75%
Sulaymania 98.96% 1.04%
Theqar 97.15% 2.85%
Wasit 95.70% 4.30%
Total: 78.59% 21.41%

A Thousand Deaths

The more I think about this place and yesterday’s attack on the Palestine/Sheraton compound, the more I feel that it’s time to leave here — and that I’m a coward for thinking that.

BAGHDAD — No, the title doesn’t refer to a body count. It’s what I’m feeling in my soul. The more I think about this place and yesterday’s attack on the Palestine/Sheraton compound, the more I feel that it’s time to leave here — and that I’m a coward for thinking that.
I don’t want to desert this story. I don’t want to let my friends down. I don’t want to leave my staff, who have bravely stuck by us and who _can’t leave_ like I can. But I also don’t want to die for this story. I’m torn in half over this. I have a macho, “tough it out” mentality about this place while also wondering, “Have I worried my family and friends enough on this?”
I don’t know for sure if yesterday’s attack was aimed specifically at journalists, but if that cement truck had gotten 20-30 feet further in, it might have been powerful enough to bring down a good part of the Palestine Hotel. For sure, westerners were the targets, and whether journalists were just lumped in for good measure is cold comfort.
Just now, about five minutes ago, there has been another huge boom that rolled over the house. We’re not sure where it is, but we’ll know soon. We always do.
I don’t think it’s as big as yesterday’s cement-truck bomb, which was so large that I didn’t even register the sound of the explosion. It was almost a sub-sonic rumble, and then my windows rattled. Everyone here in the house thought it was the wind.
So I don’t know what I’m going to do, but decamping to someplace less hostile is looking more and more necessary. And that just _kills_ me.