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U.S. Ambassador: Draft Iraqi Constitution Meets Basic Needs

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2005 – The draft constitution signed in Iraq today provides a strong basis for further progress in Iraq and will adapt to remain relevant as the country changes, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq said today.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said that even though not all parties are completely satisfied with the draft, it represents a "synthesis between the universal principles of democracy and human rights, and Iraqi traditions and Islam." He said that, like all constitutions, this is not a one-time document and will be revised as necessary in the future.

"This is a living document, as all constitutions are," he said. "As Iraq evolves and changes, this constitution will also change and adapt to the circumstances."

The draft establishes Islam as the official religion of Iraq, but also says that no law can be made that is against the practices of democracy or in violation of human rights, Khalilzad said. He said the draft recognizes equality of men and women, disallows discrimination and family violence, and encourages women's participation in politics.

This draft is a reconciliation between the various factions in Iraq, Khalilzad said, and sets a new pattern for the Middle East.

Khalilzad also talked about Iraqi security forces, saying that many are not ready to operate independently of U.S. forces, but that they are participating in combat and making steps in the right direction. The ultimate goal is for Iraqis to provide their own security, he said, but there are many factors to consider in this process.

"It's not only a question of numbers; it's not only a question of the quality of the force, but also, these forces have to be trusted by our Iraqi communities," he said. "Building institutions such as army and police and a judicial system -- these are not easy things to do."

Khalilzad said he expects a rise in insurgent attacks as the constitutional referendum approaches, with extra pressure being placed on minority Sunnis.

"The Sunnis are facing intimidation and worse," he said. "But it's time for them, for the interest of their people, to join the political process."

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Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad

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