October 17, 2005

MSNBC - Analysts agree Iraqi vote could be key to future


Analysts agree Iraqi vote could be key to future Coughlin and Francona say approval, high turnout could quell insurgency

Although it is not yet official, after this weekend's voting, it appears Iraq has adopted a new constitution.

For millions of Iraqis, it is a cause for celebration -- a victory for the political process and defeat of the insurgents. But for Sunnis, who came out in huge numbers -- many to vote against the document -- it is a stark reminder of where they stand during the post-Saddam era.

On Monday, MSNBC Analysts Con Coughlin and Rick Francona joined anchor Randy Meier to discuss the impact of the expected approval of the constitution and what may be next for the country.

Coughlin, an editor at the London Daily Telegraph and author of 'Saddam, His Rise and Fall,' told Meier that after this weekend's constitutional approval a successful election at the end of the year could spell doom for the insurgency.

"I think the next key thing really -- and it's not that far away -- is the elections in December. If the Iraqis elect a government based on the new constitution that has an international recognition and legitimacy, then there's actually no point in having an insurgency. Basically, it is people fighting their own government," Coughlin said.

"I think already, we're seeing some Sunni's drafting away from the ideological resistance and any change in how Iraq is governed," he added. "I think we will see that drift increase the longer this process continues."

Francona, a retired Air Force colonel and former officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency, noted that although the Sunnis did not support the constitution, their participation was very important, and encouraging for the fledgling democracy's future.

"I think that by all of the Sunni's that did turn out, it legitimizes the process and underscores that the Iraqis are interested in developing some sort of legitimate government on their own," he said.

"As for the document itself, there is still a lot of Sunni resistance to the provisions in there. If you look at the way the vote went in some provinces -- in the Anbar province 97 percent against -- there are a lot of problems with the document, but most of the Sunnis realize now that they have to be a part of the political process," he added.

Francona noted that although many Iraqis admitted that they didn't fully understand the document and were voting after getting direction from their Imams and tribal leaders, the vote was an encouraging start.

"This country has a long history of not making decisions -- being told what to do. It was created in the aftermath of World War I and really enjoyed no freedom at all. So the concept of people making their own decision and voting that way is very new to them," he said.

To watch the entire interview with Rick Francona, go to:

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