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Insurgent Violence Leaves 9 Dead in Iraq | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP – Roadside bombs and ambushes killed at least nine people and wounded 11 others Saturday, as Iraqi leaders reported tentative agreements on issues such as distribution of oil wealth and Islam as the state religion with only two days to go to finalize the new constitution.

But no agreement had been reached on the major stumbling block — federalism — as well as the role of the Shiite clergy, dual nationality and a description of Saddam Hussein”s Baath party, a Sunni Arab official said.

Wide differences remain on those issues among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Sunni Arabs consider federalism, which they fear will lead to the disintegration of the country, as a dealbreaker.

Four civilians died when a roadside bomb exploded near Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, police Capt. Laith Mohammed said. Two Iraqi police were also shot to death in Samarra, police said.

In Baghdad, police Maj. Ahmed Kamil was killed in an ambush in a western neighborhood, police said.

One Iraqi soldier was shot dead in the Dora district of south Baghdad, police said. An unidentified man was found dead in Baghdad”s Sadr City neighborhood. His hands were cuffed and he had been shot in the head and legs, police said.

Seven people — three of them civilians — were hurt in a blast in eastern Baghdad, and four others were injured in separate bombings and shootings in Dora, police said.

U.S. officials hope the violence will recede in time if Iraqis can put together a fully constitutional, democratic government in which all groups feel they have a stake. Key to that is a new constitution which parliament must approve Monday.

On Saturday, a Sunni Arab member of the drafting committee, Saleh al-Mutlaq, said the groups reached a preliminary agreement three days ago that distribution of oil revenues would be shared by the central and regional governments.

Al-Mutlaq did not elaborate. But a Shiite member, Nadim al-Jaberi, said leaders agreed that regional governments in oil-producing areas would keep five percent of the revenue with the rest sent to the central government for distribution to other areas based on their population.

Negotiations were thrown into a tailspin Thursday when the leader of the biggest Shiite party, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, called for a Shiite autonomous government in central and southern Iraq — including the southern oil fields.

That enraged the Sunni Arab delegates, who had accepted the Kurdish self-ruled area in the north, which has existed since 1991, but who feared that Shiite aspirations confirmed their worst fears of federalism.

Al-Mutlaq said it would take &#34divine intervention&#34 to break the impasse. Following al-Hakim”s call, Sunni clerics Friday urged their followers to register and vote in the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum — but against the charter if it contains federalism.

&#34We, in this country, don”t want federalism because we are a unified nation in this country and we feel that Iraq with all it”s elements is for all&#34 of us, Sheik Mahmoud al-Sumaidaie, of the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, told worshippers at Baghdad”s Umm al-Qura mosque.

Sunni clerics led a Sunni boycott of the Jan. 30 parliamentary election.

The Sunnis appear to be sending a warning that they can bring down the constitution in the Oct. 15 referendum. According to the country”s interim charter, the constitution will be void if it is rejected by two-thirds of voters in three provinces.

Sunnis are a majority in the provinces of Anbar, Salahuddin, Ninevah and Diyala.

With the Shiites and Kurds both supporting federalism, the two groups reached a number of other deals, which must still be sold to the Sunnis if unanimity is to be achieved.

Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish legislator, said late Friday that Shiites and Kurds have agreed that the country be called the Iraqi Federal Republic and that Islam be the religion of the state. Kurds from Kirkuk would receive compensation or be permitted to return to city, Othman said.

Othman said Shiites and Kurds, who hold majority seats in parliament, had offered concessions to each other, but said disagreements with Sunni Arabs had been more difficult to resolve.

Other major issues remained unresolved, such as the role of Islam in state laws and how the government should distribute the country”s wealth. Shiites also want a special status for their clerical hierarchy in Najaf. There are also differences on whether to declare Saddam”s Baath party a &#34fascist&#34 institution.