A leading group of Iraqi Sunni clerics said on Wednesday any government emerging from Iraq’s landmark election would lack legitimacy because many people had boycotted the poll.
“These elections lack legitimacy because a large segment of different sects, parties and currents with their influence in Iraq boycotted,” the Muslim Clerics’ Association said.
“This necessarily means the coming national assembly and government that will emerge from it will not possess the legitimacy to enable them to draft the coming constitution or sign any security or economic agreements.”
The Muslim Clerics Association, which urged Iraqis to boycott the poll because of US-led attacks on Sunni cities, warned the United Nations that it would open a Pandora’s box if it gave the election its seal of approval.
“We warn the United Nations and the international community of the danger of granting these elections legitimacy because this will open a door of evil and they will be the first to bear responsibility,” it said.
Some of Iraq’s top Shiite clerics, emboldened by a huge Shiite turnout for their coalition of religious parties in Iraq’s elections, have begun advocating an Islamic constitution.
The clerics of Najaf who orchestrated the Shiite coalition say they expect a constitutional debate between hard-line Islamists, who want Quranic law to be the constitution’s primary source, and moderate Muslims who want a milder form of religious law. This debate, they say, will dwarf any challenge from secular parties.
The Pentagon says about 130,000 Iraqis – from soldiers and police to border enforcement troops and sailors – are “on hand and trained,” up from 126,961 two weeks ago. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, puts the number of adequately trained Iraqi forces at 14,000; Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, suggests it is closer to 40,000.
Anthony H. Cordesman, a respected defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has traveled to Iraq, told a Senate committee yesterday that there were between 7,000 and 11,000 Iraqi forces who are “beginning” to have the necessary training and equipment.
Cordesman, in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: “We need to stop lying to the Iraqis, the American people and the world about our efforts to create Iraqi forces.
“We do not have 127,000 useful or meaningful men in these forces of the kind needed to fight an aggressive, experienced and well-armed threat.”
Cordesman said “everything we do in Iraq will fail” unless the United States can increase its training efforts and provide Iraqis with the necessary equipment and facilities. There is “no more devastating critique” of the ongoing failures in U.S. policy than “the lack of such a plan in public form,” he said.
A soldier who was blinded by shrapnel while serving in Iraq allegedly punched one police officer and injured another officer’s eye in an altercation outside a bar, officials said.
Sam Ross Jr., 22, of Dunbar, was charged with aggravated assault, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness for scuffling with a woman, two men and two police officers early Saturday outside Uniontown’s Highland House bar and restaurant.
Ross was a combat engineer with the 82nd Airborne Division when he was wounded on May 18, 2003, while disposing of munitions near Baghdad. On his way to a disposal pit, he was cradling a mine in a sand-filled shovel when it exploded.
The accident left him with no sight and a prosthetic leg that starts 6 inches below his left knee.