Washington, DC – Today, Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin wrote to President Bush to bring his attention to a policy briefing of the International Crisis Group (ICG) that warns that the rushed constitutional process in Iraq is deepening the rifts between Iraq’s principal communities. The leaders called on Bush to urge the Department of State to sponsor negotiations to reach a successful political settlement in Iraq. America can do better.
The text of the letter is below:
September 28, 2005
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to bring to your attention a policy briefing of the International Crisis Group (ICG) on the situation in Iraq that was publicly released on Monday. The ICG, an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization, is funded by governments, companies and private donors and its reports and policy briefings are widely read and valued.
The policy briefing in question concludes that “Instead of healing the growing divisions between Iraq’s three principal communities – Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs – a rushed constitutional process has deepened rifts and hardened feelings. Without a strong U.S.-led initiative to assuage Sunni Arab concerns, the constitution is likely to fuel rather than dampen the insurgency, encourage ethnic and sectarian violence, and hasten the country’s violent break-up.”
The United States has borne too heavy a burden in Iraq in terms of American lives lost, serious injuries, and more than $200 billion in taxpayer funds to allow the constitutional process to become a divisive force rather than the unifying one that we all hoped it would be. Our military leaders have repeatedly told us that there is no purely military solution in Iraq and that a broad-based political settlement among the Iraqis is necessary for success and for the defeat of the insurgency.
With the backing from the foreign ministries of so many of our friends and allies and with such an impressive list of present and former government officials from a host of nations on its Board and Executive Committee, the ICG enjoys a great deal of influence throughout the world.
Accordingly, we strongly urge you to direct the Department of State to sponsor negotiations to reach such a political settlement this year.