BAGHDAD - The U.S.-brokered compromise here this week to make Iraq's constitution flexible may have saved this country from collapsing into civil war — or at least postponed it a few months.
But it is a deeply flawed document, peppered with religious slogans, and leaves plenty of room for Shiites and Kurds to govern themselves. Iraqis vote Saturday in a referendum on the constitution, which has been the cause of rancorous debate here since it was written.
Secular Iraqis, women's groups and Arab Sunnis — who had almost no say in drafting the constitution — have been complaining that the constitution is a formula for dividing Iraq into three pieces, with the Sunnis getting the worst slice: a triangle of desert without known oil reserves. Critics also say the draft constitution gives too much authority to Shiite religious leaders friendly to the regime in Iran.
Editor's note: Richard wrote this analysis piece for MSNBC.com. You can read the rest of it here.