“There is no doubt that all the people here will say no to the constitution because nobody here trusts the Government and nobody wants the country to be divided the way the other groups want it,” Mr Samaraai said. Jamal al-Shimari, a neighbour, agreed. “It’s not going to be a constitution. It’s a conspiracy to divide the country,” he said, referring to the federal demands of the Shias and the Kurds.

The boycott of January’s elections is now widely seen as a mistake that left the Sunni minority, from whom the insurgency is drawn, without political representation. When Iraq’s leaders came to form a committee to write the constitution, they were forced to draft in unelected Sunni representatives for fear that excluding them would further exacerbate tensions. But as the constitutional drafting process has dragged on, ordinary Sunnis have grown disillusioned and begun laying plans to wreck the charter, whatever it contains.

To do so, Sunnis would have to persuade two thirds of voters in at least three of Iraq’s 18 provinces to vote “no”. Although they represent only 20 per cent of Iraq’s population, they could muster such a majority in four provinces, giving them the power to make or break the charter. ~Timesonline.co.uk

Whether or not Sunni political leaders are able to scupper the constitution by mobilising majorities in western and central provinces in which they have much greater influence, the bitterness and mutual recriminations that will follow the attempt will likely prepare the way for a poisoned politics and a collapse of political consensus. Should the Sunnis succeed in defeating the constitution, no amount of whistling past the graveyard by the administration will be able to obscure the complete failure of its project (brought down, no less, by democratic self-determination), and should they fail they will be as permanently alienated from any future regime as nationalists were from Weimar.