Sunday, August 28, 2005

President Bush warned yesterday that insurgents in Iraq will become more violent in the coming months in an attempt to subvert the country’s constitutional process.

“As democracy in Iraq takes root, the enemies of freedom, the terrorists will become more desperate, more despicable and more vicious,” Mr. Bush said yesterday from his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Iraq’s Shi’ite-majority parliament finished the draft constitution yesterday. However, some minority Sunnis — who ruled under Saddam Hussein, who was ousted in 2003 — say they will oppose the document.

Mr. Bush praised Iraqi leaders for completing the draft process, despite escalated violence in the region.

“Just last week, terrorists called for the death of anybody, including women and the elderly, who supports the democratic process in Iraq,” Mr. Bush said.

“They have deliberately targeted children receiving candy from soldiers. They have targeted election workers registering Iraqis to vote. They have targeted hospital workers who are caring for the wounded.”

Mr. Bush said the violence will continue to escalate until the referendum on the constitution by Iraqi citizens on Oct. 15.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, told ABC’s “This Week” that it is too early to determine whether the Sunni opposition is simply political, but that if genuine, it could have a disastrous effect.

“It’s just too hard to tell how much of this is posturing at this point and how much of this is going to result in people taking up arms,” Mr. Biden said. “At the end of the day, if the Sunnis and that entire portion of the country opts out of this process, that’s a formula for civil war.”

Mr. Bush acknowledged Sunni opposition but said such disagreements are to be expected in the democratic process.

“Of course, there’s disagreement. We’re watching a political process unfold, a process that has encouraged debate and compromise — a constitution that was written in a society in which people recognize that there had to be give and take,” Mr. Bush said.

Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the administration has been preparing for a spike in violence, but told CNN that he doubted the end result would be civil war.

“It’s going to be a major public relations effort, and that’s the nicest way I can put it — or campaign — to sell this,” Mr. Roberts said. “Although, once the Sunnis really take a look at this and say, all right, there have been some concessions here and they punted on the federalism, either this, or civil war? My word, I would think they would take this.”

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