Within the Shiite camp, Muqtada Al-Sadr was the most critical of the Iraqi Constitution - in particularly the issue of federalism. However according to Knight Ridder
, he said he will not oppose it (hat tip to Keven Drum
Rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's representatives said that while he's not thrilled about the constitution, he likely wouldn't encourage his followers to oppose it.
"But for now, his opinion is neutral,"
Why's the change of heart. Muqqy may be an low-life opportunist, but he is not stupid. He would not dare openly oppose Al-Sistani. Sistani openly blessed the constitution and for a Shiite faction to oppose it is political suicide. So Muqqy accomodates. Sadr is not the only one who compromise on the constitution. Even the Iraqi Islamic Party (an Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) also compromised.
The largest Sunni political group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, said that although it has encouraged its supporters to vote down the document, its efforts are focused on the December election for a new National Assembly.
"There are powers that will make sure this bad constitution passes," said Ala'a al-Maki, a party spokesman. "We are focusing more on ensuring the Sunnis participate in the next election."
These events may be strange to those who doubt the benefit of democratic process. But for advocates of Democracy, this is easily understood. The political process moderates extremists, forcing them to be pragmatic and make compromise. Bottom line, extremists can be coopted by democracy. Democracy promotion is not a eutopic as critics claim, but rather it is a pragmatic (and only) tool to combat extremism.