With the deadline for agreement on Iraq's draft constitution approaching fast, the Arabic press expresses concern at a call from a senior Shia leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, for an autonomous Shia region in the south.
Many papers warn that such calls - made in response to the achievement of greater autonomy by Iraq's Kurdish community - can only lead to the eventual break-up of the country.
The last thing we were expecting from Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was his statement on the need to establish a Shia federal region in Iraq... We urge Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, whom we admire and respect, to revise his new theories, which will only be suicidal for Iraq's interests.
Commentary by Ahmad al-Rub'i in London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat
The call by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the Iraqi Shia leader, for a Shia region in Iraq has not only surprised Iraq's different political groups but also all those sincere non-Iraqis, who have been calling for Iraq's unity since the first day of the American invasion.
By saying Iraq should be established on a federal basis so that the Shias have their province, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq has triggered a political time bomb, which makes the situation in Iraq more confused than ever.
We do fear for the future of Iraq now that suicidal blueprints for dismembering the country have come to be proclaimed so loudly and clearly. We wish Sayyid Al-Hakim as well as other politicians of sectarian persuasions would hasten to retract such dangerous calls.
Commentary by Ahmad al-Rub'i in Iraq's Al-Sharq al-Awsat
We should respect all people's choices and the Iraqi people should not be an exception, nor should any Iraqi group be an exception either, when it proposes a federalist state in Iraq.
Saudi Arabia's Al-Jazirah
The meetings of political blocs are continuing in a race against time to reach a compromise before mid-August... Federalism stands as a stumbling block... all other obstacles in the way of the constitutional process can be surmounted... We want to see Iraq in the hearts of all those meeting together rather than in the identities each party is hiding from the other.
Commentary by Basim al-Shaykh in Iraq's Al-Dustur
The only guarantee to resolve the Kurdish issue peacefully and democratically is a peaceful and brotherly relation between Arabs and Kurds, a true partnership between them, as well as acknowledging the rights of the Kurds, including that of self-determination.
Commentary by Abd-al-Husayn Sha'ban in London-based Al-Hayat
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