Monday, August 29, 2005

Constitution deal

Guardian reports Iraq took a historic gamble yesterday when the ruling Shia and Kurdish coalition bulldozed over the objections of Sunni Arabs to finish a new constitution.... President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, declared the document complete. "The constitution is left to our people to approve or reject it. I hope that our people will accept it, despite some flaws." He said all sides had reservations about the charter and rejection in the referendum on October 15 would not derail the political process. "This is part of democracy. If the people do not approve it, we will draft another constitution."

He is right, and if the Sunnis are smart they will suppress the insurgents and switch completely into campaign mode to make sure they get a number of elected Sunnis to work on the next constitution.
.... The 15 Sunnis on the 71-member constitution committee said they rejected the charter because it enshrined federalism,
Federalism would mean that the areas would be self governing. It would seem they would like that, being able to govern their area, with little influence by the Kurds and the Shi'ites. What they really are worried about is not Federalism, but the fact that their region does not have large oil fields. People falsly accused the US venture into Iraq as being "all about the oil", but inn this case, as far as the Sunnis are concerned, it really is "all about the oil"
undermined Iraq's Arab identity
It would seem their Arab identity would be enhanced, since the Kurds, who are not Arab, would be in their semi autonomous region, and although I really dont think the Shi'ites would join with Iran, Iran is also not Arab.
and threatened those who had served in Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime.
Aha!!! The real problem.
Last-minute amendments failed to allay their fears that Iraq would be parcelled into semi-autonomous regions which would marginalise Sunnis in the centre, where there is no oil, and give Iran sway over the Shia south. In a joint statement the Sunni panel members urged the Arab League, the United Nations and international organisations to intervene to block the document. Sunni regimes such as Saudi Arabia are known to be uneasy at their sect's alienation in Iraq.... The last-minute concessions did win over some Sunnis, including the vice-president, Ghazi al-Yawer, though in apparent evidence of unease he shunned the signing ceremony, citing illness. The excuse prompted laughter from his Shia colleagues. The Iraqi Islamic party and some other influential Sunni groups did not immediately respond, raising the possibility of a split Sunni vote. The 15 Sunni panel members who so vocally rejected the draft were appointed, not elected, said western diplomats, and the next six weeks of campaigning would reveal whether they spoke for their community. There is little doubt that many Sunnis oppose the constitution. In recent days the Muslim Scholars' Association and tribal Sunni leaders mobilised thousands of protesters, including some who carried pictures of Saddam Hussein and chanted for the unity of Iraq.
Carrying pictures of Saddam while calling for the unity of Iraq is not likely to please the Kurds or the Shi'ites, who he persecuted. They should realize Saddam is never going to regain power, and they should encourage a unified Iraq to benefit all areas.
Sunnis comprise a fifth of the 26 million population but, thanks to a provision originally intended to give Kurds a veto, a two-thirds majority in three of Iraq's 18 provinces will torpedo the referendum. Sunnis are thought to be a majority in four. A tactical alliance with followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, a maverick Shia cleric who is as hostile to federalism as he is to Shia rivals in the government, would boost the prospects of a veto. Secular groups uneasy at the constitution's Islamist bent may also join a no vote. Some 5m copies of the draft are due to be printed and distributed in the coming days, followed by a government-sponsored television, radio and newspaper publicity drive urging a yes vote. The campaign will test the relationship between the ruling class, largely sheltered in Baghdad's green zone, and a population that considers security, electricity and clean water a more urgent task than a new set of laws.
Then they should turn in the insurgents, who keep blowing up power stations and transmission lines.
Captain Ed blogged We won't know the results of that vote until mid-October, and we can expect plenty of campaigning in Central Iraq to convince the Sunni rank and file that this deal will be the best they can get. Had they voted in the last election, they could have had their own representatives in the negotiations to tell them that. Hopefully Sunni voters will have seen the idiocy of their boycott and what they lost as a result, and will not make the same mistake twice.

Andrew Olmsted blogged Now it is left to see what the voters will decide on October 15. If the constitution is rejected by the voters, a new government will be needed to try again. However, a new government might include greater Sunni participation, and therefore hold greater legitimacy among the Sunni population.

No comments: