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Baghdad Burning: Draft Constitution - Part II …

Draft Constitution - Part II


By Riverbend of Baghdad Burning
Friday, September 23, 2005
http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/
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See also… Baghdad Burning: Draft Constitution - Part I…

The final version (Version 3.0) of the Iraqi draft constitution was finally submitted to the UN about ten days ago. It was published in English in the New York Times on the 15th of September.

I blogged about some of the articles in the first two chapters last week, so I’ll jump right to Chapter Three: The Federal Authorities. The first notable difference between the final version of the constitution published in the New York Times and the Arabic version published in Al-Sabah is in article (47) under chapter three which sets down the general conditions for the ‘Council of Representatives’. In the Arabic version, there 6 conditions, while in the English one there are only five.

The condition that isn’t in the English version is the one mentioning that women should make up 25% of the members of the Council of Representatives.

Article (47):

4- Voting laws aspire to achieve women’s representation on the Council of Representatives of a ratio of not less than a quarter.

Previously, when rights groups complained that the draft did not go far enough in ensuring that women's rights were preserved and protected from an Iranian style theocracy, supporters of the draft would point to the above clause and say "see, women's rights ARE protected".

Upon reading the Arabic version of the constitution, that is not necessarily true - the key word in this phrasing is "aspire". This translates accordingly: it isn't mandatory to have 25% women on the council-it is an aspiration, like many of the noble aspirations set down on paper by our esteemed Puppet government.

Almost two years ago, the Governing Council (then headed by SCIRI puppet extraordinaire Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim) came out with Decree 137 to abolish the Personal Status Law. Women’s rights groups rose up and demanded that Paul Bremer turn the decision around- which he did. We were made grateful that our secular laws were not abolished by the pro-occupation puppets!

With this draft constitution, Decree 137 has virtually been brought back to life and aspiring to have 25% of the Council of Representatives female isn’t going to compensate for that- especially when the overwhelming majority of the above-mentioned women are from parties like Da’awa and SCIRI.

I’m wondering- where is the outrage of pro-occupation, pro-war women’s rights advocates? Why the deafening silence, ladies?

According to Article (58) in the same section, the Council of Representatives will be responsible for the selection (through vote) of the president. Why shouldn’t presidential elections be through direct vote?

On the issue of the President of the Republic, there is an interesting article in the Executive Authority section of the same chapter. Article (65) lists the conditions for the President of the Republic (which are the same for the Prime Minister):

Article (65):

The candidate for the president's post must:

1st -- be Iraqi by birth from Iraqi parents.
2nd -- be legally competent and have reached the age of 40.
3rd -- have a good reputation and political experience and be known for his integrity, rectitude, justice and devotion to the homeland.
4th -- not have been convicted of a crime that violates honor.

“Be Iraqi by birth from Iraqi parents” is significant in that it emphasizes that BOTH parents must be Iraqi (this is more pronounced in the Arabic version of the constitution with the use of grammar ‘abouwayn iraqiayn’). While this seems very natural it is noteworthy because it means that secular American darling Iyad Allawi is out of the picture as candidate for the presidency and the prime ministry. It is very well-known in Iraq that Allawi’s mother is Lebanese from a prominent Lebanese family (and related to Chalabi’s wife).

Saudi Arabia is speaking up lately against Iranian influence in Iraq. Many suspect it is because Saudi favorites like Ghazi Ajeel Al-Yawir and Allawi have been sidelined and Iran-influenced politicians like Jaafari and Hakim are now in power.

“Not have been convicted of a crime that violates honor” is also interesting. Does that mean it’s ok to have been convicted of other types of crimes? Like Chalabi, for example- embezzlement- is that ok? Just what crimes violate honor and what crimes keep honor intact

Federalism...

Chapter 5: Authorities of the Regions is troubling. I have no problem with the concept of federalism. We’ve been accustomed to an autonomous Kurdistan for decades. The current laws about federalism and regional policies in the draft constitution might better be titled the “Roadmap to Divide Iraq”.

Article (115) is especially worrying. It states:

Article (115):

Every province or more has the right to establish a region based on a request for a referendum to be submitted in one of the following ways:

1st -- A request from one-third of the members in each of the provincial councils in the provinces that wish to establish a region.
2nd -- A request from one-tenth of the voters in each of the provinces that wish to establish a region.

This means that any two provinces can decide they’d like to become a ‘region’ with laws and regulations differing from surrounding regions. Article (116) fortifies this right with:
Article (116):

The region writes a constitution for itself, defines the structure of the region's powers and its authorities as well as the mechanism of using these powers in a way that does not run contrary to the constitution.)

So basically, each region will get their own constitution which must not run contrary to the draft constitution. Also, according to the language article (4), clause 5:

Article (4):
5th -- Any region or province can take a local language as an additional official language if a majority of the population approves in a universal referendum.
The abovementioned region may take on its own ‘local’ language.

Article (117) has a clause that authorizes “regional authorities” to:

Article (117):
5th -- The regional government shall be in charge of all that's required for administering the region, especially establishing and regulating internal security forces for the region such as police, security and guards for the region.)

So here’s a riddle: what do you call a region with its own constitution, its own government, its own regional guard and possibly its own language? It’s quite simple- you call it a country.

Article (137) of the Transitional Guidelines in Chapter 6 says:

Article (137):

The Transitional Administration Law for the Iraqi State and its appendix are voided upon creation of the new government, except for what appears in paragraph (a) of Article 53 and Article 58 of the Transitional Administration Law.)

The above article refers to the Transitional Administration Law set out by Paul Bremer during the very early days of the occupation. This is one of the only clauses that shall remain:

Article 53 [Kurdistan Regional Government]

(A) The Kurdistan Regional Government is recognized as the official government of the territories that were administered by the that government on 19 March 2003 in the governorates of Dohuk, Arbil, Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk, Diyala and Neneveh. The term "Kurdistan Regional Government" shall refer to the Kurdistan National Assembly, the Kurdistan Council of Ministers, and the regional judicial authority in the Kurdistan region.

This is outrageous because the areas administered by ‘that government’ on the 19th of March, 2003 are highly disputed. Kirkuk, Diyala and Nenevah (Mosul) are certainly not parts of the autonomous Kurdish region, no matter what the Kurdistan Regional Government decided on the 19th of March, 2003- the very beginning of the war.

And Kurdistan is really the least of Iraq’s worries. There is talk of possibly setting up an autonomous region in the south that will be run by pro-Iran extremists Da’awa and SCIRI. Should provinces like Karbala and Najaf decide to form a region in the south, America can congratulate itself on the creation of an extended Iran. Already, these provinces are running on their own rules and regulations, with their own militias.

Federalism is ok when a country is stable. It’s fantastic when countries or troubled regions are attempting to unite. In present-day Iraq it promises to be catastrophic. It will literally divide the country and increase instability. This is especially true with the kind of federalism they want to practice in Iraq.

Federalism based on geography is acceptable, but federalism based on ethnicity and sect? Why not simply declare civil war and get it over with?

ENDS

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