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Bombs, Zarqawi, and Sistani's Constitution
by Juan Cole (reposted)
Monday Jan 24th, 2005 7:21 PM
On Monday morning, guerrillas set off another car bomb near the headquarters in Baghdad of the Iraqi National Accord, the party headed by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Allawi was not in the offices. Early reports say at least ten people were injured.
Reuters also notes that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi issued a tape in which he denounced democracy as un-Islamic and warned of Shiite influence. He complained that the US was just using democracy as a cover for imperialist aggression, and added that democracy makes the people the source of authority, rather than scripture. Al-Hayat says Allawi responded immediately, vowing to wipe out Zaraqawi's group of terrorists.

Al-Hayat also says that Aqil Abdul Karim Saffar, a member of the leadership of the Iraqi National Accord (Allawi's party) said Sunday that if other parties win, it will provoke a civil war. He seemed to be saying that the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite coalition, would be unacceptable to other Iraqis were it to win and form the government.

Well, I guess they already have American-style democracy. This reminds me of Cheney saying that the US would be struck by terrorists if John Kerry were elected.

Likewise, Jalil Nuri, a leader of the Sadr movement that is loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, said that the accusations and threats in which some party slates running in the election had resorted might well cause a civil war. I suppose he is probably talking about Hazem Shaalan and his threats against Chalabi, who is a political (not ideological) ally of Muqtada al-Sadr.

Hamza Hendawi of AP highlights the political role of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. He writes:

' A close al-Sistani aide acknowledged the cleric's concern about the constitution, saying that he would not have played such a prominent role in the vote had it not been for his belief that the assembly's key task was to draw up a constitution. ''This is a very important election,'' Hussain al-Shahristani, a nuclear scientist once jailed by Saddam, told The Associated Press. ''The assembly will write the constitution that will guarantee the future of Iraq. He won't have done this if it was just another election,'' said Shahristani, himself a candidate running on the slate endorsed by al-Sistani. The white-bearded cleric is expected to plunge anew into politics when the assembly begins to draft the constitution which, if adopted in a referendum scheduled to be held by Oct. 15, will be the basis for a second general election before Dec. 15. '

Based on past evidence, my guess is that Sistani will push for personal status law to be religious. It governs marriage, divorce, inheritance, alimony, etc. Sistani will want Shiites to be under Shiite religious law, Chaldean Catholics to be under Catholic canon law, Sunnis to be under Sunni shariah or Islamic codes, etc. This system is also used in Lebanon and Israel. It has disadvantages for women, and it causes an entanglement of the state with religion, since typically the clergy are the arbiters of it.

Sistani will also likely want a fairly strong Federal state, maybe even a centralized state like like France rather than the Swiss-style cantons that the Kurds seem to want, which will bring him into conflict with the Kurds.

If a parliament/ constitutional assembly can be elected January 30, it will then have to open all the cans of worms in Iraq at once as it crafts the permanent constitution.
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A Family In Baghdad (reposted)faiza (reposted)Tuesday Jan 25th, 2005 12:07 AM