From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: Iraq | International
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.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by faiza (reposted)
Tuesday Jan 25th, 2005 12:07 AM
The Iraqi elections are getting closer….only some two weeks now. Amman is filling with journalists and reporters on their way to Baghdad, disregarding the dangerous conditions,
to cover the event. I salute them all, with appreciation…the members of a profession seeking troubles, and dangers…for the sake of finding truth.
I can almost see the subject is very important for the west, because it is a decisive challenging
point; the war was waged in the name of freedom and democracy for Iraq, and now, the elections are supposed to be the semi-final ring in the war phases…very well, isn’t this democratic process supposed to take place calmly, and rationally? Isn’t the presence of the occupation forces supposed to provide the suitable conditions to perform the elections, and the democratic process?
What is happening, my dear, is that they have ruined all circumstances, mixed up all cards, and provoked the extremists from all sides to start war against the elections, and those who will participate in it, nominees, voters, and voting centers.
Is this wise?? Huh…
These are the modern, wise methods in solving the problems of nations, and we are getting acquainted with them, in the Iraqi field.
And how was the subject of different sects and ethnic groups handled? Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, and others, then Muslims and non-Muslims, then Sunni and Shi’aat. The slogan was to achieve justice for all in the coming government, very well, but it is evident that it was an honest word, used in the cause of dishonesty, meaning, it was meant to disband, not gather, nor provide justice, it was meant to array the spirit of animosity and segregation among all parties…these are the conditions in the Iraqi field today.
Whether by foolishness, or intentionally, this is what happened…..
The Kurdish region is peaceful, and explosions rarely occur there, nor are the occupation forces seen there, as if they are living in another Iraq, a different one from the one lived in by the Sunni and Shi’aat.
Why? Because the way the Kurds stand is clear and tidy, since their separation from the central government in Baghdad, after the Kuwait war. The Kurdish leaders are living a state of harmony and understanding with America since that time, so, they were rewarded by security and stability, which they enjoyed since the fall of the regime in April2003 .
As for the Shi’aa, some confrontations with Al-Sadder took place, and there was an attempt to curb down his presence, while there are some other factions, like the group of Al-Hakeem, originally from the opposition groups that entered Iraq under the protection of America. For those, America is trying to give a bigger chance to win in the elections, because their attitude is guaranteed in advance.
Reorganizing the Shia’at’s field, supporting some groups, and curbing others, then the insistence upon starting the elections without any postponement.
And of course the Sunni’s faced the meanest curbing and cruelty (I am a shia’at, do not imagine me an extremist Sunni or pro-Saddam), the bottom line is; this is the strategy of separate, then rule, and this is what we see with our own eyes in Iraq.
The Sunnis are demanding a timetable for the withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq, and Al-Sadder and his faction agree with that. Now, I am not a member of this party, or that, but I love the word of right and justice, love Iraq and the Iraqis, and want peace and security for them, and these won’t be achieved as long as there is injustice, segregation, or the ignoring of legitimate national demands.
What would harm America in announcing a timetable of its forces withdrawal? I think this is a demand that would make the American people happy, even before the Iraqi people, for it would mean the return of their boys and girls home, and getting rid of the nightmare that is called “the war on Iraq”.
And the Iraqis will be happy, seeing some light on the horizon, becoming independent, without the foreign forces, and that would guarantee the return of security and quietness, for this would eliminate the reasons for the existence of terrorism in Iraq, and the extremists that filtrated in.
Isn’t this the rational, logical speech??
Or am I a naïve dreamer??
Where is the right logic, then??
For Iraq to remain a burning land? For the differances of opinion between Iraqis to accumilate and get bigger?
for the Sunnies to accuse the Shia'ats that they are in collaboration with the occupation, and only want a government with a Shia'at majority? for the Shia'ats to think that the Sunnies are merely selfish people, who are used to getting important posts and government seats for themselves, and now they are burning all the cards, pushing Iraq to falling in the pit? why don't we open the door to a dialogue, and listen, perhaps we could find some points on which we could all meet, Sunnies and Shia'ats?
I do not think the doors are closed, there must be some door, some dialogue, and bridges to narrow the veiwpoints differances... even if we had to postpone the election date for two or three months, and that would be after we get a garantee from the Sunnies to stop all acts of violance. But look here with me... America doesn't want a dialogue, nor bridges between the Iraqis, Sunnies and Shia'ats.
America wants to get on with the elections by any price, to consolidate the new realiaty. But this stubborness won't bring peace and security to Iraq.... Iraq will remain a battle feild for fighting, destruction, devastation, and the extreemists, if we do not open the doors of dialogue.
The fate of Iraq is in the hands of America, not the Iraqis, and that is the real catasrophe... that is the meaning of an
occupied country...the political decesion comes from abroad, according to the interests of those abroad, and not to the interests of those inside... the violance, fighting, and chaoss will not stop before the a national reconcaliation, and a dialogue.
Here, we want to have some real democracy in Iraq. Democracy means the right for all parties to talk...and participate... Democracy is the cure against violance, and extreemists. And stubborness is the door through which terrorism and extreemists would enter. I pray to GOD to keep away differances from Iraq, and the Iraqis,
to unite their masses, and their words, in order to achive what is good to the country, and the
people...... Amen.
My heart is with Iraq, each day, each hour... each minute...I want to get back, and the country would be in safety. I want to get back, to help and participate in manufacturing a new Iraq...and a new life, safer, and more beautiful.
When would that be??? I don't know.
Our future and hopes are hanging, frozen, waiting for the decision from men living far away from us...
men with a differant identity, a differant culture, a differant religion, differant visions, and
differant intentions.... are those the people who want to decide the fate of the Iraqi future, before
its people who live in it?? isn't this the true injustice?? isn't this the reason for the sadness and
bitterness in our hearts??
Who would tell America to lift off its hands from Iraq, let the people agree, and form their
lives in a suitable way. Who would tell America that her precence there means seggrigation, hatrids, and endless violance....Who would tell America?? who shall make her get out of Iraq, and the swamp of iraq??
When will the world find out the truth of what is happening in Iraq?? and when will the world interfere to help the people of Iraq, to pull them out of the quick sand in which they are all sinking, without exception??
I do not know..... the picture looks very dark....... and I can do nothing but wait..... and pray.