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Bilkent University Symposium

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  • azmigedik
    Azmi Gedik has sent you an article from The Washington Times. ... CONSTITUTIONAL TEMPEST IN IRAQ By Bruce Fein ... V olcanic. That characterizes a heated
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2004
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      Azmi Gedik has sent you an article from The Washington Times.

      By Bruce Fein
      V olcanic. That characterizes a heated symposium I attended in
      Ankara, Turkey, last week sponsored by the Foreign Policy Institute
      and Bilkent University to appraise "Iraq on the way to its new
      Constitution." The attendees included Iraqi participants in the March
      8, 2004, interim constitution promulgated by the 25 member Iraqi
      Governing Council (IGC). Other attendees hailed from Turkey, the
      United Kingdom and the United States.

      The symposium exposed numerous fault lines destined to fracture
      Iraq soon after the Coalition Provisional Authority and United States
      sovereignty dissolve on June 30, 2004:

      · An interim constitution and Iraqi Transitional Government
      devoid of legitimacy.

      · A legal system denuded of legal principles.

      · An irreconcilable conflict between the universal tenets of
      Islam and fundamental democratic freedoms.

      · Implacable embitterment of Kurds toward Arabs born of their
      wretched oppression and genocide under Saddam Hussein.

      · A demand by Turkmen to the same language and autonomy
      privileges enjoyed by Kurds.

      · And exchanges and monologues that smacked more of belligerence
      than of fraternity.

      Within days after conclusion of the symposium fireworks, a
      representative of Iraq's most influential Shi'ite voice, Grand
      Ayatollah Ali-al-Sistani, warned the cleric would issue a fatwa or
      religious edict prohibiting participation in the Iraqi Transitional
      Government and mandating resistance through popular demonstrations
      and sit-ins.

      To avoid such pandemonium and chaos, according to Ayatollah
      Sistani's representative in Kuwait, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Mohri,
      the interim constitution must delete the special authority of Kurds
      to thwart a final constitution and must strengthen the power of a
      Shi'ite-dominated presidency.

      The staggering blunders of the Bush administration in governing
      post-Saddam Iraq have left no satisfactory post-June 30 denouements.
      The least bad option is a managed partition into statelets for Kurds,
      Turkmen, Sunnis and Shi'ites to escape a reprise of Yugoslavia's
      blood-stained disintegration.

      Symposium participants challenged Iraqi representatives to defend
      the legitimacy of their constitutional handiwork, soporifically
      styled the "Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the
      Transitional Period." No member of the IGC was elected. All were
      appointed by the United States. None enjoy more than a crumb of
      popular support.

      A favorite of the Defense Department, Ahmed Chalabi, is more
      reviled than Saddam Hussein. The interim constitution was neither
      drafted nor debated in a public forum before its promulgation. The
      document turned precepts of self-government on their heads.

      The defenders fatuously retorted that the interim constitution
      and the IGC deserved legitimacy because both were superior to Saddam
      Hussein and Ba'athist tyranny. By that yardstick, a restoration of
      the King Feisel dynasty would be defensible. It was further urged
      that the IGC featured members from all of Iraq's major ethnic and
      religious groups.

      But Turkmen are underrepresented in proportion to their numbers,
      and women occupy but one seat of 25. Moreover, the general
      unpopularity of IGC members convincingly demonstrates they do not
      embody the wishes of the ethnic or religious constituents they
      purport to represent.

      Drafters and supporters of the interim constitution readily
      conceded its celebration of contradictory principles. Article 4, for
      example, declares Iraqi's federal system shall not pivot
      on "ethnicity." Yet Article 53 makes Kurdish ethnicity the foundation
      for the "Kurdistan Regional Government," i.e., the Kurdistan National
      Assembly, the Kurdistan Council of Ministers, and the regional
      judicial authority in the Kurdistan region.

      Article 7 enshrines both the universal tenets of Islam that
      subjugate women and strict gender equality as the supreme law of the
      land. A challenge by one of two female conferees (neither from Iraq)
      to harmonize the loud clashing was met by answers that Islam granted
      equality among men.

      Nothing was said to deny Article 7's grim risk of bringing honor
      killings in Jordan and female stonings in Afghanistan to Iraq.

      The tenets of Islam also war with the freedom of expression
      guaranteed in Article 13, for example, in mandating fatwas against
      Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" or similar irreverences about the
      Holy Koran or the Prophet Mohammed. The tenets also punish conversion
      from Islam with death, a punishment at war with Article 7's
      protection of religious freedom.

      Iraqi conferees insisted on the unity of the nation and the
      eagerness of Arabs to join hands with other nationalities. Yet
      Article 7 proclaims that, "the Arab people are an inseparable part of
      the Arab nation," with the tacit corollary that non-Arab
      nationalities are separable.

      When asked to justify the constitutional hierarchy between Arabs
      and non-Arabs, an Iraqi participant pleaded a defense of necessity to
      appease Arab sentiments, a plea reminiscent of Prime Minister Neville
      Chamberlain's appeasement of Adolf Hitler over the Sudetendland at

      Saddam's persecution of Kurds, including the use of chemical
      weapons and the notorious Anfahl campaign, was recited chapter and
      verse by several conferees to justify a unique Kurdistan state and
      muscular Kurdish safeguards. Those who suffered most under Saddam, it
      was hotly maintained, deserved the most under a new dispensation.
      Spokesmen for Turkmen, on the other hand, vehemently complained of
      maltreatment by Kurds. They insisted on Turkish as an official
      language and Turkmen autonomy equivalent to that of Kurds.

      The seminar changed no minds. Differences were more aggravated
      than softened. Contemplating Iraq's future evoked visions of civil
      war featuring rocket propelled grenades and AK-47s, not free and fair
      national assembly elections monitored by United Nations observers.

      The United States should declare its post-Saddam nation-building
      enterprise a failure. It should begin immediately to arrange the
      partition of Iraq by regional self-determination plebiscites. To
      paraphrase Winston Churchill, it would be the worst imaginable last
      chapter of Operation Enduring Freedom, except for all the plausible
      alternative scripts.

      Bruce Fein is a constitutional lawyer and international
      consultant at Fein & Fein and the Lichfield Group.

      This article was mailed from The Washington Times
      For more great articles, visit us at http://www.washingtontimes.com

      Copyright (c) 2004 News World Communications, Inc. All rights
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