Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Iraq Constitution drafted in English

Expand Messages
  • World View
    Iraq: Constitution drafted by US in English, translated to Arabic!/Iraq Constitution Said Vague on Some Points By:Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      Iraq: Constitution drafted by US in English, translated to

      Constitution Said Vague on Some Points
      By:Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer

      BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 - Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority and its Kurdish
      allies moved Monday toward fundamentally reshaping their nation,
      submitting a proposed constitution that would create a loose
      federation with strongly Islamic national laws.

      The draft constitution, sent to parliament just five minutes before a
      midnight deadline, outraged negotiators for Iraq's Sunni Arab
      minority, and Sunni constitutional delegates warned that civil unrest
      could erupt if the charter becomes law over their objections.

      "The streets will rise up," predicted Salih Mutlak, a Sunni delegate.

      But the coalition of Shiites and Kurds, which holds a heavy majority
      in parliament and could easily approve the constitution on its own,
      agreed late Monday to postpone a vote for three days in hopes of
      appeasing Sunni negotiators.

      Sunni support for the constitution is seen as crucial to ending the
      insurgency that continues to stage deadly attacks across the country.
      Sunnis fear the proposed federal system would cause the breakup of
      Iraq, but Shiite and Kurdish leaders said they intended to yield
      little ground in their right to form separate federal states.

      "There will be no central government like before," said Humam
      Hamoudi, the constitutional committee chairman and a member of the
      Shiite sect that was subjected to decades of repression under Saddam
      Hussein's centrally controlled rule. "There will be decentralized

      Hamoudi said the coming days would bring dialogue, but he
      added, "there will be no changes in the articles or the details of
      the constitution."

      In Washington, the White House lauded the Iraqi government for
      submitting a constitution and meeting the deadline requirement of a
      U.S.-crafted interim law.

      "We welcome today's development as another step forward in Iraq's
      constitutional process," said a White House statement. "The progress
      made over the past week has been impressive."

      Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also praised the Iraqis in a
      statement for their "statesmanlike decision" to use three more days
      to build a national consensus.

      Negotiators here described American officials as playing a major role
      in the draft. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad shuttled among Iraqi
      leaders, pushing late Monday for the inclusion of Sunnis in talks,
      negotiators said. U.S. Embassy staff members worked from a Kurdish
      party headquarters to help type up the draft and translate changes
      from English to Arabic for Iraqi lawmakers, negotiators said.

      The last night of talks took place on a day of power outages, blamed
      on insurgent attacks, that also knocked out water service to Iraq's
      capital. Meanwhile, roadside bombings on Monday killed two U.S.
      soldiers in Baghdad and an Iraqi couple near the northern city of
      Kirkuk. The mainstream Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party also reported the
      killing of one of its leaders, Amer Abdul Jabar Ziayan, north of

      In Pakistan, officials reported that 11 Pakistani workers had been
      freed nine days after they were kidnapped in Iraq while traveling by
      bus to Baghdad from Kuwait.

      If no major changes are made, the draft constitution would officially
      enshrine a sweeping transformation of Iraq that began 2 1/2 years ago
      with the U.S.-led invasion and the overthrow of Hussein. The changes
      would have enormous ramifications for Iraq's 26 million people, its
      resources and relations with its neighbors, such as Turkey, who fear
      the Kurdish north's move toward near-independence will heighten
      revolts among their own Kurdish minorities.

      The constitution as written would formalize and broaden the autonomy
      enjoyed by the Kurdish north since creation of a U.S.-protected "no-
      fly" zone following the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

      The charter's definition of Iraq as a federal union also would clear
      the way for a southern Shiite state made up of as many as half of
      Iraq's 18 provinces, negotiators said. The Supreme Council for the
      Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite religious party that is the
      country's strongest political bloc and that has strong ties to
      neighboring Iran, called for such a sub-state this month.

      Sunnis fear they would be left with an impoverished, weakened state
      in the west and center.

      Negotiators said Monday that the draft would put Iraq's existing oil
      production under control of the central government. But control of
      new oil production would go to the south and north, where the oil is
      produced, meaning revenue for the central government, and Sunnis,
      would likely ebb within a few years.

      "We gave a choice - whoever doesn't want federalism can opt not to
      practice it," said Ali Debagh, a Shiite constitutional committee
      member. He acknowledged that the Sunnis would be unlikely to accept
      such a draft in a national referendum scheduled for October.

      The draft constitution submitted Monday stipulates that Iraq is an
      Islamic state and that no law can contradict the principles of Islam,
      negotiators confirmed.

      Opponents have charged that the latter provision would subject Iraqis
      to rule by religious edicts of individual clerics or sects.

      The opponents also said women would lose gains they made during
      Hussein's rule, when they were guaranteed equal rights under civil
      law in matters including marriage, divorce and inheritance. The draft
      constitution says individuals can choose to have family matters
      decided by either religious or civil law.

      Supporters say a separate bill of rights would protect women, and
      provisions of the constitution say no law can contradict democracy or
      that bill of rights.

      Khalilzad, speaking to CNN early Tuesday, called the proposed
      constitution a "very good" draft that guarantees equal rights for
      all. An American serving as adviser to the Kurds, Peter Galbraith,
      disagreed that the charter protected women's rights and condemned
      what he called the Bush administration's "hypocrisy" on that issue in
      the constitution.

      The Islamic law provisions would not apply in the Kurdish north,
      negotiators said.

      Kurdish negotiators this week criticized Khalilzad, a Muslim who
      helped draft a constitution last year as U.S. envoy to his native
      Afghanistan, for allegedly supporting the Shiite push for a heavy
      emphasis on religion in Iraq's new charter.

      Both Sunnis and Kurds accused Khalilzad of pushing negotiators too
      hard to make Monday's deadline, already extended once, and keep the
      country on a strict timeline that calls for the October constitution
      referendum and new national elections in December. The United States
      has viewed the timeline as critical to its hopes of scaling back its
      138,000 troops here by spring.

      But negotiators credited Khalilzad on Monday with persuading Shiites
      and Kurds to take more time to try to bring Sunnis into support of
      the draft.

      Mutlak expressed shock at how close other negotiators seemed to have
      come Monday at passing the draft without further consulting
      Sunnis. ""Frankly, I don't trust them anymore," he said afterward.

      "Congratulations on your constitution," Mutlak told Hamoudi, the
      Shiite committee chairman, early Tuesday after the session. "Yours,"
      Hamoudi said. Mutlak disagreed, grimly: "Yours."

      Defeating the constitution in an Oct. 15 referendum would require two-
      thirds of voters in three of Iraq's provinces to reject it. Sunnis
      are thought capable of securing such a vote in at least two provinces
      in a fair election. If the parliament had failed to submit a draft
      Monday, it would have dissolved and elections would have been held
      for a new assembly to try to devise a new draft. If the referendum
      fails Oct. 15, it will trigger the same series of events.

      Because of insurgent threats and boycott demands from their leaders,
      the majority of Iraq's Sunnis stayed out of January national
      elections that seated the current parliament and government. The move
      greatly diminished their clout in the government and in the
      constitutional talks. Many Sunni leaders said they recognize that was
      a mistake, and have been mobilizing followers to vote "no" in
      the constitutional referendum.

      Special correspondents Omar Fekeiki and Naseer Nouri in Baghdad and
      staff writer Robin Wright in Washington contributed to this report.



      To subscribe to this group, send an email to:

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.