Constitution Watch: The birth of "democracy" in Iraq - Page 4 - U2 Feedback

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Old 08-22-2005, 03:45 PM   #46
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Remember, for many of these countries/peoples the treatment of women is cultural, not religion based. When it first came in, Islam was supposed to offer a lot more liberation for women. As this paragraph states [http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/1219/p12s2-wogi.html]:

"The Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century was not an easy place for women when Islam took root there. They were seen as chattel and traded as war booty. The Koran gave them rights to education, satisfaction in marriage, divorce, property ownership, and an inheritance. English women would wait another 1,100 years before gaining similar property rights."

Of course, Islam and its leaders haven't done much to educate their followers to be more liberal in their interpretation of Islam, to keep up with modern times (much like some other religions). And, of course, it's in men's interest (yes, it's all men) to interpret Islamic teachings and incorporate them in their countries' laws in a manner that keep women subjugated.

But, ack, I don't wanna get into defending the religion. I'm an Islamic apostate, and freakin' proud of it.
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Old 08-23-2005, 03:34 AM   #47
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I don't think that this is the blueprint for a hardline Sharia state, I do not like it that Islam has such a primary role but it seems like a neccessity to keep the country united under a single government.

One may hope that the establishment of federalism as well as the preservation of democracy and human rights will be able to temper the new Iraq over it's first few decades.
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Old 08-23-2005, 04:32 AM   #48
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
I don't think that this is the blueprint for a hardline Sharia state, I do not like it that Islam has such a primary role but it seems like a neccessity to keep the country united under a single government.

One may hope that the establishment of federalism as well as the preservation of democracy and human rights will be able to temper the new Iraq over it's first few decades.
it actually is more about keeping the shiites happy than the country united. the kurds dont want sharia, hell, not even the sunnis want it. how is this keeping the country united?

and the thing about federalism is that it WILL lead to the disintegration of the country in the future. once the kurds and shiites start officially governing themselves, they will not want to stay together.
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Old 08-23-2005, 05:14 AM   #49
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Keeping the shiites happy is part of keeping the country united.

If federalism can be mutually beneficial and each group has a vested interest in remaining part of the country then it could work. It is a much better option than keeping the country held together by brute authoritarian force.

The only judge of Iraq will be time and effort, how it fares when the US is out of there.
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Old 08-23-2005, 05:19 AM   #50
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keeping the country together could only be achieved through mutual compromise. shiites will not compromise on sharia, because they believe it is god's will etc. a constitution that emphasizes the shiite interests but overlooks the concerns of the other two groups will not succeed in the long run.
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Old 08-23-2005, 05:21 AM   #51
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I think that thats a generalisation about the Shiites, Sistani has proven to be relatively effective in maintaining a moderate front for the Shiite religious groups ~ with a Bill of Rights full blown Sharia law should be impossible to implement.

The biggest obstacle is this post-totallitarian stress disorder among these groups that leads to an aversion to centralisation and in some cases secular governance.
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Old 08-23-2005, 05:32 AM   #52
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sistani is a cleric, but he is playing his hand very well. he is moderate enough for the US to deal with, which is in his interest if he wants to lead the shiites in the new iraq.

as for the bill of rights.. sharia is taken very literally by the shiites: the word of god. do you think the clerics would let it be overruled by the bill of rights? if islam is designated as the source for legislation in iraq, that means clerics are the real legislators-since they are the ones to interpret the meanings of the kuran.
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Old 08-23-2005, 05:35 AM   #53
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Possiblly true, but I need to study the whole document when it is translated.
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Old 08-23-2005, 05:46 AM   #54
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so, the result will resemble something awfully close to iran. a "democracy" ruled by the clerics, by "god's authority". seeing that iran is trying to get nuclear weapons themselves and is considered a part of the "axis of evil", one wonders why US bothered to enter iraq in the first place if this was supposed to be the end result.

in a nutshell: as a result of this constitution, iraqis will only be as free as iranians. that isnt much, and the result isnt really worth 200 billion dollars or thousands of lives.
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Old 08-23-2005, 05:50 AM   #55
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for additional context: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story...554716,00.html

a translation of the draft.
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Old 08-23-2005, 10:57 AM   #56
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Thanks, All I Want, you beat me to it. The NY Times has published the draft too.

"It only gives the Iraqis to be as free as Iranians", that's the best comment I've seen all day...touche. I actually agree with you on this Glad we are of the same opinion on Iraq anyway! (BTW I stopped replying in your Armenian scholar thread b/c Armenian history is just too damn depressing at times....I think we can agree that I hope that situation will end on a satisfactory note for all parties invlolved? Can we call a truce on that issue at least?)

The bottom line is: The US is aping Britain, its role model in things like this. They want to back whoever is the strongest faction on the ground right now b/c they have an immediate goal of keeping law and order. It is interesting that Henry Kissinger in his article stressed a noncomittal to a troop pullout right now b/c he warned that once the process is started it would feed upon itself and be unreversable, b/c of public opinion. But we are already slave to public opinion...everything is being done according to a timetable, they are looking over their shoulder at the polls back home.

If you ask me, I'd say that although nobody in the Bush camp wants to yet admit it, this is all being done according to Cindy Sheehan's timetable. And they'd shoot themselves in the foot before they ever admit that.

I'd say they're trying to create a kinder, gentler Suadi Arabia.,..a country where the Shiities hold sway. But they ignore one crucial diff: the Americans went into SA with their oil companes after the conwqiuest was over. The Sudis did the dirty work and pacified the state before we moved in. This time, America is doing the conquest.
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Old 08-24-2005, 12:08 AM   #57
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Originally posted by Teta040
Thanks, All I Want, you beat me to it. The NY Times has published the draft too.

"It only gives the Iraqis to be as free as Iranians", that's the best comment I've seen all day...touche. I actually agree with you on this Glad we are of the same opinion on Iraq anyway! (BTW I stopped replying in your Armenian scholar thread b/c Armenian history is just too damn depressing at times....I think we can agree that I hope that situation will end on a satisfactory note for all parties invlolved? Can we call a truce on that issue at least?)

The bottom line is: The US is aping Britain, its role model in things like this. They want to back whoever is the strongest faction on the ground right now b/c they have an immediate goal of keeping law and order. It is interesting that Henry Kissinger in his article stressed a noncomittal to a troop pullout right now b/c he warned that once the process is started it would feed upon itself and be unreversable, b/c of public opinion. But we are already slave to public opinion...everything is being done according to a timetable, they are looking over their shoulder at the polls back home.

If you ask me, I'd say that although nobody in the Bush camp wants to yet admit it, this is all being done according to Cindy Sheehan's timetable. And they'd shoot themselves in the foot before they ever admit that.

I'd say they're trying to create a kinder, gentler Suadi Arabia.,..a country where the Shiities hold sway. But they ignore one crucial diff: the Americans went into SA with their oil companes after the conwqiuest was over. The Sudis did the dirty work and pacified the state before we moved in. This time, America is doing the conquest.
Yeah, sure, lets call a truce. After the last ruling the guy will be free to leave Armenia at the end of August anyway. So its a pretty satisfactory solution

I knew we were in the same camp on Iraq, I am really curious what 'the supporters of freedom and democracy' would think about the recent developments.

Still, I think we could find other things to agree on in addition to 'war and destruction is bad'
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Old 08-24-2005, 01:03 AM   #58
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Michael Leden raised some very good points on the matter.
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I've been reading the Italian press on the Iraqi constitution, and some of the smarter commentators point out some things I think we've missed. First, there is hardly a country in the region without some language acknowledging Sharia as either "the" or "a major" basis for national legislation. But Iran, for example, says that Allah is the sole source of authority, while the Iraqi constitution says that the people are the only legitimate source of authority. This in itself is a revolutionary event. Big celebrations were under way among Kurds and Shi'ites, when the 3-day holiday was announced. These celebrations included lots of women, happy with the Bill of Rights that guaranteed freedom of religious choice, freedom for minorities, etc. The new constitution makes Iraq a Federal Republic, NOT an "Arab Republic," which is again revolutionary. And the federal nature of the new republic is revolutionary for the whole region. My favorite newspaper, il Foglio, comments: "All the neighboring countries (Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia) and also more distant ones (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria) have trouble facing the spread of a democratic Iraq, of a Constitution born from true multiparty elections, and now a new innovation has been added: the...decentralization of power."
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Old 08-24-2005, 01:28 AM   #59
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mark my words: mere words in the constitution will not hold back the religious leaders of that country.
'decentralization of power' will lead to this republic's demise.. youve heard it here first.

here is the scenario:

a few years after iraqi insurgency was quelled and the situation stabilized, the shiite majority, led by influential clerics, starts to push for a greater role for religion in the state affairs, introducing a new batch of laws in compliance the to islamic law. after a few months the push becomes intolerable to the mostly secular kurds in the north, and the northern iraq (the kurd governed region) decides to break away from the federal republic. with the loss of rich oil fields around kirkuk and mosul in sight, the republic tries to coerce the kurds into compliance. the iraqi army walks into the northern iraq to secure the oil fields, faces fierce resistance from the kurdish militia that has been fostered under self ruling. as fighting gains pace, the sunni minority, which has never quite recovered from saddam's downfall, takes its chances to launch an offensive against the republic.

meanwhile, concerned about a break-away kurdish state just next to her, turkey deploys troops along the southern border. with the iraqi army's failure to reclaim the oil fields in the north, turkish army enters northern iraq to intervene. syria and iran, also concerned about the creation of a kurdish state, get pulled into the conflict. hell breaks loose.


how does that sound for a future?
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Old 08-24-2005, 10:36 AM   #60
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Yes, All I Want, you hit one of the nails on the head. That is a very likely scenario. But even without such developments, there are other issues that could tick Turkey off. (Turkiye? What's the correct spelling? I like the second better--if I were Turkish I'd be ticked off at my country's name!)

I finally got the chance to read the Constitution (rough draft) last night. It's one of the most confusing things I've ever read. I've deliberately not read any commentary on it either. In addition to such doosies as the "region" laws, there's the potentially expolsive matter of languages.

Here are some of my faves:

Article 66: A presidential candidate should:

1. Be Iraq and the offspring of 2 Iraqi parents. ....

3. Have a good reputation and political experience, and be known as honest and faithful to the nation.

In the US, no foreign-born is permitted to run for or serve as President. We don't care about the parents though. You can be President and have one or both parents born elsewhere, as long as you were born here it's OK.(There have been 5 attempts in the 20th century alone to change this law, and there may be a 6th...many Republicans woukd like to see Arnold Schwartznaegger run for Pres..though it's unlikely the law will ever be overturned if all the others failed.) Why the emphasis on Iraqi parents? And political experience? How do you define that? Personally, I'd rather elect a guy with 25 yrs yrs as a mere county judge and a rep for being a well-respected figure liked by everybody in his community, than a guy who was a despised general or provincial president who the other party was grooming for the top job. Technically, anyone can run for President here. Look again, at Arnold....he was an actor! And by many counts, he has not done half-bad in California.) And show me an honest politican and I'll convert to Islam ...

Article 114:

2.A province or more has the the right to set a region according to a referendum called for in one of two ways:.......

--b. A demand by one tenth of the voters of the provinces that aim to set up a region.

You may as well hold up a giant sign saying: THOU SHALT SECEDE! No wonder the Kurds are dancing in the streets!!
As for the term "region"....there should be NO LANGUAGE in the constitution about "regions" at all. "Region" is a wonderfully ambiguous term that could mean anything from a semi-autonomous province with a weak local gov't that reports to a string central gov't with ultimate control over its sovereignity, to an American-style "state" with its own capital, flag, governor etc but functions just like an American state...it's "nationality" being in name only; to a fully fledged mini-country or secede state ovber which the weak central gov't is in name only. And that's the whole issue here: just what IS a region? If you ask me, the writers of this thing do not envsion a single Iraq at all, but are only adhering to their own personal agendas. Maybe the reason why we're still togehter is that there's no language about "states rights" and the country has just had to f#$&g well live with that!

The language laws are the most interesting. It's the kind of "fine print" issue that nobody looks much at, at the time; and it's snuck in without much comment, but down the road it could turn into the biggest pain in the rear of all.

Article 2:

...4:

b. The language used orally in offical institutions such as the Parliament and the Cabinet as well as official conventions should be one of the 2 languages (Arabic or Kurdish).

c. Recognising the offical documents in the 2 languages.

d. Opening the schools with 2 languages.

Right now, in the U.S, bilingual education is an explosive issue in areas such as California, Florida and other places where Spanish-speakers have displaced whites as the dominamt polulation demographic. There is heavy pressue by Republican governors and educators, and even some Democrats, to outlaw bilingual education in the primnary schools and replace it with English-only instruction. Here, it is a mere academic issue; an issue of whether or not having students learn in English helps them to assimilate into American society and move up the educational and income ladder faster. Those who are for it, argue that students learn faster if they have a right to use their home language in schools.

In Iraq, this would be a different story. The prohibition of certain languages from schools and government places could turn into a nationalistic issue...esp if a territory has voted itself into a "region." I am sure that there would be many ethnic Turks (I assume these are the "Turkomens") who would object (to put it mildly) at Turkish being benend from the schools and the halls of power. The step to assimilation is a kind of cultural genocide by the ruling powers at destroying "inferior languages" of others. The Irish in 19th-century Ireland knew this well, even before the Famine. Hence, the "hedge-row teachers" back then; and hence, the new law that road signs in non-"touristy" areas shoulld be in Gaelic only.Even though there is no immindent threatof national breakup (as there may have been during the Famine), 150 yrs later it is STILL an important enough issue to merit such a law. And consider what is happening to Welsh. In a few yrs, Welsh will dosppear as a spoken language. And that's the end of Wales as a politcal entity, isn't it? As for Scotland..it's east to think of it is "part of Britain" b/c nobody speaks Gaelic in Scotland anymore.


Language is not just the spoken tongue; it is the preserver of cultural identity. The national history of stories, poems, songs,etc is a part of this. Kill the language and you kill the culture; and thus, your grandchildren's identity as being the same thing you are.

Make Turkish outlawed outside the home in Kurdistan, (or Armenian anywhere else in Iraq, for example--every System of a Down fan knows that a sizeable percentage of the Christian population is of that ethnic group) and efventually, children would nolt be taught in lessons that there were ever Turks or Kurds or any other group ever inhabited that stretch of land. Therefore, any claim to territory could be disputed a few generations down the line. This sounds reidiculous, but consdier the explosive issue of Kurdish-language TV stations fomenting the activities of the PKK. Language is the catalyist from which all popular movments spring.

As for the halls of power, banning, say, Turkish or English is follw...I suppose English is exempted from this law? But as any call center operator in Banglaore can tel you, slaving away for $500 a month, it is VERY imporant. I'm sure English is not on the list. It;s the language of business too.

As as for women's rights....the 25% law is transitional..this is "transitional".....a disaster.
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