"The major sticking points — the role of Islam in determining Iraqi law, issues of self-rule and regional autonomy, and the sharing of oil revenue in a federal context — put the goal of consensus beyond the reach of the governing coalition of Kurds and Shiites and the Sunni Arab minority. Yet a short delay while working on key disputes is far better than ramrodding through the National Assembly a constitution that would elevate clerical leadership to a political role in a future Iraqi society, and that would disadvantage women, especially in the area of family law" Fred Hiatt of the WashPost
A number of correspondents in Baghdad (where they mostly are) have commented since the delay was announced yesterday on the seriousness of this evidence of discord within the Iraqi "nation." The Washington Post editorial page evidently does not share this view. Too bad!
What the media corps in Baghdad is trying to tell people is that except for issues of government structure (1 president, 1 parliament, etc.) THERE IS NO AGREEMENT among the delegates to the constitutional convention in Baghdad on anything of real substance.
Why is that? Aren’t they all IRAQIS?
No, they are not, not in the sense that those who ask that question mean. Just about all of them will tell you that they are "all Iraqis together." Such responses are a natural reaction to the potentially dangerous questions of outsiders, but we are supposed to be smarter than to accept such statements at face value. It is true that there are and have been a fairly large class of people in Iraq who became over the decades since independence in the 20’s Iraqi nationalists. For these people community differences are less important than for the majority and for them, personal or community interests "rank" far below national interests, but they are and were always a minority, if a substantial one. Mr. Samara’i, a Sunni Arab, comes to mind. He describes himself as a "Sushi" because he is a Sunni and his wife is a Shia. There are many such. Unfortunately for their present influence on the process of government, most such people belonged either to the Baath Party (a secular Arab nationalist party) or to some similar group. In the presence of Shia religious party majorities in the political process, the effect of such people is minimal.
The majority of Iraqis are still more self-identifying with personal, clan, tribal and ethno-religious group interests than ahything else.
The Kurds are desparate to keep themselves as saparate as they can from Arab Iraq.
The religious Shia are busily trying to consolidate their power over as much of Iraq as they can while they still have American troop "cover" for their actions. If they can’t do that then they have shown their intention to establish a separate "autonomous" zone in the south.
The nationalist Sunni Arab guerillas and tribals remain insistent on "national unity," but they and their secular friends in the other communities were always the main defenders of "Iraq" as an idea.
The Zarqawi led international Jihadis are in a separate category. They are fighting their own war for their own goals and have little to do with the Iraq political process.
TEN DAYS? I just heard NBC in Baghdad say that there are 50 major issues unresolved.
WHY? Simple. Iraq was a post-colonial "work in progress" in terms of "nation building" when we invaded it. It was a "jar of worms" in terms of having a sense of nationhood. We unscrewed the lid on the jar and the worms are crawling around according to their own agenda, not ours.
The geo-strategic geniuses like Zalmai Khalilzad should have know that. He has always been a major advocate for the "creative" use of American power for world improvement. As an Afghan Pushtun and supposed Muslim he should have know better, but he and others did not and now he bears the burden of his own dreams.
"and that would disadvantage women, especially in the area of family law." Excuse me! Family and personal status law are just about invariably the areas of life reserved for Sharia or something close to Sharia law in Arab countries even ones that have mixed law codes (Western and Islamic).
The status of women? I have the disadvantage of having been to Iraq a lot in the "old days." I hasten to add that I went on US government business. I clearly remember the European born wife of an American ambassador telling me in response to my question on this issue that. "the problem modernized Iraqi women have now is that they are expected to do too much. They are expected to have professional careers, be perfect wives and mothers, and be ready to "pick up the slack" when their husbands start running around." I remember that the General Manager of the Rashid Hotel (the best in town) was a good looking, smart, skilled Iraqi woman in her late thirties. There were a lot like her.
Now the Shia majority in the government is going to "improve" her status.
Ten Days? We’ll see..