Thoughts on the Iraqi Constitution.
I was really hoping that the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds could all agree on a constitution. However, I think that today's decision to stop negotiating and put the constitution up to a nationwide vote is not only neccessary, but also long overdue. Personally, I think that the conduct of Sunni negotiators over the last few days has been deplorable. They were offered compromises, but decided that they would accept nothing other than a constitution written their way and on their terms.
One of the main sticking points was Federalism. The Shiites and Kurds wanted some power devolved to the various provinces, allowing their ethnic groups some measure of self-determination. The Sunnis, on the other hand, wanted the national government to hold all power. The reason for this was that there is not a whole lot of oil in the Sunni Triangle, and they thought that the other ethnic groups wouldn't let them have any of their oil money. Personally, I don't think that this idea holds a lot of water; federalism would also include a national government which would collect a large portion of Iraqi oil revenue. A lot of this money would probably be spent in Sunni areas. Sunni territory is also very close to Baghdad, where enterprising Sunnis could potentially get good jobs in any number of sectors both related and unrelated to the oil industry.
Is this solution to the constitution problem perfect? No. Does it give Sunnis a fair shake? That remains to be seen. Do I have all the solutions? No. I don't have a clue what went on behind closed doors in Iraq, so I can't even begin to fathom the infinite complexities of this subject. However, I can comment on what I read in the news, and all that I've heard is that Sunni leaders don't want to give up the stranglehold on power that they once enjoyed, and that they aren't terribly comfortable being in the minority. They have realized that democracy does not allow them to have things their way on every issue, so they have resorted to throwing a temper-tantrum in the vain hope that they will get what they want if they just scream loud enough. Sunni negotiators need to shift their focus to ensuring that the constitution gives Sunnis the same rights and protections as other groups, not protecting thier own power at the expense of the rest of Iraq.
Disclaimer: My remarks pertained only to the Sunni LEADERS who are helping draft the constitution, they are not meant as generalizations about the entire Sunni population of Iraq.
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