The Iraqi constitution - sectarian attempt to undermine the popular resistance


by Lars Akerhaug

Since more than two years the Iraqi people have launched a political and military struggle against the US & allies´ occupation of their homeland. This occupation has caused a tremendous damage to ordinary Iraqis and the entire society. As many as 129,000 persons are estimated killed. Increasing numbers live below the poverty line. Electricity and water is shortcoming. Still we are told that "US military presence" is necessary to prevent civil war and "chaos" in Iraq.

The claim could hardly be further from truth. The constitution is proposed by the Americans, especially through the hand of ambassador Zalmay Khalizad, who played a central role in the backstage of the constitution draft. But also through the American allies in Iraq, most importantly among them Kurdish PUK and KDP and the Shia communalgroups of Da´wa and SCIRI. In the drafting of the constitution the 71 members of the committee have been reduced to minor actors. Especially this is true of the fifteen Sunni representatives, who were even attempted bribed by five million dollars each (Al-watan, 30.08.05). Even these carefully pre-selected representatives have rejected the constitution, which is a further defeat for the American project to create a pro-occupation establishment in the country.

In the constitution, it is proposed that Iraqi society is supposed to be broken down to federal regions, which with this constitution is supposed to be able to unite themselves voluntarily into federation beyond control of national legislators. The constitution is thus built on the supposed heterogenity of Iraq, a view picturing Iraq not as a nation, but as a number of cantons, and particularly the "sunni-shia-kurd" division picturing Iraq as a society as a country consisting of three "ethnic groups" different altogether. None of them are "ethnic groups. The Kurdish are a distinct nationality to which the right to self-determination must be granted in order to bring create political unity with the Arab Iraqis against imperialism. Shia and Sunni Arabs belong to the same nation. The cultural and confessional differences are much less than suggested by the Western media apparatus while it is mainly a political rift which can be unified by the resistance if they put forward the prospective of popular sovereignty.

The same theory goes hand in hand with picturing the Middle East as a "Middle East of minorities" envisaging the area as without common bonds as the Arabic language and culture. This is also seen in the lack of references to Iraq´s belonging to the Arab Nation.

Further the constitution is a breakdown of any remaining national control of oil resources. In all main accords the constitution follows the neo-liberal path set by Paul Bremer immediately after the occupation began in 2003. There are no remaining formulas about social rights or welfare, about efforts to hinder foreign majority control or to advance Iraqi employment in vital sectors. In fact article 25 states that the state should "guarantee reforming the Iraqi economy on a modern economic platform, in a way that secures full investment of resources from different sources and encourage the development of the private sector". In this respect the constitution is also a final dagger to the social systems and nationalization that before existed in Iraq, and a blueprint also for the US wishes for the rest of the Arab world and globally. This is what "US democracy" looks like: neo-liberal economics through bombs, guns and sectarian chiefs.

By launching this constitution the US and their allies have taken a bold step, which is already being countered by broad forces of Iraqi society opposed to the occupation.

In the constitution, no more than three of Iraq´s regions need to vote no by two thirds of the population to defeat it. Here two important tendencies crystallize: first the broadening of Sunni opposition to the occupation, now even enrolling figures and personalities that before went with the occupation. The constitution makes it impossible also for the ambiguous layers of Sunni society to accept continued occupation. Secondly by throwing out the "federalism" card the US has seriously challenged the popular and resistant streamlines of Shia Iraqi society opposed to the occupation. The "federalist" tendency of Shia society is a minority stream, mainly backed by certain factions of the Iranian regime, who returned back to Iraq protected by US guns. These groups are now meeting increasing opposition from the movement especially led by Muqtada al-Sadr, which refuse the partition of Iraq into cantons and stress the Iraqi Shia belonging to the Iraqi and Arab nation. If this conflict matures it will not only be a serious challenge to the constitution but also in the future the existence of the pro-US shia vanguard of parties like SCIRI and Da´wa.

The Iraqi constitution must be defeated. This constitution is a blueprint for the US wishes for world domination and an example of what the US means when they talk about "Democracy" and "regime change". Therefore defeating the constitution, both by voting NO and continuing the political and military struggle against the occupation is a task that should be adopted not only by Iraqis but also by all in solidarity with the people of the world and against imperialism.

- Down with the Iraqi constitution
- Defend Iraqi sovereignty and unity
- Victory to the Iraqi resistance