Monday, August 15, 2005

Crawford, We Have A Constitution

The Associated Press is reporting that a draft of the Iraqi constitution has been completed on time and will be put before the full National Assembly for a vote - sort of. Early reports indicate that there are two outstanding issues that remain unresolved, and that these issues will be put to a vote in the National Assembly. It is not entirely clear which issues are the big two, but there is some unverified reporting on the matter:

Nasar al-Rubaie, a member of the committee drafting the constitution, said the document would be handed over to the 275-member National Assembly late Monday for a decision on the two unresolved issues. He said those issues were women's rights and self-determination, a Kurdish demand for more autonomy and the right to secede someday.

Jalaldin al-Saghir, a Shiite member of parliament, confirmed agreement had been reached but refused to identify the two remaining issues.

"An agreement has been reached on the constitution and it was signed and it will be handed to parliament," he said. "There are two points that the National Assembly will have to solve." [emph. added]
Details regarding the other major issues (federalism, the role of Islam more broadly, control of oil assets, etc) have not been released at this early stage.

One thought on placing the two outstanding issues up for a vote before the National Assembly: if the issues identified by Nasar al-Rubaie are indeed the two issues in question, and their ultimate fate will be decided by a simple majority in the National Assembly, then they will most likely result in a curtailment of women's rights and little to no Kurdish self-determination since the National Assembly is comprised of a majority of Shiites, and then, leaning toward the religious side of the spectrum who would predictably vote in unison or near enough. If any disposition of these issues will require a super-majority of two thirds of the National Assembly (as the constitution itself requires), then the ultimate settlement of these issues could require a protracted period of negotiation as the same players will be pulling in the same familiar directions to the same predictable deadlock - at least in terms of Kurdish self-determination.

Not to mention the possibility that this draft is vague concerning the other flash points that were causing the stalemate. In other words, this is a positive development, but much work lies ahead. Unless you're on vacation in Crawford.

[UPDATE: Crawford, We Have An...Extension? Contrary to earlier reports picked up by certain over-eager bloggers, Reuters is reporting:

Iraq's parliament voted on Monday to extend a deadline for negotiators to present a draft constitution by one week to August 22.

With just 20 minutes left before the expiry of a midnight deadline, lawmakers voted by the required three-quarters majority for the motion from the speaker. Negotiators from rival sectarian and ethnic communities had asked for 10 days more.
I will withhold further comment until the situation becomes clearer (H/T to Nadezhda).]

(cross posted at LAT)



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