Monday, August 22, 2005

Kurds & Shiites Agree

An agreement has been reached between the Kurds and Shiites regarding a draft constitution. Not surprisingly, the Sunnis have yet to agree to it since it appears to pave the way for federalism. (Sky News: IRAQ MAY GO FEDERAL). Efforts are underway now to convince the Sunnis to support the draft constitution.

Sunnis have complained in recent days that their views were not being adequately represented in the constitutional discussions. This should come as no surprise to anyone since the Sunnis boycotted the original election process en masse and hence have very little representation in parliament. Now that parliament is drafting the constitution, the Sunnis do not have much clout to press their views.

Perhaps the Sunnis have just learned the most valuable lesson possible in a democracy. If you want your voice to be heard, then you must participate. The Sunni decision to boycott the initial elections made no sense at all at the time. By choosing not to vote, they deferred all decisions to the Shiites and Kurds. Had they voted, they would have greater representation in Parliament and the constitution would likely have a different flavor.

Will they learn from their own mistakes? Not likely. Already we see a struggle in the Sunni Triangle between the general population trying to register to vote and the insurgent groups trying to prevent that registration. They still haven't figured out that their best option is to participate in that vote and use that voice to set policy and direction. The Sunnis are a large enough group that they can have a significant influence on policy. The problem, though, is they don't want to just influence it, they want to drive it. That's not going to happen.

How all of this will end is still largely in doubt. Technically, today's deadline has been satisfied. A draft constitution is available. The next step, though, is ratification in each province. It only takes rejection in 3 provinces to scuttle the constitution and the Sunnis control 4. Without Sunni support in at least 2 of the 4 provinces, the constitution dies and this process starts all over again. Given the wording in the draft constitution, it appears unlikely that the Sunnis will approve it. Time will tell, but I'm not optimistic that the current version will fly.


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