Tuesday, August 16, 2005

MEMRI: The Draft Iraqi Constitution at a Deadlock

August 16, 2005


Pending Critical Issues

Mundhir al-Fadhil, a constitutional lawyer (an Arab but a member of the Kurdish parliamentary faction) and a member of the drafting committee has identified eighteen issues over which there was different degrees of disagreement between the three major ethnic groups in Iraq—the Shi'a, the Sunnis and the Kurds. For each of the issues there are two or more optional resolutions. The following is a listing of the issues, their underlying options and what was adopted for consideration by the National Assembly on August 15:

1. The Title of the Republic (five options)

  1. The Federal Republic of Iraq
  2. The Iraqi Federal Republic
  3. The Iraqi Islamic Federal Republic
  4. The Iraqi Republic
  5. The Republic of Iraq

2. Religion (three options)

a. Islam is the religion of the state and one of the sources of legislation. There shall be no law that contradicts general principles of Islam.

b. Islam is a fundamental source of legislation and no legislation should contradict it.

c. The religion is the fundamental source of legislation… The constitution shall protect the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and its majority of Shi'a and Sunnis.

3. The Structure of the Iraqi People (three options)

a. The Iraqi people is made up of two principal nationalities – Arabs and Kurds, and other key nationalities including Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians and others.

b. The Iraqi people are made up of principal nationalities – Arabs and Kurds and other key nationalities. (One of these other nationalities was Persians which enormous controversy in Iraq. As far as one knows the "the Persian nationality" was expunged from the draft constitution).

c. The Iraqi people is made up of a number of nationalities, religions and sects) without dwelling on the details.

4. Language (two options)

  1. The Arabic and Kurdish languages are the two official languages of Iraq
  2. Arabic is the official language of the Iraqi state. The Kurdish language will be the other official language in the province of Kurdistan and in the federal government

5. The Identity of Iraq (five options)

  1. No mention of identity
  2. Iraq is a multi-national and the Arab people is an integral part of the Arab nation
  3. The Iraqi state is a founding member in the Arab League and the Islamic Conference
  4. The Iraqi state is part of the Arab and Islamic worlds
  5. The Iraqi state is part of its Arab and Islamic environment

6 and 7 deal with the marja'iya (the Shi'ite religious authority) and the Shi'ite holy sites. (Indications are that they will be deleted from the final document.)

8. The President of the Republic: One or two vice presidents or no vice president

9. The Ministers: The issue is whether they should be members or non-members of the national assembly

10. Natural Resources (three options)

  1. The natural resources are owned by the province which will share them with the federal government
  2. The natural resources are owned by the people. They will be managed by the federal government which will allocate a share of them to the province where they are found (e.g. oil in Kirkuk or oil in the southern provinces)
  3. The state will manage the natural resources in collaboration with the provinces which will receive a share of them

11. Domestic Relations (two options)

  1. A single domestic law across Iraq save those who follow other religions
  2. The followers of every religion are free to choose their domestic relations law in accordance with their beliefs

12. Voluntary Federalism and the Right for Self Determination (two options)

  1. Include a statement to that effect in the constitution
  2. Underscore the unity of Iraqi territory and people

13. Executive Authority: The President or the Prime Minister

14. Dual Nationality (three options)

  1. Permitted
  2. Not permitted
  3. Not permitted for those holding senior state positions
  4. (It was noted that the Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari and five of his ministers, including his deputy Ahmad Chalabi have a dual nationality.) [4]