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The very factors that have postponed the drafting of a final constitution in Iraq are the differences amongst the members of the Iraqi parliament. The first of these disputable issues are the country”s rights to national wealth such as petroleum, minerals and water. Also disputed is the fact that oil revenues must be directed towards the state”s treasury, as practiced everywhere except in the United States. Even in the U.S, the government sets taxes depending on its needs for revenues as a central authority that is responsible for fifty states. As for limiting the country”s central authority, I do not believe that there should be major dispute surrounding this matter, as long as it is agreed that the supreme law of the government is what controls the army, security, foreign relations, and supreme courts as well internal affairs. Some freedom, however, should be given to the governorates of the regions in dealing with their internal matters.

Central authority in the modern federal state of Germany is responsible for minor issues such as setting the speed limits of all main roads but not for all roads. The central authority is also responsible for setting out the national curriculum but not for determining where specific teachers teach, as such a matter may be left for local officials to decide. The central authority is also responsible for the composition of medicine but not for its distribution. Therefore, theoretically speaking, and according to history, federal governments differ depending on the country as much as central governments do.

The Sunni Muslims of Iraq have made serious mistakes, the most grave of which was their boycott of the elections. They are now paying the price for this, and their leaders have suddenly realized that political participation and elections are important. Today, the Kurds and Shiites are committing the same mistakes as they are denying the Sunnis their constitutional reassurances. They are transforming grand Iraq into smaller marginalized countries when they could be creating a larger and unified state.

The paradox of the situation is not only has constitutional dispute caused disagreements between Sunnis and Shiites, and Arabs and Kurds but has also antagonized individuals within these groups against each other. I cannot determine the differences between the religious Sunnis or Shiites as the constitution is not being drafted to solve any jurisprudential or historical issues. In fact, both religious sects oppose groups, which call for the religious ruling of a country in which the practice of different religions is widespread. The tacit dispute remains between those who call for a theocratic state ruled by religious figures and others who argue for a civil state. Such a dispute is demonstrated clearly by Sheikh Adnan Al-Dulaimy and Dr. Adnan Pachachi who are both Sunnis.

Constitutional differences will appear on the surface concerning the role of religious groups who already have their predetermined objections to everything and as a result, residents of the southern regions have expressed their anger towards them. This will be more apparent when laws are finally applied. As for the current disputes concerning the constitution, such disagreements are only preliminary and will fade out as the application of laws moves in.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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