Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has called for the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution in an objective manner that grants the central government greater authority over local governments, stating in the process that the Iraqi constitution was ‘conceivably written in an atmosphere of fear’.
It is common knowledge that the ratification of the Iraqi Constitution in 2005 was met with a wave of criticism, both internally and externally. It would seem that this fear which the Prime Minister spoke of is a common one for the Iraqi people, reflecting the lack of trust between them.
But Al Maliki’s request for changes to the Iraqi Constitution suggests that there will be a forthcoming confrontation between the Kurds and the Baghdad government, a confrontation which has often been threatened. Moreover, Al Maliki’s demands have renewed fears that the Prime Minister will become a new Saddam Hussein.
So, is opposition to Al Maliki’s request to re-write the Iraqi Constitution what’s required right now?
I think not, and this is the crux of the matter, the entire Iraqi political system must be reviewed and evaluated in full. The constitution must be re-written to prevent sectarian divisions, as well as to prevent Iraq becoming a tool to be used by Iran or others. This is especially important since we have heard justified worries regarding the possibility of a coup, or the outbreak of a civil war, following an American withdrawal from Iraq.
One of the most important issues that must be re-examined in Iraq today are the detestable sectarian factors which pursue ideological goals at the expense of goals that serve the people and nation of Iraq, and one of the leading reasons for this are the Iraqi political parties themselves. It makes no sense for a country comprised of 18 provinces to have 401 political parties, and according to Qasim Al Aboudi the head of the Electoral Administration in Iraq, most of these groups are established based on religious foundations. There is the Shiite alliance, the Sunni bloc, and with regards to racial identity the Kurdish bloc as well, not to mention the armed religious and non-religious groups.
Therefore the composition of political parties themselves must be re-examined, and it is necessary to return to a two-party political model with individuals having the right to run for office as independents. Two parties founded on political tenets, and not along the lines of ethnicity or religious sect or ideology. Two parties that will ensure a peaceful sharing of power between them, both with regards to the Presidency and the Parliament, two parties whose motivations will be to serve Iraq and the people of Iraq, not groups or religious sects, or even neighboring countries for that matter.
Iraq desperately needs to take responsibility for its political system, and rationalize it. For what we see today is nothing more than the integration of religion and arms, which puts the whole country at risk of a devastating civil war, which is inevitable unless Iraqi politicians stand up and be counted with regards to the interests of their country. Iraq is for all Iraqis, not just to observers of a specific religion or sect, and it must not become a totalitarian state.
Therefore what is needed today is not the opposition of Nouri Al Maliki, but rather the tackling of much greater questions; what changes are needed in Iraq? Are they only changes within the Constitution? I think it is imperative that any changes made in Iraq must include changes to the political system, particularly with regards to the composition of political parties.