Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- In an exclusive interview with Asharq al-Awsat, Iraq”s vice president Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir criticized the final draft of the Iraqi constitution and the failure of its agreement by political leaders. He also stated that as well as the Arab Sunnis, Arab Shiites have opposed any version of the constitution that infringes upon Iraq”s unity.
Al-Yawir stated, "From the beginning, our opinion concerning the constitution has been that it should not reflect the results of past elections that have created a unique situation as a complete sector of the Iraqi people were unable to participate. The results of the elections were intended to be a basis for drafting the constitution. There should be elections to nominate a committee to draft the constitution in order to bring forward representatives for all of Iraq”s divisions."
He added, "We want this constitution to be a permanent feature of Iraq and for every Iraqi, and not to be at the whim of a certain group, religion, or ideology. Rather, it should have a common ground. What really happened was that two groups representing the majority in the National Assembly, the Coalition and the Kurdish Alliance, wrote it. Unfortunately, we have reached the point where there are fundamental disagreements over three or four issues despite ignoring many points. The main points are still pending and we have been unable to reach a conclusion. Despite all the talk, there is a crisis in finalizing these points because we want the constitution to be one of accord and not according to the balances of powers in order to ensure its success."
Al-Yawir pointed out that "there would be a balanced house of representatives if all the Iraqis were to take part in the upcoming elections. Only then will many amendments to the constitution be made with the Iraqi people”s minds free from the concepts of sectarianism, entrenchment, and quotas." He said, "There are many contradictions in this constitution and I do not believe that it will be successful when implemented even if it passes the referendum test."
The Iraqi vice president warned of the federal and provincial system within the Arab region of Iraq and said, "Federalism has many explanations. It is not a specific mould or pattern but could be broad or narrow. I believe that the Kurdistan region is a unique case and has geographic, cultural, and national traits for our Kurdish brothers. However, I find great difficulty in justifying or accepting federations within the Arab regions of Iraq. Iraq can be two federations, Kurdish and Arab. We should not talk about unspecific federations because this might create a state of affairs in large provinces in terms of population and resources and therefore pose a threat to the unity of Iraq”s soil. We need more time to develop our Arab side because it is premature in comparison to Kurdistan. The more time we have the more it is in the interest of the public."
Al-Yawir emphasized that, "What is proposed now is some kind of confederacies and not even federalism which is obvious from the discussions concerning two governorates having the right to unite as one. This removes the national umbrella, consequently posing a great danger to the homeland. Therefore, I raise my hand to all the well-intentioned forces among the country”s nationalists who seek to strengthen the Iraqi identity in a country that protects the dignity of all of its citizens. We should talk only after action and not completely concern ourselves with who belongs to which sect. Yes, we are proud of Arab nationalism but not at the expense of the nationalities of our other Iraqi brothers."
Al-Yawir criticized the practices of the midnight arrests against the citizens, saying, "This does not befit an Iraq that we want to be democratic. It is a dictatorial method and everyone will be brought to account for what they have committed against the people. I personally raised the issue more than three times at the presidential council and with the National Assembly speaker and said that the forces that are carrying out the arrests cannot be impersonators as they arrive in convoys in the middle of the night and during the curfew hours. These are Iraqi police forces. It is unacceptable for the police to be the ones violating the law and igniting sectarian conflict in the country. We asked the prime minister to form a committee that includes members of the presidential council to investigate the matter in accordance to the law, because the orders have been issued by the cabinet to the ministries to stop the midnight arrests."
After calling for a separation between religion and politics, the Iraqi vice president said, "I believe religion is too sacred to be polluted by politics. The religious course should be separate from the politics one. Religion directs the country towards compassion and the welfare of the public while politics involves much planning, maneuvers, prevarications, and compromises and it is inappropriate for it to wear the cloak of religion."
Regarding the Arab League”s demand for an explanation to the remark that "the Arabs in Iraq are part of the Arab people", Al-Yawir highlighted the importance of ignoring such a comment, as it serves no justice for Iraq”s identity. He said, "We say that Iraq is part of the Arab and Muslim world. The world is not a race but a culture, geography, and history. Iraq is an active part of the Arab world."