Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It looks like the home of the Tower of Babel will continue to exhibit God’s scattering of the clans of men.

The good news is Iraq's parliament approved a draft constitution. The bad news is Sunni Arabs and radical Shia leaders vowed to defeat it in a referendum on October 15. Iraq needs a constitution before it can get on with the business of self government. To give a little sympathy (don’t faint), Arabs do not have much experience with this sort of thing. There is virtually no democracy in Arab lands. Iraq once had a democracy, but it was short lived.

The problem is really not the vote. The problem is, Arabs tend to voice their disapproval with bombs and guns. Look for a spate of killing by Sunnis. One thing you learn about Islam: Sunnis And Shias are almost as willing to kill each other over disagreements as kill Westerners.

There are two big problems for the Sunnis. First is a clause that prevents formerly high-ranking members of the Ba'ath party from holding public office. Most of the Ba’athists are Sunnis as well as Fascists. The second is the provision creating a semi-autonomous zones in the Shia south. Again a little sympathy is in order. The USA fought a war over allowing a little region in the South to have autonomy in their government, despite there being no constitutional ban on it. The Sunnis are also smart enough to realize that region the would be a natural ally of Shia dominated Iran.

Finally, the Sunnis want the constitution to uphold Iraq's Arab identity. The Kurds do not accept that, of course. There are other nationalities in Iraq also, but they do not have a sufficient voice to matter. This would be the same as our passing a constitutional amendment that America is a white, Christian nation. Except that would cause the world to howl, and an Arab declaration would not.
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