Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq Approves Constitution, Despite Sunnis

by PATRICK COCKBURN

in Baghdad

A majority of Iraqis have voted for the new federal constitution, which will divide the country into three regions and weaken central government.

The results, released by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, show that the Sunni Arabs largely voted against the constitution while the Shia and Kurds voted in favour. Overall, 78 per cent of Iraqis voted “yes” and 21 per cent voted “no”.

The Sunni, though only 20 per cent of the population, could still have defeated the referendum if two-thirds of voters in three provinces had voted no. The commission said yesterday that Nineveh–the one province that Sunnis opposed to the constitution had to win decisively–had voted against the constitution, but only by 55 per cent of the votes.

Anbar and Salahudin had earlier overwhelmingly rejected the constitution, with 97 per cent and 82 per cent voting against it respectively.

The United States and Britain as well as the Iraqi government will hope that the outcome will not be seen as a rebuff to the Sunnis, driving them into the arms of the resistance. Last-minute changes to the constitution allow a newly elected National Assembly to amend it by a majority vote next year, though the amendments will have to be voted on in a new referendum and can be vetoed once again by three provinces voting with two-thirds majorities against.

The constitution envisages a federal state in which Kurds and Shias will have important powers and the central government will be weakened. The Kurds will be able to maintain their own army in northern Iraq, local law will override federal law when the two are in conflict and oil developments will come under regional control. Existing oilfields will continue to be under the central government.

Many Sunnis see the constitution as, in effect, marking the break-up of Iraq. But it is unclear how far it will be implemented in the country outside Kurdistan–where the Kurds are already in control. They have no intention of giving up Kirkuk or lands from which they were driven under Saddam Hussein. Many Sunnis will claim that the result of the referendum was fixed but the commission said that it found no cases of violations that would have significantly affected the result. The result in Nineveh was uncertain because there are no clear figures for the breakdown between Sunni Arab, Kurd, Turkoman and Christian in the province.

Mosul itself is mostly Sunni Muslim but it is also a stronghold of the Iraqi Islamic Party, which at the last moment backed the constitution when concessions were made on amending it.

Iraq will now move towards an election on 15 December in which the Sunni Arabs, unlike in the election in January, are likely to participate. But the victors will still be the Kurds and the Shia, which together make up the present government. Although the Kurds are personally hostile to the government of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Prime Minister, they are determined to maintain the Kurdish-Shia alliance. They accuse Mr al-Jaafari of breaking pledges.

The referendum is unlikely to have much impact on the insurgency, which has sufficient support to continue regardless of developments in constitutional politics. On the other hand, the Sunni leadership is even further divided, with part of it wanting to boycott the referendum, some wanting to support the constitution and a majority against but wanting to vote it down.

 

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail