FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq Approves Constitution, Despite Sunnis

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.

 

More articles by:

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

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS class struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail