Constitutional Delay, Round 2

Three more days.

Iraq’s constitutional committee has moved the draft out of committee and submitted it to the National Assembly. Omar from Iraq the Model provides the details of the day’s events. The Assembly deferred a vote for three days to gain further consensus, and again followed the proper procedure according to Transitional Administrative Law (TAL).

“The Assembly has received the draft from the CDC but because there is a number of issues that still need further discussion and in accordance with clause 61-f of the TAL, voting will be postponed for another 3 days until the leaders of political blocks can reach accord on the few remaining disputed issues” said Hachim Al-Hasani chairman of the Assembly.

Apparently they think that it is in the best of the process to have accord among all the political blocks.

There are positive and negatives in the extension. The easiest path for the supporters of the draft constitition to have taken would have been to take this draft and ram it down the throats of the dissenting parties, as the Shiite and Kurdish coalition maintains a majority of the votes needed to pass it. The Assembly and individual leadership of the various parties understand the import of reaching an agreement. The law has been followed to the letter. The Iraqi people are watching their elected government negotiate in a democratic fashion. And the US is being perceived by Sunni leaders as playing a positive role in assuring consensus is reached.

“Zalmay [Khalilzad, US Ambassador to Iraq] is the boss,” said Saleh Mutlak, a leading Sunni member of the drafting committee, before tonight’s delay. “He’s played a very good role slowing the other parties down, in talking to those who are asking for too much.”

“We are not getting any impression that they are with this side or with that. We feel they are trying to help our side as much as the other side,” said Iyad al-Sammarai, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni political group whose leaders have been arrested by American forces in the past. “I’m sure [the US] has a feeling that if a constitution is approved only by the Shiites and Kurds, they will not get what they want. What they want is stability.”

But the process cannot be extended indefinitely. Consensus must be reached, and reached soon, lest the confidence of the people erode and while the insurgency moves to capitalize on any disagreements. It is imperative an agreement be made within the three day timeframe.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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