Saturday, March 06, 2004

Playing for time

For the last time, some members of the 'venerable' GC are giving Iraqis every reason to be apprehensive and dubious of their motives and agendas for the future of Iraq. Just as the whole of Iraq was impatiently waiting yesterday for the final announcement of the Transitional Adminstrative Law (or the interim constitution as Iraqis like to call it) for long hours, it gets postponed for the umpteenth time, this time until monday. Hamid Kifa'i, the GC spokesman, appeared at one point on Al-Iraqiyah TV stating that there was absolutely no disagreement between GC members, that they were just discussing 'technical' difficulties, and inshallah they would be over any time now. The national anthem was played over and over. We waited and waited but there was nothing.

While the Arab media mockingly and spitefully spread the news of this (un)expected development, Iraqis were scratching their heads in confusion. All sorts of rumours and conspiracy theories creeped over Baghdad filling in the empty spaces. Some people said that some of the Shi'ite groups on the council (SCIRI, Da'wa, INC) totally rejected the notion of a Sunni president. This was in accordance with earlier rumours that the American adminstration had decided that the presidential council of the future National Transitional Council would be comprised of a Sunni president, with two vice presidents, a Kurd and a Shi'ite. Of course this was never actually mentioned in the draft of the law, but the people promoting this interpretation explained that the US would never allow a Shi'ite president because he would be completely influenced by the Hawza and the Shi'ite marji'iyah.

Others mentioned that Sistani advised the GC to modify some points in the draft and to specifically state that "no future legislation in the country should contradict Islamic law", and also in regard to the representation of women in the government, Sistani had reservations on the draft mentioning an exact 25-40% percentage, allegedly saying that was 'unacceptable'. No official confirmation or denial of these rumours has yet come out from Sistani's agents. Another point of disagreement was on the joint Kurdish Sunni proposition that "two thirds of the voters of any three governorates could suspend the future constitution and resubmit it for revision" as a measure to protect minorities rights in the future government. Shi'ite groups reportedly objected to this addition. The 5 dissident members, according to some sources in the GC, were Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, Ibrahim Al-Ja'ffari, Muwafaq Al-Rubai'i, Mohammed Bahr Al-Uloom, and Ahmed Al-Chalabi. They did not attend the GC meeting yesterday and were in Najaf consulting with Sistani.

Foreign minister, Zibari, stated that it was very regretful that a minority in the GC would later change it's opinion after reaching a final agreement last sunday, and he advised Iraqis to be aware that foreign countries (alluding to our neighbours) were trying to abort the interim law.

Now, the whole situation looks embarrassingly ridiculous considering the deadline for finally approving the Transitional Law was almost a week ago, and this only serves to prove the stereotypical image of Iraqis that can never agree on anything. And, to tell the truth, most Iraqis were immensely surprised after reading the details of the law draft, it just seemed too good to be true.

Now the main point is that while we do appreciate the significant difficulties GC members must be facing everyday, they had plenty of time to go over the controversial issues in the law draft during the last few days since it was first announced instead of publicity stunts at Karbala and shuttle visits to Najaf to meet with Shi'ite clerics. Another point is that I hope Iraqis can now see clearly through some of the pretentious GC members, members that have made it clear that they show allegiance and loyalty to their respective sects and ethnicities (or in a couple of cases to neighbouring countries) over Iraq. And that when the time comes for voting in ballot boxes those members will be ruled out. I have faith in the insight and wisdom of Iraqis. They will never allow another despot to take over their lives and futures. Never again.

Maybe some of those members know that fact only too well, and realizing that their role is about to be over very soon they are just playing for time? Food for thought.