Iraq: March 1, 2004

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: The 25 members of the Governing Council finally reached agreement on an interim constitution. This was necessary for there to be a transfer of power, as promised by the coalition, on July 1st. This agreement is a temporary constitution that will be replaced, in a year, by a permanent constitution. There were compromises on the role of Islam (it is respected, but not the sole source of law) and the extent of Kurdish federalism (details have been put off). There is a bill of rights, which includes freedom of speech, freedom of religion, more rights (than is usual in the Middle East) for women and civilian control of the military. Making the compromises necessary to achieve this deal was a major achievement for Iraqi members of the governing council, who represented all the major factions in Iraq. It will take a lot more of this kind of compromise and deal making to install and operate a working democracy.

Heres a flash-forward to the summer of 2004: On February 28 key members of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) met with the Italian ambassador to Iraq to discuss the rebuilding and reconstruction process. Italian companies operating in Iraq were the specific topic. Why is this a flash-forward? The IGC is getting its feet wet diplomatically and beginning to run its own foreign policy. No, this isnt the first instance of this kind of experimental political action by the IGC, but this particular meeting ended with both the IGC and Italy emphasizing the need to further strengthen bilateral relations. This kind of political maturation is key to winning the war in Iraq. (Austin Bay)

 

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