Monday, May 30, 2005

Thanks, but no thanks 

This isn't actually good news:

The Arab League is ready to send experts to help the Iraqis draft a new constitution, the league's secretary general said Saturday.
Since the region remains the worst in the Freedom House rankings (link in PDF) ("Among the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Israel remains the region’s sole electoral democracy and Free country. There are 5 Partly Free and 12 Not Free states."), I think this is one offer of help that Iraq should politely decline. In fact, if all goes well over the next few months, Iraq might indeed be in position to offer its help to fellow Arab countries on how to draft democratic constitutions.

Update: But this is good news:

Shiite legislators have decided not to push for a greater role for Islam in the new Iraqi constitution out of concern that the contentious issue will inflame religious sentiments and deepen sectarian tensions.

Instead, the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite coalition that won the most seats in January’s elections, will advocate retaining the moderate language of Iraq’s temporary constitution that was drawn up under the auspices of the American occupation authority.

Humam Hamoudi, the Shiite cleric who heads the 55-member constitutional committee that will draft the new document, said that any attempt to debate the issue of Islamic law could ignite a firestorm of competing sectarian demands and that the brief references to Islam in three paragraphs of the temporary constitution should be left untouched.

"These paragraphs represent the middle ground between the secularists and those who want Islamic government, and I think the wisest course of action is to keep them as they are," he said in an interview at his Baghdad home. "Opening up the subject for discussion would provoke religious sentiments in the street."
Looks like the Iraqis might not need much help writing their constitution.


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