Post Referendum Iraq: A Critical Analysis

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According to latest reports Iraq’s voters have approved its proposed constitution in a referendum, held on October 15 with a "Simple Majority". President Bush congratulated Iraqis on the referendum. He also said that the vote today in Iraq is in stark contrast to the attitude, the philosophy and strategy of al-Qaida, their terrorist friends and killers. It is seemed that referendum has badly divided the different entities of Iraq and sectarian divisions has further widened. Earlier it was estimated that the Iraqi constitution would be approved in the referendum by majority votes but in the end it was closer than expected due to which as a precautionary measure the election commissioner ordered to delay the final results.

It was incorporated in the constitution that if three provinces rejected the document by a two-thirds margin, the constitution would be dead and the process would begin all over again. Two provinces of Sunnis dominated population had already rejected the referendum by voting no, overwhelmingly on of which was the native province of former king Saddam. All the eyes focused to the results of Sunnis dominated province "Nineveh", (mixed population) whose voting tally was finally announced on October 25th. Nineveh voted no, but not by enough to reject the constitution, 55% were against it. The document has thus been ratified but it was a narrow escaped.

The widespread insurgency in Iraq is on the rise and continues to bleed America’s army. According to latest reports of Pentagon 2000 US soldiers along with 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians have been killed. The final results of referendum would be instrument in the further server division of Iraqi society on sectarian basis. The majority Shias (60% of Iraq’s population) and Kurds (20%) dominated 14 provinces overwhelming voted in the favour of the referendum. The Sunni (20%) made remarkable efforts to block the referendum but failed to do so. It is predicted that it may be death warrant to their supremacy in the society, politics, administration and the last not the least in business.

The referendum is a crucial step in Iraq’s transition to democracy after two decades of dictatorship under Saddam. The turnout is thought to have varied significantly between provinces but electoral officials have indicated that, overall, more than 63% of the 15.5m registered voters took part. Out of 18 provinces 3 provinces rejected the referendum. Rigging accusations also surround Iraq referendum. result Regional results patterns verify that voters closely and clearly followed sectarian and ethnic lines than the national causes. The Anbar and Salaheddin, Sunnis dominated provinces voted against by 96.9% and 81.75% respectively. In the eight Shiite provinces Basra, Dhi Qar, Karbala, Misan, Najaf, Muthanna and Wasit in excess of 95 percent of voters approved the constitution, and in the two Kurdish provinces of Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk, more than 98 percent voted "yes." In the mixed province of Diyala, just northwest of Baghdad, where Sunnis and Shiites are roughly evenly distributed, the "yes" and "no" votes are running almost neck and neck, with 51.76 percent voting "yes" and 48.24 percent "no". Last-minute changes to the constitution, and the deferral of some key decisions on federalism and oil revenues, the government of Iraq succeeded to make some factions of Sunnis population happy. These tactics of the ruling government succeeded to win the support of the one "Main Sunni Party", which ultimately proved to be decisive in the approval of the referendum.

Statistics of Referendum October 15, 2005 :: Full Results By Province ::

Name of the Province

YES (%)

NO (%)

Anbar

3.04

96.9

Babil

94.56

5.44

Baghdad

77.7

22.3

Basra

96.02

3.98

Dahuk

99.13

0.87

Diyala

51.27

48.73

Irbil

99.36

0.64

Kerbala

96.58

3.42

Kirkuk

62.91

37.09

Maysan

97.79

2.21

Muthanna

98.65

1.35

Najaf 95.

95.82

4.18

Nineveh

44.92

55.08

Qadisiya

96.74

3.32

Salahuddin

18.25

81.75

Sulaimaniya

98.96

1.04

Dhiqar

97.15

2.85

Wasit

95.7

4.3

National total

78.59

21.41

Source: The Election Commissioner Office of Iraq

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ROSPECTS AND CONSTRAINTS

The successful adoption and approval of a federal constitution in Iraq is a notable achievement. But will it help maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq, as it has existed since 1921, an end to violence or flowering of democracy? Only time will tell. Even though the insurgency continues, would the rise of a constitutional state in Iraq inspire democracy elsewhere in the region? Judging by the disparate nature of the multi-ethnic states in the Middle East the answer probably would be, "Not so fast."

The approval of the referendum opens the ways for the first elections to a fully constitutional Iraqi parliament in December 2005. But the main worry to the Iraqi government and the hawks sitting in the President’s Bush regime now is whether that the approval of referendum of October 15 will encourage the Sunnis to participate in the political process and say no to armed struggle and insurgency. The majority of the Sunnis population boycotted the elections in January 2005. But they turned out in much greater numbers for the referendum. Their active participation in the on going political and constitution would enable them to "Amend the Constitution" because a simple majority of deputies can put a constitutional amendment to a referendum. The Sunni leadership must now broadly grasp the truth of the situation. Senseless violence is not going to solve Iraq’s problems, promote the Sunni cause, whatever it is, nor help secure the withdrawal of foreign forces. It also further estimated that the Sunnis are likely to participate in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in December 2005.

Diversified Socio-Economic and Geo-Political Stakes of Sunnis, Shias and Kurds

Sectarian Entities

Stakes

Implications

Sunnis (20 %)25 million

A federal Iraqi state, in which provinces can join together to form regions with their own security forces

End of their long socio-politico supremacy in the society, politics, administration and the last not the least in business

Shias (60%)27 million

Chances of federal government and complete sovereignty. Possible emergence of super region in the south

Rise of their socio-economic and geo-political power and domination

a: Secular Shi’as

Prefer a strong central government

Good relationships with US and allied forces

b: Religious Shias

Religious leaders seem inclined to prepare for the fragmentation of Iraq

Religious leaders provide the security and services that the central government cannot, something the new government will find difficult to reverse.

Kurds (20%)

Greater excess to socio-economic and geo-political benefits

Greater shares in oil’s revenues and economy

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FIRST SCENARIO: THE SUNNIS PARTICIPATION IN THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD

Many political pundits are of the opinions that post-referendum era can create a sensible political articulated Sunni leadership which can positively played their role in the days to come. In the general elections 2005 Kurds turned up in huge numbers at the polling stations whereas most Sunni stayed away. On the referendum day the roles were reversed. Kurds were lukewarm towards a constitution that lacks a provision for an independent Kurdistan in the near future.

SECOND SCENARIO: CONTINUE THEIR PHYSICAL STRUGGLE

If the Sunni leadership rejects the final verdict of the referendum a conflict on ethnic and sectarian lines could destabilize Iraq. The Kurdish-majority north has always been keen to get as much autonomy as it can. If the post-referendum violence aggravates, the extremists in the Kurdish north may then be tempted to make a bid for the region’s independence and opt out of Iraq. Turkey, Iran, and the last not the least Syria has already registered their looming worries about the expected emerging geo-strategic and geo-political changes in post referendum Iraq. Many regional and international experts of political sciences are of the opinions that active participation of the Sunnis in the recent referendum does not show their willingness, faithfulness in the on going political process or facilitating the withdrawal of Anglo-American troops. They actively participated in the referendum just to block it and avert their political death. So chances are very much there to rise in ratios of insurgencies and bloodshed and further divisions of Iraqi society on the lines of sect and faith.

THIRD SCENARIO: FAILURE OF THE GOVERNMENT

If the recent government fails to deliver basic necessities of life and build national institutions, local people and majority of people will have to relay on country’s sectarian leaders. If the new government is unable to reverse dangerous trend, it could lead to the fragmentation of Iraq. That outcome is certainly possible because the constitution leaves the functioning and boundaries of the new federal government uncertain. After the December 2005 elections, the first task of the government will be to establish exactly how it will function, which will only further delay its ability to address the basic needs of Iraqis and push the country further down the path toward civil war.

MALAYSIA’S GOVERNMENT: A MODEL FOR IRAQ SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND GEO-POLITICAL STABILITY

Keeping in view the increasing widening gulf among the different sects of Iraq all the major stakeholders and political experts are of the opinion that people and government of Iraq should consider to have "Malaysian Model", in which each and every minority ethnic groups, has worth in the affairs of the government. "Malaysia has such an outstanding model of power-sharing where minorities feel security, comfort and the last not the least political space of their survival. Malaysia’s ruling National Front coalition is led by a party representing the country’s majority ethnic Malays, but minority Chinese and Indian parties also hold cabinet positions and parliamentary seats.

CONCLUSION

Iraq the "Land of Prophecies" is going towards dangerous zone. Sectarianism and ethnicity will be definitely on the rise. Turkey, Iran and Syria are worried on the approval of the constitution through referendum held on October 15. The efforts and imported vision of democracy in the Middle East by the US and the EU will not gather any storm after the victory of referendum in Iraq. The ratios of insurgencies will be increased and tough time is ahead for the common people of Iraq. The fate of integrity, sovereignty and the functionality of the proposed system of democracy in Iraq largely depend on the positive attitudes of the Sunnis Arabs in the post-referendum Iraq.

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