Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Iraq resolution

It appears the US had to give some to get some in the UN resolution on the interim Iraqi government (IGC 2.0). With elections in November, DoubleAss needed something to point to as an accomplishment, so it had to be done. (If you want to see how that is totally dismissed, and Bush handed a "total victory", see this commenter's post at Political Animal blog.)

Cursor comments on Juan Cole, Middle East historian,

In Juan Cole's view, "that the U.S. and the U.K. had to give away so much to get the resolution shows how weak they are in Iraq." He also said the big winner is Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and the losers are the Kurds, who are threatening to bolt the government. Cole also appeared on PBS' "News Hour," where he said "I don't think anybody in their right mind is going to want to send troops to help out" with Iraq's security situation.

And Juan Cole comments on the situation, including the following about people who are actually affected by the resolution on a less ephemeral basis than looking good at election time:

The resolution did not mention or endorse the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) or interim constitution adopted last February by the Interim Governing Council and based on the notes of Paul Bremer. The Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani had written Kofi Annan forbidding the UN from endorsing the TAL, on the grounds that it was illegitimate and contained provisions harmful to majority rule.

The Kurds on the other hand were absolutely furious that the UN did not mention the TAL, which they see as their safeguard against a tyranny of the Arab majority. It stipulates that the status quo will obtain in Kurdistan until an elected parliament crafts a permanent constitution next year this time, and that the three Kurdish provinces will have a veto over that new constitution if they do not like it. The Kurdish leaders threatened in a letter to President Bush on Sunday to boycott the elections this coming winter if there is any move to curtail their sovereignty or to rescind or amend the interim constitution. Ash-Sharq al-Awsat's Shirzad Abdul Rahman reports today that the Kurdish street is anxious about the future, feeling that it has been left up in the air.

There are some real problems with this, and I don't pretend to recognize any detail. But I do understand that the Kurds in the North of Iraq are a very sensitive concern that includes relations with Turkey as well. If there is an uprising in the area, it will surely involve Turkey in that country's ongoing attempts to put down independence bids by its Kurdish territory. Now, in our fragile relations with Turkey, how would we have to alter our lip service to freedom and democracy in that event?

It's much too much for me. But Cole, in this post, has an analysis of Sistani's position, and concludes:

Sistani is not a secularist by any stretch of the imagination. If he gets what he wants, religious law will have a vast influence on Iraqi society and politics, and women's rights will be rolled back. The ayatollahs in Iraq will have as big a megaphone as the Catholic bishops did in 1950s Ireland.

On the other hand, Sistani is not a dictator or a Khomeinist. He is much more analogous to Jerry Falwell in the US-- a major religious voice who wants to move the society in a certain direction through weakening the separation of religion and state, without himself seeking political office.

Well, that's a really encouraging thought. When I get to Hell, I'm going to lobby to sit right beside whoever it was that thought up religion in the first place and make the son-of-a-bitch sorry he ever died.