13 October 2005

A Great Day Dawns Tommorrow

From the port of Um Qasr to the highlands of Zahko on the Turkish border, the people of Iraq face a historic day. Tommorrow as millions of Iraqi citizens flock to the polling places, they have a choice before them that no Arab state has ever put to its citizens. The representatives of the Iraqi people have written a Constitution, take a second and reread that sentence. The ELECTED representatives of an ARAB state have written a governing document for ALL the people of Iraq. It wasn't written by a King who rules a country named after his family's surname, or a military strongman, or a Orwellian authortarian, the people in Iraq elected the men and women, yes women to write this most sacred of documents for a nation state. There were Sunnis Arabs, and Shiites, Christian Arabs that took part in writing this document, and of course the ethnically separate Kurds, Turkomen and Assyrians, I even believe A Chaldean took part. They spent a hot sweltering Mesopotamian Summer much like our founding fathers did in Philadelphia in 1781, engaged in vociferous debates over the future of the Iraqi state. They engaged in deal making with totally disparate groups in Iraq that in the past they would have never sided with. Compromises were made to be as inclusive as possible, while still being true to what their constituents wanted. Is it a perfect document? No, of course not, but neither was our own Constitution, what it is, is a document that could just hold Iraq together long enough to defeat the forces of al Qaeda while the people forge a bond with each other that goes far beyond what the framers of the Iraqi constitution believed possible.

So how will the vote go down? For the Iraqi Constitution to fail, 3 or more provinces in Iraq will have to vote it down by a 2/3 margin. It could fail, but I believe it won't. To start with Iraq is comprised of 18 provinces, only 3 of which are heavily Sunni Arab (we'll return to these 3 in a minute), the group most likely to vote the document down. 3 of Iraq's provinces are Kurdish and are going to vote overwhelmingly YES. Baghdad being a hodgepodge of all Iraqi religious factions and ethnicities, as well as being the home of the most secular Arabs will also vote yes. 2 provinces, Kirkuk (formerly known as At-Tamim) province and Diyala are not demographically Sunni Arab enough to reach the 2/3's needed to reject the Constitution. The 9 remaining provinces of Iraq are heavily Shia and will overwhelmingly approve the Constitution. So that leaves 3 provinces which could still cause the Constitution to be rejected overall, the provinces are Al-Anbar, Salahdin, and Nineveh province. Al-Anbar which is the heart and soul of the insurgency includes the cities of Fallujah, Ramadi, Haditha, Hit, and Al Qaim, the province is over 90% Sunni Arab and represents the best chance for a province to defeat the referendum. Salahdin province is home to such cities as Tikrit, Samarra, and Bayji and is overwhelmingly Sunni, but with the recent changes that were made to the Amendment process for the Constitution many of the Baathists that may have voted against the process may now be having second thoughts. Right now I say it's 50/50 that 2/3 of the Sunni Arabs will vote NO. Finally we come to Nineveh province, home to Mosul and Tall-Afar. This province is also heavily Sunni Arab, but not to the degree of Al-Anbar or Salahdin. It also is populated by not insignificant groups of Kurds, Turks, and Chaldean Christians. Recently the Coalition forces have taken the fight to the insurgent groups in Nineveh province, and seriously crippled their abilities to effectively influence events within the province. I think Nineveh province is the greatest chance to see a majority of Sunni Arabs vote in favor of the Constitution. For what it's worth, I don't see the Constitution failing, but that's the magic of democracy, we won't know right away, and the people are always in charge.

So, what will passage of the draft Constitution do for Iraq? Well for starters it reinforce the belief among the majority of Iraqis that Democracy works. The Shia and Kurds want this version of the Constitution and with the recent changes it is even palatable to a percentage of Sunni Arabs. It will provide a deathblow to the insurgent forces, primarily to Al Qaeda in Iraq. Zarqawi is the biggest loser in this drama, with defection of some Sunni Arabs from rejectionists to supporters of the draft document the number of people willing to support him and his murderous ideologues will shrink. I don't see him being a spent entity in Iraq, but the success of the referendum will seriously damage his credibility as a formidable force in Iraq. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if Zarqawi doesn't take out his anger on Sunni Arabs for their perceived defection from his camp. Secondly, the passage of this Constitution will further cement the disparate elements of Iraqi society into a more cohesive group. Everyone that votes Yes will understand that as a group, Iraqis can achieve anything they desire. Much as our own Constitution was a glue that bound early American society together, this document will give all of its supporters a stake in a prosperous, peaceful Iraq. Sunni Arabs will finally see that taking part in the democratic process is in their best interests and perhaps a few of the Baathist influenced insurgent groups will lay down their arms and take up the pen instead of the sword. Finally, this will give the fledgling Iraqi govt. momentum going into the December elections for Parliament.

In my own humble opinion the passage of this Constitution will be seen as a watershed moment in the history of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the restoration of Iraq to the community of free nations. The Iraqi people will approve a document that guarantees their rights as a people, that acknowledges their freedoms under the law, acknowledges that Iraq is a federation of various ethnicities and religions, and ensures that women are more free here than in any other Muslim country.

Like I said in the beginning, this is a historic moment not to be thought upon lightly, for me personally my belief in the success of our mission here has been renewed. With that renewal comes the belief that sooner rather than later our victory will be complete and we can return home for good, safe with the knowledge that Iraq is free and prosperous.

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the open post.

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