Even before the official result of the ballot count is due to be announced, it seams quite clear that the outcome of this constitutional referendum has been preordained to be an unequivocal yes by the majority of Iraqis except of course those areas where the Arab Sunni population so overwhelmingly outnumber any other sect that any suggestion of a ‘Yes’ vote would be so absurd as to be laughable.
It seams that the current Kurdish / Shia’t government, backed by the US administration, have managed to achieve a substantial coup in convincing the world that they have run an honest and legitimate vote count in order to pass this draft constitution. The fact that the average Iraqi is mind boggled by the 70+% ‘Yes’ acceptance in majority held Sunni Dyala and Niniveh provinces is considered neither here or there to the Iraqi government or the American administration.
Now before you go on about how Sunnis are not all one voting block or how the last minute concessions and amendments had convinced the Sunni Islamic Party to make a last minute announcement that they in fact were calling on their members to vote ‘Yes’ for the ratification, and how that would explain the change of heart of the Muslawi (Ninivan’s) or Dyalan’s to all of a sudden change tack and overwhelmingly vote 70+% to ratify, Let me clarify some a few facts.
1- Contrary to what the press wants you to believe the Islamic Party represents a very small percentage of the Sunni population and unlike the situation with the southern Shia’t religious Hamza (religious authority) of Nagaf and Karbala, there is no obligation on Sunnis to follow Fatwas or Edicts of the religious clerics like the Shia’t do every time Sistani press office decides to issue one in his name.
2- The Niniveh province, with its population of nearly 1.5 million mostly Arab Sunni and Turkmen Sunni, both fiercely apposed to the government and American occupation, has seen substantial military activity these last few months, the latest of which is at Tel-A3far city west of Musol. Now, the government wants you to seriously believe that this very troubled city with alls its past year’s anti American sentiment would conceivably vote overwhelmingly for the ratification of this constitution. (I don’t think so.)
3- Everyone seams to be praising the substantial Sunni participation and how that somehow means they have finally decided to drop arms and join in the democratic process. The fact is, whether you believe me or not, is that Sunnis overwhelmingly came out to vote in fear of the ratification and the increasing alienation that they feel in Iraq. The fact that it was largely peaceful on the day is not due to Iraqi security force operations, but due to the fact that the Sunnis paramilitary wings urged by the political organizations held off any attacks on the day to make sure that as many of their population would vote against the constitution being ratified. The fact that the government seams to have assassinated this much hyped political and democratic process by forging the results will not go unnoticed by the Sunnis or their paramilitary groups.
Where does this leave the political process in Iraq?
Many of the comments I have read over the past two days exalt this referendum as some kind of victory and major step forward to the country. Many commentators keep referring to the imminent passing of the constitutions, and the rights that it may or may not provide to the average Iraqi citizen, as a major victory or validation to the American efforts in Iraq, as if it is a document sent down from God, set in stone and impossible to abuse. They seem to believe that somehow the passing of this document is like the magic pill which will cure all of Iraq’s woes. The fact of the matter is that this document, like many of Iraq’s constitutional documents of yesteryear, is only as valuable as what the people make of it. It derives its power from the people and for the people. That is its magic. Otherwise its no better nor more valuable than the paper it is printed on. Tyrants and dictators will always find a way to make pieces of paper irrelevant, all it takes is the right political climate and enough guns.
For me, it is the democratic process that will save Iraq and not a ragtag contradictory piece of fantasy literature. Iraqis must be helped to believe in the Democratic process and all that comes with it. Public dialogue, Free Press, Responsible governance, Trusted and honorable police and Law officials, Free fair and transparent elections.
If the Vote comes back as a ‘Yes’ to the constitution, aa most are already hinting, then a huge opportunity will have been lost by both the American and the Iraqi governments to bring piece and reconciliation to Iraq once and for all. The next few days and weeks will witness a Sunni uprising on a scale not seen before and I’m truly fearful from the days to come.
(PS. Just in case you are wondering; No, i'm not Sonni. My Mother kurdish and my father is a Shia Arab originally from the southern city of Nasarya. I was born and raised in Baghdad and i currently live in the UK).