Update [2005-7-31 14:0:18 by susanhu]: “Iraqi officials consider rationing fuel,” Al Jazeera, July 31, 2005.

You’ve no doubt seen the spate of articles and Sunday talk show discussions on the delayed completion of the Iraqi constitution, including today’s WaPoIraqis Debate Constitution Delay.” Two superb analysts — Juan Cole and Col. Patrick Lang (Ret.) — look at the issues involved:

Juan Cole at his Informed Comment blog: Sunni Arab members of the constitution drafting committee are still rejecting language that would make Iraq a “federal” republic. In practice, this language would formally acknowledge Kurdistan and perhaps Shiite federations of provinces in the south as having a good deal of autonomy and a claim on petroleum revenues from Kirkuk (the Kurds) and Rumaila (the Shiites). The Sunni Arabs do not have a developed petroleum or natural gas field and so would suffer from a federal arrangement that left some of the petroleum income in the provinces rather than having the central government take it all and redistribute it.


Pat Lang at his new blog, Sic Semper Tyrannis: Islamic history reflects the patterns of traditional Islamic social structures and even religious discourse. In all these fields the emphasis is on unity, cohesiveness and consensus. Almost nowhere is there any real value placed on the kind of devolution of power or diversity of opinion, or authority implicit in the Western idea of federalism. […]

The only federal structures that I know of in Arab history are modern and the products of the interaction of British educators and colonial officials with the people of the arabian Peninsula. …

Federalism in Iraq? It is a way station on the path to dissolution on the model of Yugoslavia, and that is the way most Arabs see it.

Meanwhile, Juan Cole summarizes the latest bombings, killing, and kidnappings: “Three employees of Baghdad International Airport, who had been kidnapped, turned up blindfolded and dead.” … “An Iraqi health ministry official, Eman Naji, was kidnapped by gunmen who stormed her home in the capital’s upscale district of Mansour.”

And, the U.S. has established “the first long-term military base” near the Syrian border to prevent foreign terrorists from entering Iraq, reports today’s LA Times. The LAT also mentions that “U.S. military officials have asked the Iraqi government to issue emergency laws that could include a curfew and a travel ban” in Fallujah.

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