by Enver Masud / The Wisdom Fund –
(September 16, 2003) — Israel doesn’t have a written constitution. The British do not have a written constitution. The US constitution provided few benefits for the majority of Americans for over 150 years. So why must the Iraqis wait for a new constitution before the US occupation force transfers power to them?
Iraq’s original constitution, together with the Quran and the widely misunderstood Shariah (Islamic law), provide a reasonable basis for Iraqi self-rule.
Israel, touted as the region’s sole democracy, has not had a written constitution since its founding in 1948. Its political system is based upon its Declaration of Independence and “Basic Laws” developed over a period of 44 years. These are:
Declaration of Independence (1948), Law of Return (1950), World Zionist Organization — Jewish Agency (Status) Law Basic Laws: The Knesset (1958); Israel Lands (1960); The President of the State (1964); The Government (1968); The State Economy (1975); Israel Defense Forces (1976); Jerusalem, Capital of Israel (1980); The Judicature Law (1984); The State Comptroller (1988); Human Dignity and Freedom (1992); Freedom of Occupation (1992)
The British Constitution is also unwritten. It has two basic principles: the Rule of Law and the Supremacy of Parliament. It is derived from a variety of sources. The primary ones are:
Statutes such as the Magna Carta of 1215 and the Act of Settlement of 1701 Laws and Customs of Parliament; political conventions Case law — constitutional matters decided in a court of law Constitutional experts who have written on the subject
The US has a written constitution that was first drafted and approved in 1787. Over the next four years ten amendments, and a Bill of Rights, were approved. However, under this constitution, women, whites who did not own property, African Americans, and other minorities had no voting rights.
It took another 60 years before most white Americans were granted voting rights. Women were granted the right to vote in 1870. African Americans were still fighting for the right to vote as recently as 45 years ago which, while granted by law, was denied to them in a variety of ways.
Iraq had a written constitution. We understand that prior to the US invasion of Iraq a task force of Iraqi expatriates, formed by the US Department of State, concluded that it would be a relatively simple matter to delete the presidential decrees issued by President Saddam Hussein and thereby restore the original Iraqi constitution.
This constitution, we understand, is based upon the Egyptian constitution, which itself is based upon the French constitution. Under their original constitution Iraqi’s enjoyed a high standard of living, women’s rights, and the highest literacy rate among the Arabs.
Isam al-Khafaji, one of 140 Iraqis on the council formed by the US to help with the postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation resigned in protest. “I feared my role with the reconstruction council was sliding from what I had originally envisioned — working with allies in a democratic fashion — to collaborating with occupying forces,” he said.
Noah Feldman, a professor at New York University Law School was appointed to the US Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance as an adviser on framing a new constitution. “He’s got substance in both an Islamic background and in practical constitutionalism,” said David H. Souter, the Supreme Court justice for whom Professor Feldman had been a law clerk. His book, After Jihad: America and The Struggle for Islamic Democracy, is a thoughtful examination of Islam and democracy. Mr. Feldman resigned two months later.
ISLAMIC LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Properly interpreted, the Quran and Shariah, provide the principles for creating a just society. Democracy, human rights, the separation of “Church” and State, the rights of minorities, etc. were all recognized by Islam from its very beginning in the early 7th century, C.E.
In a major speech His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, stated:
Islamic countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Syria gave women the vote as early as Europe did its women — and much earlier than in Switzerland! In those countries women have long enjoyed equal pay, and the opportunity to play a full working role in their societies. The rights of Muslim women to property and inheritance, to some protection if divorced, and to the conducting of business, were rights prescribed by the Quran 1200 years ago, even if they were not everywhere translated into practice. In Britain at least, some of these rights were novel even to my grandmother’s generation!
Two of the largest Muslim countries, Indonesia with a population of 231 million, and Bangladesh with a population of 133 million, are led by women.
As for separation of Church and state, centuries before the Europeans, Islamic jurists recognized a conceptual separation — Islam has no “Church”, i.e. an hierarchy of priests, bishops, etc. Islamic jurists divided the Shariah into two categories: religious observances and worldly matters. The first was beyond the scope of modification. The second which covered criminal law, family law, and transactions was deemed subject to interpretation.
As for democracy, reported the London based Impact International monthly, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan), stressed time and again that there was no need to borrow the concept or practice of democracy from others because Muslims had learnt democracy 1300 years ago. Mr. Jinnah believed that as the Prophet signed pacts with the Christians, Jews and other minorities in Madinahal-Munnawwarah, minorities would enjoy equal rights in Muslim countries.
Replying to a question whether Pakistan would be a secular or theocratic state, the Quaid rebuked: “You are asking me a question that is absurd. What I have already said is like throwing water on a duck’s back. When you talk of democracy, I am afraid you have not studied Islam. We learned democracy 13 centuries ago.”
Of course, as in many non-Muslim countries, neither their faith nor the constitution were sufficient to prevent Islamic leaders from doing more harm than good.
IRAQI CONSTITUTION A PRETEXT FOR EXPLOITATION
So why must Iraqis wait for a new constitution to secure their independence from the US occupation force? Perhaps the drafting of the constitution is a pretext for exploiting Iraq’s national wealth, and providing oil and water to Israel.
The US is secretly building two giant intelligence facilities in Iraq at a cost of some half a billion dollars, according to a report in Israel’s DEBKA-Net-Weekly intelligence sources. US engineering and construction units are setting up what amounts to an “intelligence city” on a site north of the oil city of Mosul in Kurdistan and a second facility in Baghdad’s Saadun district on the east bank of the Tigris. DEBKA-Net-Weekly military experts infer from the vast dimensions of the two projects and their colossal expense that it is Washington’s intention to retain a large US military presence in Iraq for at least a decade.
Stephen C. Pelletiere, writing in the New York Times, stated, “In the 1990s there was much discussion over the construction of a so-called Peace Pipeline that would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel. No progress has been made on this, largely because of Iraqi intransigence. With Iraq in American hands, of course, all that could change.”
On August 26 Scotland’s national newspaper reported, “The United States has asked Israel to explore reviving a pipeline route pumping oil from Iraq direct to the oil refineries in the Israeli port of Haifa. The office of the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sees the pipeline project as a ‘bonus’ in return for Israel’s backing of the US-led campaign in Iraq, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday.” Iraq can expect the US Agency for International Development, assisted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, to push for a restructuring of Iraq’s economy.
There’s an Assistance Strategy for poorer nations, says Joseph Stiglitz, former Chief Economist of the World Bank. Each nation’s finance minister is handed a “restructuring agreement” pre-drafted for his “voluntary” signature, then, says Stiglitz, the Bank hands every minister the same four-step program.
Step One, writes investigative journalist Gregory Palast, is Privatization (which Stiglitz says could more accurately be called ‘Briberization.’) “You could see their eyes widen” at the prospect of 10% commissions paid to Swiss bank accounts for simply shaving a few billions off the sale price of national assets.
Step Two is Capital Market Liberalization. In theory, capital market deregulation allows investment capital to flow in and out. Unfortunately, as in Indonesia and Brazil, the money simply flowed out and out.
Step Three: Market-Based Pricing, a fancy term for raising prices on food, water and cooking gas.
Step Four is Free Trade.
This is free trade by the rules of the World Trade Organization and World Bank, which Stiglitz likens to the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century in which Great Britain went to war with China to force open its markets, and took Hong Kong as the price for ceasing hostilities.
Enver Masud is the author of The War on Islam, and founder of The Wisdom Fund — www.twf.org © Copyright E Masud 2003 For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement