I’ve been reading the Italian press on the Iraqi constitution, and some of the smarter commentators point out some things I think we’ve missed. First, there is hardly a country in the region without some language acknowledging Sharia as either “the” or “a major” basis for national legislation. But Iran, for example, says that Allah is the sole source of authority, while the Iraqi constitution says that the people are the only legitimate source of authority. This in itself is a revolutionary event. Big celebrations were under way among Kurds and Shi’ites, when the 3-day holiday was announced. These celebrations included lots of women, happy with the Bill of Rights that guaranteed freedom of religious choice, freedom for minorities, etc. The new constitution makes Iraq a Federal Republic, NOT an “Arab Republic,” which is again revolutionary. And the federal nature of the new republic is revolutionary for the whole region. My favorite newspaper, il Foglio, comments: “All the neighboring countries (Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia) and also more distant ones (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria) have trouble facing the spread of a democratic Iraq, of a Constitution born from true multiparty elections, and now a new innovation has been added: the…decentralization of power.”
So, while I’m still waiting for the final text, I’m feeling a lot better. I think Constitutions matter a lot. In the modern world where judges and lawyers rule, the written law is enormously important.