Freedom Takes a Seat

From Holden:

There will be no more marching for you, Freedom, as the Iraqi constitutional committee disintegrates.

Four Sunni Arabs on the team charged with writing Iraq’s constitution suspended their membership on Wednesday after the killing of three colleagues, a move that could delay the drafting of the landmark charter.

Tuesday’s assassinations struck a blow to the constitution-writing body, seen as providing a chance for a political end to the insurgency, and Wednesday’s move is likely to further hinder its work.

A draft constitution is due by mid-August.


Another official on the constitutional body said all Sunni Arabs — 15 in all — had suspended their membership, but there was no confirmation of that. The committee was due to hold a news conference later on Wednesday.

Drawing Sunni Arabs onto the body was the cornerstone of the U.S.-backed strategy to persuade members of the restive minority to move from the streets into peaceful politics.


There had been hope the committee could produce a document to be pitched to the public in a national referendum in October.

Actually, the dismantling of the constitutional committee is good news for the women of Iraq.

A working draft of Iraq’s new constitution would cede a strong role to Islamic law and could sharply curb women’s rights, particularly in personal matters like divorce and family inheritance.

The document’s writers are also debating whether to drop or phase out a measure enshrined in the interim constitution, co-written last year by the Americans, requiring that women make up at least a quarter of the parliament.

The draft of a chapter of the new constitution obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday guarantees equal rights for women as long as those rights do not “violate Shariah,” or Koranic law.