The most telling reaction to the draft of Iraqi constitution has come from Tehran. The head of Iranâ€™s Guardian Council hailed the document. â€œAfter years of struggle,â€ Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said, â€œan Islamic state has come to power.â€ That is a more accurate description of the potential of the document than President Bush provided in praising its â€œfar-reaching protections for human freedoms.â€
Basic rights are given lip service in the document. But it states that Islam will be â€œa basic source of legislation.â€ The draft says that Iraqâ€™s highest court must have Islamic law experts. It is no surprise that an Iranian official should be pleased by the document as it would facilitate the formation of a powerful region in southern Iraq which would be mainly Shiite.
Sunnis are now being encouraged to vote against the document in the October 15 referendum. If a two-thirds majority rejects the draft, it will be defeated. If voters do block the draft constitution, it would force a restart of the whole process of drawing up a basic charter. The administration cannot be happy at that prospect, but it might be preferable to approve a constitution that is hailed by Iran and so hated by Sunnis that many would continue their violent assaults on US and Iraqi forces.