iraqi with gun 88.
(photo credit: )
Imagine a document that defines the power, religion, identity, distribution of revenues and freedom of a country's people and government.
The power, says the document, can be taken from the central government by any provinces of the country that bond together. The religion is based on one faith and no laws can contradict it. The distribution of revenues depends on where you live.
Sound like something you'd want to adopt? Well, that would depend on who you are and where you live.
For Iraq's Kurds and the Shi'ites, the new constitution - which passed according to results released Tuesday - is great. The Kurds get independence in their region in the north, and the Shi'ites can form their own mega-region in the south.
Not only can they rule over themselves, but they may get to keep the billions of dollars the oil in their regions churns out.
But what about the Sunnis? As it is they feel disenfranchised, partly because they refused to vote in January's parliamentary elections and partly because of the purging of the Ba'athists by the interim government. And, as the US administration has learned, not all Ba'athists are bad.
So, as expected, most Sunnis voted a big "no" on the constitution. So did minority groups and secular Iraqis who don't like the document's Islamic flavor and fear the country will be divided into three parts. Even Jewish Iraqis living abroad, who were most supportive of the US-invasion of Iraq, oppose it.
But here's the catch.
Of the 136 articles of the document, some 55 leave their issues to be dealt with later by ending with the words, "And a law shall regulate [or organize] this."
In a last-minute addition, US Ambassador to Iraq Zalman Khalilazad forced the Shi'ites and Kurds to add that within four months of the formation of a new government following the December 15 elections, necessary amendments must be made by a group which is representative of Iraqi society.
So, what will change as a result of the passing of the constitution? A number of things.
While the mostly Sunni-fuelled insurgency will not be one of them, the high Sunni participation in the referendum will likely give Sunni political leaders a boost to participate with less fear in the upcoming elections.
Moreover, the document serves at least as some sort of basis from which the Iraqis can move forward by making those "necessary amendments" within the allotted time.
Only then will the Iraqis be able to see if they can bridge their ethnic and sectarian divides and unite the country rather than let it rush toward a Balkan-style disintegration.