The End of an Auld Sang

No important political faction in Iraq is likely to be 100% happy with the draft constitution. How could it be otherwise? A section of the document which gains support from conservative Islamists isn’t going to go down well with secularists and vice versa. It’s the same with Sunnis and Kurds or merchants and employees.

Forging even minimal agreement on the hugely difficult so far and will no doubt continue to prove so in the future. But by finally agreeing a constitution Iraqis will have made an important step forward on the road to normalising politics in a country still attempting to emerge from the legacy of a particularly brutal past even by the abysmal standards of the middle east.

Here are two contrasting approaches to an imperfect document:

Iraqi Communist Party spokesperson Salam Ali called the draft’s vague language on women’s status “a step backward” compared to Iraq’s current personal status law, adopted in 1959, considered one of the most advanced in the region. Under the new draft, he said, women could be subject to religious courts in matters like divorce and inheritance. “It all depends on how it is interpreted in practice,” Ali told the World in a phone interview this week. He credited the emergence of an outspoken Iraqi women’s movement with keeping more extreme language out of the draft. Without the women’s activism, he said, “It could have been much worse.”

But, according to the same article:

A wide range of liberal to left groups is planning a national unity conference next month, aiming to build a political alliance for the December elections. The debate over the constitution is “part of a bigger political and social battle about shaping the whole of the new Iraqi state,” Ali said. “This is just one step.”

Contrast this approach to the one set out below:

al-Zarqawi, considered to be Osama bin Laden’s lieutenant in Iraq, has united insurgent groups in Baghdad to target the Shia community with the aim of bringing civil war to Iraq as it prepares for a referendum on its constitution next month.

Unite left and liberal groups in a fight to make the draft document reflect the demands of the people or start a sectarian civil war and throw to the flames the very idea of a constitution?

It’s a no-brainer isn’t it? Why almost the entire British Left forgot the most basic duty of solidarity and backed the wrong side in Iraq is something historians will have to quibble over when they come to write the obituary of a once seemingly permanent and hugely powerful political phenomenon which, like the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires before the first world war squandered any chance of survival by cheerfully getting into bed with entirely the wrong allies.

Here’s Galloway again with a reminder of what the Communist Party of Britain, the Socialist Workers Party and nearly all the other so-called Marxist groups have signed up to support:

“These poor Iraqis – ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons – are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable.

He neglected to mention the fact that to to succesfully render Iraq ungovernable a campaign of slandering and then slaughtering trades union and working class leaders is neccessary and that those unfortunates who are forced to sell their labour power to survive will also be legitimate targets for the heroes who write the names in the stars.

RIP Organised Marxism in Great Britain. Born 1920 in London in unity, died 2005 in Baghdad stabbing Iraqi comrades in the back.