Why it matters

1. The adoption of the Iraqi constitution is obviously a major victory for progressive forces in the country. It marks an important, albeit not yet final, defeat for anti-democratic forces, clearly demonstrates that the majority of the Iraqi people support a federal, republic and reject the restorationist Ba’athists and Islamist reactionaries who have spent the past two years violently trying to thwart the creation of a democratic state.

2. It is a major boost for democrats across the Middle East and will be an inspiration to democrats fighting against tyranny elsewhere. The fact is there for all to see – freed from the chains of fascism yet still faced with violent counter-revolution on a daily basis, the Iraqi people have shown that a determined and brave commitment can result in a goal being achieved against the odds.

3. The elections in December will now take place within a constitutional framework which gives them more legitamacy and perhaps more import than January’s vote. It is also not a minor factor that the trials of the Ba’athist criminals will now take place within the framework of a popular Iraqi federal republic.

4. But, the struggle is not yet over. It is likely that the ‘resistance’ will respond to this with another round of attacks and the young democratic state, still lacking experienced defensive forces will continue to need the fraternal assistance of friendly outside forces. Renewed terrorism will be portrayed in the media as some sort of sign that the constitution has ‘failed to end the violence’ despite the fact that no-one expects the referendum to result in the surrender of the counter-revolutionaries. Revolutions almost always face violent counter-revolution and the consolidation of the state will take time. How long the international military presence should remain in Iraq is of course related to that consolidation but is a question for the Iraqi political process to answer.

5. Given that Iraq now has a popular consitution, ratified by referendum and is heading towards its third mass vote since liberation it is surely time for those countries not currently directly involved in military solidarity with the Iraqi people to step forward and offer other kinds of assistance. Blair and Bush should make renewed efforts to convince EU countries to give a hand to this young democracy.

6. The specific solidarity that the Iraqi labour movement, left political groups, Kurdish organisations, womens’ groups, democratic student organisations and others need is not changed by this process – it is time for a renewed effort on that front. The specific form of Iraqi democracy remains open and the secular forces will need all the help they can get.