Iraq’s draft constitution will probably be approved in the referendum to be held on October 15. But whether it is ratified or not ultimately does not matter, as the constitution – and the whole constitution-making process – is totally out of touch with the realities of a country that no longer exists as a coherent body politic.
The problem is not with the constitution, but with the conventional wisdom – almost an idée fixe – that Iraq is a viable modern nation-state, and that all it needs to make it work properly is the right political institutions. But this is a fallacy, and responsible leaders should begin to think of alternatives.
The Iraqi state, established in the 1920’s by British imperialist planners (with Winston Churchill in the lead), is a strange pastiche of three disparate provinces of the old Ottoman Empire: Mosul in the north with a Kurdish majority, Baghdad in the center with a Sunni Arab majority, and Basra in the south with a Shia Arab majority. For their own political reasons, the British put the Sunni Arabs – never more than 25% of the population – in control of the whole country, and even imported a Sunni Arab Hashemite prince to rule over their creation.