THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
Released September 16, 2003
The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
Website: http://www.twf.org -- Press Contact: Enver Masud

New Iraq Constitution a Pretext for Exploitation

by Enver Masud

Israel does not have a written constitution. The British do not have a written constitution. The U.S. constitution provided few benefits for the majority of Americans for over 150 years. So why must the Iraqis wait for a new constitution before the U.S. occupation force transfers power to them?

Iraq's original constitution, together with the widely misunderstood Shariah (Islamic law derived from the Quran and other sources), provide a reasonable basis for Iraqi self rule -- at least until the Iraqis themselves draft and approve a new constitution.

ISRAELI CONSTITUTION

Israel, touted as the region's sole democracy, has not had a written constitution since its founding in 1948. Its political system is based upon its Declaration of Independence and various laws. The following texts are "recognized as constitutional by Israel's Supreme Court":

- Declaration of Independence (1948)
- Law of Return (1950)
- World Zionist Organization -- Jewish Agency (Status) Law
- Basic Laws: The Knesset (1958); Israel Lands (1960); The President of the State (1964); The Government (1968); The State Economy (1975); Israel Defense Forces (1976); Jerusalem, Capital of Israel (1980); The Judicature Law (1984); The State Comptroller (1988); Human Dignity and Freedom (1992); Freedom of Occupation (1992)
Israel is of course a Jewish state -- it makes no separation between Church and state. Dr. Uri Davis, author of "Israel: An Apartheid State," compares Israeli treatment of its Christian and Muslim citizens to South Africa's treatment of "blacks" during apartheid.

BRITISH CONSTITUTION

The British Constitution is also unwritten. It has two basic principles: the Rule of Law, and the Supremacy of Parliament. It is derived from a variety of sources, the primary ones are:

- Statutes such as the Magna Carta of 1215 and the Act of Settlement of 1701
- Laws and Customs of Parliament; political conventions
- Case law -- constitutional matters decided in a court of law
- Constitutional experts who have written on the subject
Britain maintains a formal relationship between Church and state. The Queen is the United Kingdom's Head of State. Her role, stated in the Preface to the 39 Articles of the Church of England, describes the monarch as 'being by God's Ordinance, according to Our just Title, Defender of the Faith and ... Supreme Governor of the Church of England'.

According to the official web site of the British Monarchy: "Archbishops and bishops are appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, who considers the names selected by a Church Commission. They take an oath of allegiance to The Queen on appointment and may not resign without royal authority."

U.S. CONSTITUTION

The U.S. has a written constitution which was first drafted and approved in 1787. Over the next four years ten amendments, and a Bill of Rights, were approved. However, under this constitution Native Americans, women, whites who did not own property, African Americans, and other minorities had no voting rights.

All white males were granted the right to vote by 1860. Women were granted the right to vote in 1920. In the 1960s African Americans were still fighting for the right to vote which, while granted by law, was denied to them in a variety of ways. President Bush owes his election to poor white and African American voters wrongfully struck from voter rolls in the state of Florida. Florida's governor is Jeb Bush, brother of President Bush.

IRAQ CONSTITUTION

Iraq had a written constitution. Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq a task force of Iraqi expatriates, formed by the U.S. Department of State, concluded that it would be a relatively simple matter to remove the decrees issued by President Saddam Hussein, and thereby restore the original Iraq constitution.

Under their original constitution Iraqi's enjoyed a high standard of living, women's rights, and the highest literacy rate among the Arabs.

Noah Feldman, a professor at New York University Law School, was appointed in May 2003 to the U.S. Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance as an adviser on framing a new constitution for Iraq. "He's got substance in both an Islamic background and in practical constitutionalism," said David H. Souter, the Supreme Court justice for whom Professor Feldman had been a law clerk. His book, "After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy," is a thoughtful examination of Islam and democracy. Mr. Feldman resigned two months later.

Isam al-Khafaji, one of 140 Iraqis on the council formed by the U.S. to help with the postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation, also resigned. "I feared my role with the reconstruction council was sliding from what I had originally envisioned -- working with allies in a democratic fashion -- to collaborating with occupying forces," he said.

ISLAMIC LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Properly interpreted, the Shariah provides the principles for creating a just society. Democracy, human rights, the separation of "Church" and State, the rights of minorities, etc. were all recognized by Islamic jurists.

In a major speech His Royal Highness, HRH Prince Charles, stated:

"Islamic countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Syria gave women the vote as early as Europe did its women -- and much earlier than in Switzerland! In those countries women have long enjoyed equal pay, and the opportunity to play a full working role in their societies. The rights of Muslim women to property and inheritance, to some protection if divorced, and to the conducting of business, were rights prescribed by the Quran twelve hundred years ago, even if they were not everywhere translated into practice. In Britain at least, some of these rights were novel even to my grandmother's generation!"
Two of the largest Muslim countries, Indonesia with a population of 231 million, and Bangladesh with a population of 133 million, are led by women.

As for separation of Church and state, centuries before the Europeans, Islamic jurists recognized a conceptual separation (Islam has no "Church", i.e. an hierarchy of priests, bishops, etc.). Islamic jurists divided the Shariah into two categories: religious observances and worldly matters. The first were beyond the scope of modification. The second which covered criminal law, family law, and transactions were deemed subject to interpretation.

Regarding democracy the London based Impact International monthly reported that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan), stressed time and again that there was no need to borrow the concept or practice of democracy from others because Muslims had learnt democracy 1300 years ago. Mr. Jinnah believed that as the Prophet signed pacts with the Christians, Jews and other minorities in Madinahal-Munnawwarah, minorities would enjoy equal rights in Muslim countries.

Replying to a question whether Pakistan would be a secular or theocratic state? the Quaid rebuked: "You are asking me a question that is absurd. What I have already said is like throwing water on a duck's back. When you talk of democracy, I am afraid you have not studied Islam. We learned democracy 13 centuries ago."

Of course, as in many non-Muslim countries, neither their faith nor their constitution were sufficient to prevent some Muslim leaders from doing more harm than good.

A PRETEXT

So why must Iraqis wait for a new constitution to secure their independence from the U.S. occupation force? The drafting of the constitution is a pretext for exploiting Iraq's national wealth, providing oil and water to Israel, and maintaining control of the energy resources of the Middle East.

The U.S. is secretly building two giant intelligence facilities in Iraq at a cost of some half a billion dollars, according to a report in Israel's DEBKA-Net-Weekly. U.S. engineering and construction units are setting up what amounts to an "intelligence city" on a site north of the oil city of Mosul in Kurdistan and a second facility in Baghdad's Saadun district on the east bank of the Tigris. DEBKA-Net-Weekly military experts infer from the "vast dimensions of the two projects and their colossal expense" that it is Washington's intention to retain a large U.S. military presence in Iraq for at least a decade.

On August 26 Scotland's national newspaper reported, "The United States has asked Israel to explore reviving a pipeline route pumping oil from Iraq direct to the oil refineries in the Israeli port of Haifa. The office of the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, sees the pipeline project as a 'bonus' in return for Israel's backing of the US-led campaign in Iraq, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday."

Stephen C. Pelletiere, writing in the New York Times, stated, "In the 1990's there was much discussion over the construction of a so-called Peace Pipeline that would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel. No progress has been made on this, largely because of Iraqi intransigence. With Iraq in American hands, of course, all that could change."

To fulfill Israeli expectations, and those of American corporations, Iraq can expect the U.S. Agency for International Development, assisted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, to push for a restructuring of Iraq's economy. U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has begun promoting privatization as a good idea for Iraq's ailing economy.

Mr. Rumsfeld's plan for Iraq is the first step of the Assistance Strategy prepared for developing nations. Each nation's finance minister is handed a 'restructuring agreement' pre-drafted for his 'voluntary' signature, then, says Joseph Stiglitz (recipient Nobel Prize, Chairman, President's Council of Economic Advisers, Chief Economist, World Bank), the Bank hands every minister the same four-step program.

Investigative journalist Gregory Palast who interviewed Dr. Stiglitz describes the Assistance Strategy: Step One is Privatisation which Stiglitz says could more accurately be called, 'Briberisation.' "You could see their eyes widen" at the prospect of 10% commissions paid to Swiss bank accounts for simply shaving a few billion off the sale price of national assets. Step Two is 'Capital Market Liberalization.' In theory, capital market deregulation allows investment capital to flow in and out. Unfortunately, as in Indonesia and Brazil, the money simply flowed out and out. Step Three is Market-Based Pricing, a fancy term for raising prices on food, water and cooking gas. Step Four is Free Trade by the rules of the World Trade Organization and World Bank.

Dr. Stiglitz likens this "free trade" to the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century in which Great Britain went to war with China to force open its markets, and took Hong Kong as the price for ceasing hostilities.



Enver Masud, "Corporate Globalization Threatens World's Poor, Middle Class," The Wisdom Fund, October 10, 2000

Enver Masud, "Deregulation Fiasco, Red Flag for Developing Countries," The Wisdom Fund, February 5, 2001

Enver Masud, "A Clash Between Justice and Greed, Not Islam and the West," The Wisdom Fund, September 2, 2002

[I understand that because of your invasion of Kuwait in 1990, 2.6 million claims were filed with the United Nations Compensation Commission, about $151 billion in compensation sought has been resolved, and $44 billion has been awarded to the claimants. It is estimated that it would require 100 years of sanctions to pay off these claims. . . .

I see a parallel between your invasion of Kuwait, and our invasion of your country.--Enver Masud, "An Open Letter to the People of Iraq," The Wisdom Fund, April 23, 2001]

[The American-backed administration in Iraq has announced sweeping economic reforms, including the sale of all state industries except for oil.

The surprise announcement by Iraqi Finance Minister Kamel al-Kilani dominated the second day of meetings organised by the International Monetary Fund in Dubai.--"Iraq adopts sweeping reforms," BBC News, September 21, 2003]

[The initiative bore all the hallmarks of Washington's ascendant neoconservative lobby, complete with tax cuts and trade tariff rollbacks. It will apply to everything from industry to health and water, although not oil.

But it is still likely to feed concerns that Iraq is being turned into a golden opportunity for profiteering by multinational corporations relying on their political connections.--Philip Thornton and Andrew Gumbel, "America puts Iraq up for sale," Independent (UK), September 22, 2003]

Mark Fineman, "Open Investment Policy Looks Like 'World Occupation' to Iraq Merchants," Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2003

[IILG appears to be part of a carefully-constructed network aimed at channelling business into Iraq.

Interestingly, the firm's website is not registered in Salem Chalabi's name but in the name of Marc Zell, whose address is given as Suite 716, 1800 K Street, Washington. That is the address of the Washington office of Zell, Goldberg &Co, which claims to be "one of Israel's fastest-growing business-oriented law firms", and the related FANDZ International Law Group.

The unusual name "FANDZ" was concocted from "F and Z", the Z being Marc Zell and the F beingDouglas Feith.--Brian Whitaker, "Friends of the family," Guardian (UK), September 24, 2003]

[A new curriculum for training an Iraqi army for $164 million. Five hundred experts, at $200,000 each, to investigate crimes against humanity. A witness protection program for $200,000 per Iraqi participant. A computer study for the Iraqi postal service: $54 million.--Jonathan Weisman and Juliet Eilperin, "Some Doubt Need For $20.3 Billion For Rebuilding," Washington Post, September 26, 2003]

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, "Iraqis Call U.S. Goal on Constitution Impossible," Washington Post, September 30, 2003

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, "Shiite Demand to Elect Constitution's Drafters Could Delay Transfer of Power," Washington Post, October 21, 2003

Joseph Stiglitz, "America preaches free markets, but at home it's a different story," Guardian, October 29, 2003

[It means that the oil industry is magically exempt from liability for a vast range of things, including health and safety violations, child labour, minimum wage and other employment rights such as equal opportunity, consumer fraud, clean environment duties, and shareholder accountability, to name but a few.--Richard Calland, "A licence to loot," Mail & Guardian (South Africa), Wednesday, October 29, 2003]

[None of the $87 billion recently appropriated by Congress for reconstruction in Iraq will go to Iraqi workers or the unemployed - which now total about 70% of the population.--David Bacon, " Iraqis Denied Worker Rights Under U.S. Occupation," Democracy Now, Wednesday, October 30, 2003]

Larry Margasak, "Report Links Iraq Deals to Bush Donations," Associated Press, October 30, 2003

[Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) may be in breach of the 1907 Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention because CPA's Order 39 permitted full foreign ownership of a wide range of state-owned Iraqi assets, barring natural resources such as oil.

International experts say foreign investors could face a wide range of legal problems in Iraq because Order 39 is "strictly contrary to the Iraqi constitution," according to Stephen Nelson, a partner at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey--Thomas Catan, "Iraq Business Deals May Be Invalid, Law Experts Warn," Financial Times, October 30, 2003]

Naomi Klein, "Iraq is Not America's to Sell," The Guardian, November 7, 2003

Robin Wright and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, "Alternatives to Iraqi Council Eyed," Washington Post, November 9, 2003

Susan Sachs and Joel Brinkley, "Iraqi Leaders Seek Power Before Drafting a Charter," New York Times, November 13, 2003

[The religious edict, handed down in June by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shiite Muslim cleric, called for general elections to select the drafters of a new constitution.--Rajiv Chandrasekaran, "How Cleric Trumped U.S. Plan for Iraq," Washington Post, November 26, 2003]

[. . . privatisation is being imposed by bombing, looting, freezing of assets, random sacking of staff and exposure to unfair competition.--Kamil Mahdi, "Privatisation won't make you popular," Guardian, November 9, 2003]

Edward Wong, "Sunnis in Iraq Form Own Political Council," New York Times, December 26, 2003

[Plans to privatize state-owned businesses . . . have been dropped over the past few months. So too has a demand that Iraqis write a constitution before a transfer of sovereignty.--Rajiv Chandrasekaran, " Attacks Force Retreat From Wide-Ranging Plans for Iraq," Washington Post, December 28, 2003]

[The Bush administration has decided to let the Kurdish region remain semi-autonomous as part of a newly sovereign Iraq despite warnings from Iraq's neighbors and many Iraqis not to divide the country into ethnic states, American and Iraqi officials say.--Steven R. Weisman, "Kurdish Region in Northern Iraq Will Get to Keep Special Status," New York Times, January 5, 2004]

[The reconstruction of Iraq has emerged as a vast protectionist racket, a neo-con New Deal that transfers limitless public funds - in contracts, loans and insurance - to private firms, and even gets rid of the foreign competition to boot, under the guise of "national security". . . .

"If you take $10m from the US government and sub the job out to Iraqi businesses for a quarter-million, is that business, or is that corruption?" Naomi Klein, "The $500 billion fire sale," Guardian, January 17, 2004]

[The occupation authorities are trapped. The occupation is costing $3.9bn a month. Politically, if they permit a democratic election they could get a government whose legitimacy is unchallengeable and which wants them out of the country. If they go for a rigged, Florida-style vote, it would be impossible to contain Shia anger and an armed resistance would commence in the south, raising the spectre of a civil war.--Tariq Ali, "How far will the US go to maintain its illegitimate primacy in Iraq?," Guardian, February 14, 2004]

[Simply put, no Iraqi government could survive without the American forces, according to American commanders.--Dexter Filkins, "Iraqis Say Deal on U.S. Troops Must Be Put Off," New York Times, February 23, 2004]

Warren Hoge, "U.N. Chief Says Iraq Elections Could Be Held Within a Year," New York Times, February 24, 2004

[Article 25 (A) - The Iraqi Transitional Government shall have exclusive competence in the following matters: foreign policy and diplomatic representation; negotiating, signing, and ratifying international treaties and agreements; formulating foreign economic and trade policy and sovereign debt policies;

Article 59 (C) - Upon its assumption of authority, and consistent with Iraq's status as a sovereign state, the elected Iraqi Transitional Government shall have the authority to conclude binding international agreements regarding the activities of the multi-national force operating in Iraq under unified command pursuant to the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511 (2003), and any subsequent relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.--"LAW OF ADMINISTRATION FOR THE STATE OF IRAQ FOR THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD," Associated Press, March 8, 2004]

[. . . he fell out with the Bush circle because he wanted free elections and rejected an imposed programme of privatisation.--David Leigh, "General Jay Garner sacked by Bush says he wanted early elections," Guardian, March 18, 2004]

Jim Krane, "U.S. will retain power in Iraq after transfer of sovereignty," Associated Press, March 21, 2004

Anthony Shadid, "Iraqi Cleric Intensifies Opposition to Interim Constitution," Washington Post, March 22, 2004

[Three former RTI employees who worked on the project say that the company instead spent 90 percent of the money on expensive expatriate staff, gave out lots of advice and held lots of meetings, but did little to provide support for local community organizations or councils.--Pratap Chatterjee, "Democracy by the Dollars," CorpWatch, July 19, 2004]

Pratap Chatterjee, "Iraq, Inc.: A Profitable Occupation," Seven Stories Press (November 15, 2004)

[The chairman of Transparency International, Peter Eigen, said that Iraq was "at risk of becoming the biggest corruption scandal in history" if strong anti-bribery measures were not put in place by the time that the remainder of the reconstruction money was spent.--Alan Beattie, " Anti-corruption drive short on real progress," Financial Times, March 16, 2005]

[The administration has harshly criticized the United Nations over hundreds of millions stolen from the Oil-for-Food Program under Saddam. But the successor to Oil-for-Food created under the occupation, called the Development Fund for Iraq, could involve billions of potentially misused dollars.--Michael Hirsh, "Follow the Money," Newsweek, April 4, 2005]

[The United Nations has approved $52.5bn (29.3bn) in compensation payments to Iraq's neighbours arising from its 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait.--"Iraq compensation put at $52.5bn," BBC News, July 1, 2005]

[What is worse is that many of these compensation claims were fraudulent. The U.N. discovered some, others were overlooked and paid out. There was a claim from the government of Jordan for having helped transiting guest workers to go home for $8.2 billion U.S. dollars, 8.2. The U.N. in the end awarded $79 million, less than a percent of what was asked for. The Iraqi money was like a cow that one could milk eternally in order to please governments that need the money while Iraqis back home were dying in large numbers.--Hans Von Sponeck, "The Surge of Baghdad Should Become the Surge on Washington," democracynow.org, March 23, 2007]

VIDEO: Joseph Stiglitz, "Trade Liberalization in Iraq Will Lead to Loss of Jobs"

Copyright © 2003 The Wisdom Fund - Provided that it is not edited, and author name, organization, and web address (www.twf.org) are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and displayed on the Internet.
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