More constitution gossip…….

Did you read today’s guest editorial on the excellent Informed Comment?
Amendment and Empire (Andrew Arato)
You should. Go read it now and come back.

I find it amazing how at times like these someone like me who usually throws around words like they are Dinar notes at a wedding realizes how careful many others are with their use of words. I’m loving this.

Andrew Arato in his piece points out that the one week extension was not really illegal, there is an amendment rule in the TAL it just wasn’t put in there to be used for this sort of amendment.

Using the TAL Article 3A to extend the process by a week, in spite of the apparently raging resistance of the U.S. Ambassador who stormed out of a meeting when he heard of the decision, was a small declaration of independence on the part of the Iraqis.

Now you are wondering what Article 3 states

Article 3
(A) This Law is the Supreme Law of the land and shall be binding in all parts of Iraq without exception. No amendment to this Law may be made except by a three-fourths majority of the members of the National Assembly and the unanimous approval of the Presidency Council

Likewise, no amendment may be made that could abridge in any way the rights of the Iraqi people cited in Chapter Two; extend the transitional period beyond the timeframe cited in this Law; delay the holding of elections to a new assembly; reduce the powers of the regions or governorates; or affect Islam, or any other religions or sects and their rites.

So if you are really going to start hair splitting the one-week extension, since it did not extend the transitional period is legal. I personally think if you got to this point you really are stretching it a bit and bending the essence of the Law but as Mr. Arato elegantly points out

The texts with the dates TAL Art. 61A , and 61F were not enshrined in any way! Thus the ban against extension applied only under the TAL as it was, not as amended.

enshrined!!!? Fancy-shmancy. I should start a list of words I have never used on this blog. Ghaith used to joke that all we know is 500 English words which we sort of shuffle around.
I’m rambling, back to the matter at hand…

Mr. Arato and even earlier than him Christopher at [Back in Iraq] – thanks artappraiser – both argue that the extension is not illegal since Artricle 3A allows the amendment of the TAL and the extension was an amendment.
I am still convinced that when the negotiators at the National Assembly came to the decision that the only way to save the process from collapsing is to extend the deadline someone starting searching frantically in the TAL to find a way around Article 61. But as a a comment on Back to Iraq wisely points out all this hairsplitting won’t matter by the fourth of fifth extension.

There is another interesting paragraph in Arato’s article

Even worse, Khalilzad personally and in a highly publicized way attended meetings of the round table, distributed a constitutional draft or something like it, probably twisted arms, cajoled, threatened and who knows what else.

I showed the article to Pax Senior and he said Arato seems to have a very good grasp of things. I have been trying to prod and poke about this the last couple of days and the answer I got was that at no point did Khalilzad actually hand out a draft but there were a couple of ‘something-like-it’s and it seems that on the 15th there wasn’t a person involved in the negotiations who wasn’t taken aside by Khalilzad for a little talk.

Arato also thinks that Khalilzad is the “first intelligent American pro-consul in Iraq”. I say not only is he intelligent he also is a personal friend of many of the main political players in Iraq at the moment which makes his little “suggestions” more acceptable to the Iraqi side. Khalilzad either because of his background, his Afghanistan experience or his personal acquaintance with the involved doesn’t have the air of distant superiority the US and UK ambassadors radiate. At relaxed moments he tells funny stories about Iraqi political leaders while in exile and is literally more hands on when he deals with the Iraqis.

This obviously won’t help Arato to stop worrying that Khalilzad interference might “delegitimate the final product” it just shows that Khlailzad was a very good choice for some ‘imperial imposition’-ing.

The point Arato is making in his article is one which tickles in all the right places and I am sure the Iraqi negotiators who’ve realized what they have done go back home full of themselves.

Using the TAL Article 3A to extend the process by a week, in spite of the apparently raging resistance of the U.S. Ambassador who stormed out of a meeting when he heard of the decision, was a small declaration of independence on the part of the Iraqis.

Talk about looking for a silver lining!


The Final Mistake – Beastellabeast

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