Good Morning my friends and people,
This lovely Saturday morning, referendum day, over 15 million Iraqi citizens, of various political, ethnical, and -I hate to mention this-sectarian backgrounds are preparing to voice their opinions on the constitution draft. It is truly a historic day.
Before everything, I would like to point out that today's "Yes", or "No", is far better than the dreaded "Yes" of the past. Far from being emotional, I also wish to express the inner conflict I was experiencing, as others did, in regard to my self-confidence and peace of mind over making my democratic choice of "Yes" or "No". All the pain and the wounds of the past years went
through my mind as I was heading to the polling station, following the examples of my brothers, friends and people.
Through a quick examination of the Iraqi political scene starting from the fall of the former regime and all the developments, chaos and confusion that followed, reaching the constitution drafting process and the referendum, the independent observer cannot help but realize that the major players in Iraqi politics following the American occupation were not at a level of maturation
to be qualified for a practical implementation of such a grand experiment, one that Iraqis have been craving for over half a century.
What we experienced was an extreme tendency, by certain powers, to push the Iraqi citizen to either ratify or to reject, without being given the chance to understand the reasons of making such choices in the first place. We did not see anyone clearing the ambiguity which surrounded the constitution drafting process. So while it was necessary to vote with a Yes in order to
avoid the problematic return to the starting point, with hopes that the constitution would be improved and amended as we move on, the situation dictated that a choice of No was a far more positive one to review past political practices and to avoid being pulled behind temperamental
interpretations of sensitive and controversial issues which would threaten to deepen the divide and to extend it.
Most political parties failed in educating and enlightening the Iraqi citizen in this constitutional process. The Iraqi citizen was not prepared to digest this new practice which implies respecting the other side and accepting it as an active participant to the reconstruction of the new Iraq.
Instead, the mentioned political parties concentrated on what would benefit them temporarily, not on what would benefit Iraqis as a whole in the present and in the future. It was like someone putting the carriage in front of the horse. As a result, Iraqis were left confused again.
And by the admission of all that such a constitution was delivered through Caesarean section because of the impatience following the ongoing violence which tore the Iraqi body apart, added to the tendency of neighboring countries to act as spectators for undisguised reasons, mostly sectarian in origin. No wonder, since sectarianism and factionalism continue to threaten Iraqi unity, as it has for decades.
I was among those who wished to see deep-rooted Iraqi political parties investing the democratic experience, applying it to the constitutional referendum by educating the Iraqi citizen on the benefits and drawbacks of both the Yes and the No. It was also evident that this constitutional draft
needed at least another three months for further scrutiny and understanding, this is most true when the constitution is originally tailored to serve the Iraqi people as a whole, NOT the political elite.
The tensions and confusion increased among the major players, particularly those who had preconceived positions and rushed their Yes or No, even before distributing copies of the constitution draft to their followers and without understanding the implications of the final additions made just hours before the referendum.
It was also painful for me to see the most senior Islamic cleric in Iraq also pushing a choice of "Yes" alone, disregarding the democratic side of the constitutional process as well as disregarding his own statements made recently in which he confirmed that clerics would not intervene in politics
and elections, a mistake which allowed certain political parties to triumph during the last elections.
This was also crowned by the speech made by the Iraqi president, just a few hours before the referendum, in which he advised Iraqis to vote with a "Yes", this by a politician who is supposed to be a sponsor of democracy!
Yes, it seems that the "Yes" will triumph again. Congratulations to all who participated and contributed, yet such a participation will not be decorated by the majestic splendor it should have. I fear future turmoil which we would all have negatively contributed to. We will also bear a huge part of its responsibility by our selfishness, our factionalism, and our failure to
comprehend what we preach and do not practice.
I used to wish, and I still do, that the political speech of religious scholars, of the president of the country and of most political, religious parties and movements was one that educated the spirit of the constitution which respects the choice of voters, whether it be a "Yes" or a "No". That
either choice is not less patriotic than the other. That everyone concentrate on participation of the citizen in itself, strengthening his self-confidence and his new found democratic freedoms so that he would dedicate himself to rebuilding his country, not to leave him frustrated and confused.
We would then be scorched by the very fire which we try to bake our piece of bread from. We all know from experience that rushing the fire and baking the dough before it is properly fermented would give us bread that is not to our liking.