There are many reasons for the proposed Iraqi consitution to fail. By "fail" I mean it won't be accepted by all ethnic groups. The Shiites with their numbers, plus support from the Kurds, may just be able to push it through via the tyranny of the majority. But "pushing it through" is not the same as a success, except it will bring a sigh of relief for the Americans.
Probably one of the principal reasons for the difficulty in reaching a consensus on the drafting has been the unrealistic "deadline" imposed by the USA.
The Americans want the new constitution A.S.A.P so that the subsequent election can take place for a new Iraqi government to be installed, for the world and especially the American public to see that, thanks to the USA a new Iraq is born and "independent", before they hightail it back to the good ole mainland.
The Iraqi quagmire is sucking their young men and women down into Hades. The casualties are mounting and hurting their political centre of gravity, which is the American public. That was how they lost the war to a 3rd world nation in the early 70s. That was why they exited Vietnam in utter shambles and disgrace. That was how they abandoned their southern Vietnamese allies to their bloody fate.
All those, we will see them re-do when the new Iraqi constitution is in place and the election confirms a new Iraqi government, and f*** secularity, human rights and democracy - provided of course Chalabi delivers from the south and the Kurds from the north - oil, that is!
For the Iraqis, issues such as federalism, religion as the centre piece of the new state, women's rights or rather their loss, oil wealth sharing, ethnic based militia for each autonomous region are all extremely sticky points. Each ethnic group perceives their individual net gain and losses.
To recapitulate on what I have blogged previously:
(1) Understandably the Kurds want federalism with an opportunity to secede in 8 years time. They even want this consideration for independence written into the constitution, plus the right to maintain their own militia, the 100,000 strong peshmerga. The Shiites seem not to care but the Sunnis are another matter altogether.
The Bush Administration has instructed the Kurds to go easy on this issue so as not to delay Sunni acceptance of the constitution. In reality the Americans don't give a sh*t whether the Kurds get their own nation, so long as they deliver the oil to Uncle Sam. That has been how the US treated the Shiites and the Sunnis in turn, and that's how they will treat the Kurds.
(2) The Shiites know they form 60% of the population. By sheer virtue of this alone, they enjoy a number of options. Most important of all, they will control the government, and of course the oil in the south. That's why they can afford to stick their Sharia tongue out and thumb their Hudud nose at the Americans. The US is so desperate that it has caved in, yes, born-again Christian Bush has caved in to the Shiites' demand for an Islamic state. That tells us how desperate the Americans are - it's akin to Osama bin Laden agreeing to the opening of a bah-kut-teh stall in downtown Kabul in order to obtain some advantage.
The Shiites intend to ensure the Sunnis will never ever again be on top of them. As for the Kurds, the Shiites have to decide whether it's more realistic to let go of the equally oil-rich north and graciously accept an independent Kurdistan, or engage them in an anti-secession suppression. Still early days yet. Everything right now is in the Shiites' favour, and there's no need to rush.
(3) The Sunnis are in deep sh*t insofar as their options are concerned. They realised they will be denied the oil in both the northern and southern regions. Comprising 20% of the population there isn't much they can do within the short time the Americans have allowed them, other than to imply the threat of civil war, and to demonstrate this ominous future by intensifying the current insurgency.
How have all these complications come to be?
Was it Saddam Hussein's WMD missiles just 45 minutes flight from London and a bit more from New York and Washington? Or, was it the Saddam Hussein's al Qaeda link? Or, was it regime change? Or, was it the democratisation of the Middle East, starting off with an Iraqi island of 'freedom and democracy'?
Or, is it Bush's "Please hurry up, I wanna go home!"