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The Iraqi Constitution: Structural Flaws and Political Implications

Professor Saad N. Jawad

LSE Middle East Centre Paper Series / 01


Ten years after the US invasion, and following three rounds of elections, Iraq is one of the most dangerous, unstable and corrupt countries in the world. It is clear that the ill-conceived US experiment to remake Iraq has failed. The deep structural, legal and political failings of the Iraqi Constitution, for which both US officials and Iraqi politicians bear responsibility, have contributed greatly to this failure. In 2005, Iraqis approved the Constitution in a referendum, but they voted on an incomplete and badly written draft, not realising that the document would deepen Iraq’s misery. The hasty way the Constitution was drafted, the many unhelpful external interventions, the absence of Iraqi constitutional expertise and the side-lining of Sunni Arab representation have all contributed to the precarious situation in Iraq in the subsequent eight years. Considering the myriad confusions and divisions underlying the Constitution’s drafting process, it is not surprising that the document has created more problems than it has solved. The Constitution’s vagueness and ambiguity has hindered its application. The excessive concessions granted to the Kurds on the issues of federal government, natural resources and Kirkuk (and their subsequent refusal to renegotiate) have been a major factor in maintaining the chaotic situation that pervades most of Iraq.

About the Author

Professor Saad N. Jawad joined the LSE Middle East Centre as Senior Visiting Fellow in December 2010. He is an Iraqi political scientist who taught at the University of Baghdad for more than 30 years. His interests include Iraqi Kurds, the war in Iraq and its effect on the Middle East and the regional influence of Iraq's neighbours.

His recent publications include: (with Sawsan al-Assaf), Iraqi Women between the Democracy of the Occupation and the American Principle of Humanitarian Intervention (in Arabic), Dar al-Jinan, 2013; and chapters in: Nevine Mosaad (ed.), The Decision Making in the Arab Regimes, Centre for Arab Unity Studies, 2010; and Ali K. Alkawari and A. Madi, (eds.), Towards a Historical Democratic Front in the Arab Countries, Centre for Arab Unity Studies, 2010.

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