Thursday, October 20, 2005

Oil and the constitution

Jeff Weintraub, writing at Normblog quotes Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer :
Nor can Sistani always control Shiite politicians. Despite his opposition, key Shiite leaders demanded the right to form a regional confederation in southern Iraq that would control much of Iraq's future oil flow and enshrined that right in the constitution.
The constitution also asserted two other things: that the oil belonged to the Iraqi people; and that its revenues were to be shared between all regions.

Weintraub, however, goes on to make an important point:
Although Sunni Arabs amount to 20% of the Iraqi population at most, as the long-time dominant minority they have disproportionate military capacities and expertise, especially since many of the Ba'athist organizational and secret-police networks remain active. They also have support from the rest of the Arab world, where Sunni Arabs are the dominant majority (and are mostly appalled at the idea of Iraq being run by a bunch of Shiites and Kurds). As my friend Ben Braude has argued, the fact that Sunni Arabs are a small minority within Iraq but a heavy majority in the region (unlike South African whites - or, one might add, Lebanon's Maronite Christians) is undoubtedly a crucial factor in shaping their perception of the situation.
More comments on Iraq at Mick Hartley's.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To follow up on my point that Jeff Weintraub cited. The Ba'ath situation in Iraq and Syria are illuminatingly reversed. In Syria, a secular sociolisant marxisant Arab nationalist party, the Ba'ath, is the vehicle for individuals from a tiny and bizarre Shiite sect (the Alawites) to rule a Sunni majority country. In Iraq a secular - - Kanaan Makiya's arguments notwithstanding - - sociolisant marxisant Arab nationalist party, once again the Ba'ath, has been the vehicle for individuals from a small Sunni clan (the Tikritis) to rule a Shiite-Kurdish majority country. How malleable are the claims of ideology. How self-deceiving are humans in their lust for power.

Benjamin Braude

3:53 pm, October 20, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, excellent website. A great Iraq resource is Deaths in Iraq. It breaks all of the casualties down by age, race, branch of the military, country, etc.

9:16 pm, November 06, 2005  

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