The Daily Dispatch generally doesn’t do document dumps. But when Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki announced the National Unity Government on May 20, the event was so important, and the MSM follow-up was so shallow, that we have decided to reprint the entire 34-point program he enunciated, with some light commentary of our own.
As poorly as MSM treats our Soldiers and Marines, Iraqi patriots are treated even worse. Iraqi democrats who risk their lives daily to oppose Baathist tyranny and jihadist terror are treated variously as Keystone cops, mad mullahs, nefarious liars, or argumentative idiots. This, as you will read, is an injustice.
ABC, CBS, NBC, and the New York Times treated the democratic aspirations of Nelson Mandala with respect. They treated the democracy movements of Ukraine, Lebanon, and Burma with respect. But somehow, the presence of U.S. boots-on-the-ground poisons the virtues of Iraqi democrats.
Below is the program that Prime Minister Al-Maliki enunciated on May 20, as translated by the Iraqi National Congress. You can find a parallel translation by the Multi-National Force-Iraq, including a link to the full Iraqi Constitution, at:
“The Government sets forth this Program within a framework that works to preserve the unity of the Iraqi people of all creeds and ethnicities, aiming to build a constitutional, democratic, unitary, and pluralistic Iraq that will abide by the constitution and the law and that guarantees the rights and freedoms of all Iraqis, ensuring the active participation of women as well as strengthening the role of civil society organizations by encouraging their development and ensuring their independence. The National Unity Government is composed of all the winning slates in the election who also declare their commitment to the principles and basics of this Program, which are:
1) The composition of the National Unity Government based on the representation of all the components of Iraqi society according to the election results and the interests of the country.
Comment: Al-Maliki, formerly spokesman for the UIA – the Shiite parties that collectively, form the largest parliamentary block — reaffirms his commitment to including other slates that won representation. This is a good idea for a young democracy, which needs to broaden its legitimacy. It is, for instance, what George Washington did when he assigned the top cabinet posts in the first government under the U.S. Constitution to ideological foes Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
2) To work according to the constitution and abide by it, and that any future changes will occur according to article 142 of the constitution.
Comment: This is a provision for a “Bill of Rights” – a group of amendments, enacted simultaneously, that will define the limits of the central government vis-à-vis the states (governates) and the people. Al-Maliki assures all parties that constitutional changes will be public, democratic, reflective of a consensus, and protective of minority rights, as provided in the Iraqi constitution. Here’s how Article 142 reads:
First: The Council of Representatives shall form at the beginning of its work a committee from its members representing the principal components of the Iraqi society with the mission of presenting to the Council of Representatives, within a period not to exceed four months, a report that contains recommendations of the necessary amendments that could be made to the Constitution, and the committee shall be dissolved after a decision is made regarding its proposals.
Second: The proposed amendments shall be presented to the Council of Representatives all at once for a vote upon them, and shall be deemed approved with the agreement of the absolute majority of the members of the Council.
Third: The articles amended by the Council of Representatives pursuant to item “Second” of this Article shall be presented to the people for voting on them in a referendum within a period not exceeding two months from the date of their approval by the Council of Representatives.
Fourth: The referendum on the amended Articles shall be successful if approved by the majority of the voters, and if not rejected by two-thirds of the voters in three or more governates.
Note that the first and second sections guarantee consensus for changes; the second and third guarantee democracy; and the fourth protects minority rights.
3) To pursue a policy of national dialogue and work to widen political participation within a constitutional framework in order to build a free, pluralistic, unitary, and democratic Iraq in the spirit of honesty and reconciliation.
Comment: This is the first of many iterations of the formula for a system that is democratic and federal.
4) The Rejection of violence and the clear denunciation of fascist and sectarian agendas. Denouncing terrorism in all its forms and joining all efforts to fight it by implementing anti-terrorism laws in an effective way through the judiciary and related state institutions. Creating the right conditions to establish an atmosphere of love and tolerance amongst the citizens of the country with respect for international standards of human rights.
Comment: The religious parties that dominate the Council of Representatives acknowledge that their rights will be better persevered by a cooperative democracy than by sectarian or totalitarian confrontation.
5) Protecting the sovereignty of Iraq and reinforcing its independence and unity and dealing with the issue of the presence of the Multi National Forces according to Security Council Resolution 1546, and speeding up the plans of completing the preparation of the Iraqi forces in accordance with the constitution and the principles of professionalism and national loyalty. Speeding up the process of transferring security responsibilities and powers to the Iraqi army, police, and security forces. Also emphasizing the principle of cooperation between Iraq and the Multi National Forces in a way that will enable the achievement of self reliance in accordance with an objective timetable so that the Iraqi forces may assume the security task in full and the end of the missions of the Multi National Forces and their return to their countries.
Comment: Prime Minister Nouri Al-Tikriti, mindful both of national pride, and the political pressures in the U.S. and Britain, announces his intention to accelerate the development of the Iraqi Defense Forces. In his first interview with NBC News, he announced his goal of achieving security autonomy by the end of 2007.
6) Strengthening state institutions and building a state based on the rule of law. Espousing principles of administration and institutionalism and rejecting autocratic and arbitrary decision-making, regarding ministries and state institutions as national entities that are the property of the people and not a particular party’s or minister’s dominion, and preventing the monopolization, domination or control of government, administration, or public institutions by any sect or group.
Comment: Al-Maliki declares that the new government will attempt to replace a spoils system with a professional approach to the ministries.
7) Rejecting autocracy, dictatorship, sectarianism, and racism in all its forms and incorporating this attitude in all government policies and practices.
Comment: The commitment to democracy and minority rights, both ethnic and religious, is reaffirmed.
8) Women constitute half of society and are nurturers of the other half, and therefore must take an active role in building the society and the state. Their rights should be respected in all fields.
Comment: A unique assertion in the constitutions of the Arab world.
9) The youth are the hope of the future, therefore all necessities to create a good and suitable atmosphere for them to develop their talents and capabilities should be made available, in what helps to build a patriotic Iraq and values.
10) Maintaining religious shrines, developing them, and providing full support for their security and the security of pilgrims as well as promoting religious tourism.
Comment: the state will treat the shrines of its varied religious components with respect – AND as a potential sources of revenue.
11) Supporting universities and ensuring their independence. Reviewing the syllabuses at all stages of education in order to update and rid them of fascist and sectarian ideology, thus reinforcing national unity.
Comment: this means purging Iraqi textbooks of the Baathist propaganda with which they were saturated prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
12) Ensuring the independence of the Iraqi Media Network, and the National Communications Council and preventing Government interference in their affairs, and adhering to the laws that regulate their work.
Comment: a bold assertion of the independence of the press from government – quite unique in the Middle East.
13) Drafting a comprehensive plan for reconstruction and development, taking into consideration the reality of deprivation, injustice and underdevelopment that affected the areas and their inhabitants as a result of the policies and the despotism of the previous regime.
Comment: Al-Maliki assures the northern and southern governates that their forced deprivation under Saddam is a thing of the past.
14) Reinvigorating the process of reconstruction and giving priority to damaged and deprived areas.
15) Speeding up the reconstruction of the electricity sector.
16) Regulating the hydrocarbon (oil and gas) sector by issuing legislation that ensures the rights of future federal units and provinces in relation to it are upheld in accordance with the constitution.
Comment: The Constitution validates several approaches to the allocation of oil wealth, pending legislative action. Regional claims, based on the geography of oil, and a universal claim, based on Iraqi citizenship, are asserted. Different coalitions will assert these principles in differing proportions. The good news is that the major factions acknowledge the legitimacy of both.
17) Encouraging investment and attracting national and international capital in a way that helps development and reconstruction and preserves national unity.
Comment: Under Saddam’s dictatorship, foreign investment was discouraged both in theory and in practice. Iraqi law limited foreign ownership, and thus the return that investors from developed economies could anticipate. But Iraqi practice was worse, disregarding property rights ubiquitously. When Coalition troops invaded, they found Iraq’s critical infrastructure – oil, electricity and water – outdated, poorly maintained, and, in many respects, unsalvageable. The final sentence in section 17) is a warning to the Kurds: Do not enter into oil agreements with foreign governments outside the national framework.
18) Giving utmost attention to the agricultural and industrial sectors, issuing suitable legislation and providing government support necessary for their development.
19) The government is a single united body representing Iraq and the people of Iraq that is selected through the mechanism of free elections. The relationship between the federal government and the local government and council is to be regulated in a way that reinforces the principle of federalism and decentralization in building the country and developing the relationship between the federal units of Iraq.
Comment: Principles of democracy and federalism are herein reasserted.
20) Building a relationship of friendship, mutual respect and cooperation with neighboring countries and the world in a way that achieves the common interests of Iraq and those countries without interfering in their internal affairs. The adoption of dialogue and negotiations to solve any outstanding issues.
21) Reinforcing the essential role of future federal units and the provincial councils. Holding free and fair elections for provincial councils and relying on them to run these provinces and federal units and regulating the relationship between them and the central government according to the constitution and the laws regulating this matter.
22) The government commits itself to the implementation of article 140 of the constitution, that relies on article 58 of the TAL that specifies 3 stages: normalization, census, and referendum in Kirkuk and other areas of unresolved status. Following its formation, the government will start taking the necessary steps for the normalization procedures which include returning towns and villages that were originally part of Kirkuk, this stage ends on the 29th of March 2007, then the census stage starts from the 31st of July 2007 and the last stage which is the referendum will be finalized on the 15th of November 2007.
Comment: In section 17), the Kurds are warned not to “go their own way” in claiming and allocating resources outside of the Iraqi federal system. The current section reassures them that the Iraqi federal system will take full account of their historic claims. The provincial status of Kirkuk, an oil-rich area that suffered mass deportations of Kurds under Saddam, will be determined by a local referendum, which will be preceded by opportunities for repatriation.
23) The government commits itself to tackling the security situation through the adoption of a comprehensive plan that incorporates security, economic, social and other elements, and all the elements are to be followed up with the same level of attention.
Comment: Though it sounds clichéd to Western ears, the concept of an approach to crime that is social as well as punitive is novel in Iraq.
24) Adopting the principle of justice and efficiency in running the country and in the distribution of responsibilities and employment in government offices, the army, the police, the security apparatus and embassies in a way that allows fair participation and the improvement of professional standards.
Comment: Government in general, and the security posts in particular, will be open to all groups, but professionalized and removed from a sectarian spoils system.
25) Setting up effective mechanisms for monitoring expenditure and dealing with administrative and financial corruption, and acting on the relevant constitutional articles and adhering to them.
Comment: This government knows that it may survive or perish on its ability to limit the levels of bribery and theft that the the Ba’ath Party normalized, and that plagued the transitional government under Prime Minister Jaafari.
26) Developing a social welfare system to deal with issues of poverty and underdevelopment.
27) Developing the institutions of education and scientific research that serve the construction of the new Iraq and being in line with the needs of progress and development.
28) Reviewing the structure and the laws governing the independent commissions and supporting their roles, which includes the Supreme National Debaathification Comiittee and the Anti-corruption Committee, in a way that does not contradict the constitution and its amendments.
Comment: Al-Takriti, who rose politically through Debaathification, reassures (and warns) the Sunnis that the political limits placed on former Baathists by the democracy will be open to review and modification.
29) Reviewing the electoral law and the formation of the Electoral Commission.
Comment: Iraqis have little experience with holding elections, and even less experience with losing elections. The government reassures the minority parties that the Commission that runs elections will remain open to complaints of electoral irregularities.
30) Work to control the international borders and their crossing points and the utilization of relevant constitutional articles in this regard.
Comment: Al-Maliki intends to take a hard line on foreign jihadits crossing into Iraq.
31) Work to stop forced deportations from all parts of the country, and return deportees to their original habitats.
Comment: This is a warning to the groups engaging in “ethnic cleansing” in certain Baghdad neighborhoods, and also a reassurance to those Kurds and Shiites displaced by Baathist policy.
32) Fostering scientific talent and providing the secure atmosphere and suitable living standards to prevent migration outside the country and attract those that have left to return.
Comment: Although there has been a net return of Iraqi exiles since the end of major combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom, there has been a recent outflow of the Sunni middle class, particularly in the Baghdad area. Al-Maliki is expressing the unity government’s determination to reestablish security for Iraqi professionals.
33) Setting up of a governmental committee immediately following the formation of the cabinet with a task of following up the issues of the detained, involving the judicial system by referring the accused to the courts, and immediately releasing those who were detained without a court order and encouraging Iraqi and international organizations to follow up the files of the detained and visiting detention centers and meeting detainees without obstacles.
34) Implementing law 91 relating to the militias.
Comment: Al-Maliki is committed to the eradication of independent party and sectarian militias, and to their integration, where possible, into the Iraqi Security Forces.
It remains to be seen how much of this program is practical, and how much of that Al-Maliki and his colleagues will achieve. But the ideals contained therein reflect well upon its designers’ character, and the program’s detailed calculations reflect well on their political intelligence.
These men are Iraq’s Founding Fathers.