The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
I am no expert in Arabic grammar, but the latest confusion caused by a threat by Iraq’s prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to dissolve parliament is so simple to clear up that even I can do it.
Apparently, the culprit are English versions of the Iraqi constitution and in particular a mistranslation of article 64 which governs dissolution of parliament. It should be emphasized at first that English versions of the Iraqi constitution cannot be relied upon since there is not an official one.
Their only value is that they may be faster to skim through for an English-speaking reader if something needs to be located fast, whereupon the relevant part of the Arabic version should be consulted.
Here is the relevant clause:
يُحل مجلس النواب، بالاغلبية المطلقة لعدد اعضائه، بناءً على طلبٍ من ثلث اعضائه، او طلبٍ من رئيس مجلس الوزراء وبموافقة رئيس الجمهورية
A reasonable translation would read roughly as follows:
“Parliament is dissolved by an absolute majority of its members, based upon a request from a third of its members or a request from the prime minister with the consent of the president.”
Now, possibly due to the insertion of several commas in the Arabic versions, some take this to read this as “parliament is dissolved by an absolute majority… or by a request from the prime minister with the consent of the president.”