Will Iraqi Kurdistan Ever Get New Constitution?

Logistical Road Blocks

Should some kind – indeed, any kind - of consensus be reached, then there are further logistical roadblocks the would-be Constitution needs to get past.

Firstly, the tenets of the Iraqi Kurdish Constitution should not violate any tenets of the federal, or Iraqi, Constitution. On the other hand, there are many people in Iraqi Kurdistan who believe that their Constitution should be completely independent of the federal one. Included in this is the idea of independence for Iraqi Kurdistan.

The second problem is concerned with the so-called disputed areas in Iraq. These are areas that Iraq says belong to the federal state whereas the Iraqi Kurdish believe they should be part of their semi-autonomous region. For example, current debate centres on Kirkuk.

This area, with a diverse population that includes Iraqis of both Kurdish and Arab ethnicity, is a disputed one. But it is currently controlled by Iraqi Kurdish military after the Iraqi army deserted the area thanks to attacks by the extremist group known as the Islamic State. Opinions on whether the Iraqi Kurdish should give Kirkuk back to Iraq once the security crisis is over are split.

And the third and final roadblock to the realisation of Iraqi Kurdistan's own Constitution is voting. If the draft Constitution is approved by two-thirds of Iraqi Kurdish MPs, then a referendum will be held that asks the people of the region for their approval too. However the way the security situation stands at the moment, this would be very difficult.

“If the Constitution Drafting Committee can reach a consensus and Parliament approves of it then I believe the people of Iraqi Kurdistan would also vote for the new Constitution,” says Nouri Talabani, a former member of an earlier Constitution Drafting Committee and constitutional expert. “The Constitution creates stability, builds democracy and pluralism and leads to a separation of powers and a respect for the rule of law.”

“Such a Constitution would gain Iraqi Kurdistan legitimacy,” adds Talabani, who hopes that the Constitution will have been completed before the end of this year, “and it will lead the region to more active participation in Middle Eastern development, reflecting Iraqi Kurdistan's political status.”

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