27 March 2004

Exceptional Ahmad

Chapter 7 of the Iraqi interim constitution needs to be read in the light of a couple of recent news reports.


Article 48

(A) The statute establishing the Iraqi Special Tribunal issued on 10 December 2003 is confirmed. That statute exclusively defines its jurisdiction and procedures, notwithstanding the provisions of this Law.

(B) No other court shall have jurisdiction to examine cases within the competence of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, except to the extent provided by its founding statute.

(C) The judges of the Iraqi Special Tribunal shall be appointed in accordance with the provisions of its founding statute.

Article 49

(A) The establishment of national commissions such as the Commission on Public Integrity, the Iraqi Property Claims Commission, and the Higher National De-Ba'athification Commission is confirmed, as is the establishment of commissions formed after this Law has gone into effect. The members of these national commissions shall continue to serve after this Law has gone into effect, taking into account the contents of Article 51, below.

(B) The method of appointment to the national commissions shall be in accordance with law.

Article 50

The Iraqi Transitional Government shall establish a National Commission for Human Rights for the purpose of executing the commitments relative to the rights set forth in this Law and to examine complaints pertaining to violations of human rights. The Commission shall be established in accordance with the Paris Principles issued by the United Nations on the responsibilities of national institutions. This Commission shall include an Office of the Ombudsman to inquire into complaints. This office shall have the power to investigate, on its own initiative or on the basis of a complaint submitted to it, any allegation that the conduct of the governmental authorities is arbitrary or contrary to law.

Article 51

No member of the Iraqi Special Tribunal or of any commission established by the federal government may be employed in any other capacity in or out of government. This prohibition is valid without limitation, whether it be within the executive, legislative, or judicial authority of the Iraqi Transitional Government. Members of the Special Tribunal may, however, suspend their employment in other agencies while they serve on the aforementioned Tribunal.

The powers of these commissions are defined by CPA orders and cannot be amended, not can their members be removed, without a decision of the National Assembly and a unanimous decision of the State Presidency. That would be bad, but the frequent repetition of ethics clauses in the constitution (Articles 31(B)(1) through (8), and 36(B) implies that the commissions can debar candidates. Whoever controls the debaathification commission controls candidacy to the National Assembly. Whoever controls the still to be formed integrity commission can initiate dismissal of members of the State Presidency.

The debaathification commission effectively has the vast resources of the Baath party to dispense in the form of patronage.

So the Iraqi Transitional Government's sovereignty is to be subject to Article 59 which gives the US control of Iraq's military, Article 48 which continues the power of independent commissions, and any appointments or legislative instruments issued by the CPA from the time of its formation until the alleged transition. Who, I wonder, might take advantage of the independent agencies to erect a parallel government?

In MSNBC - The Master Operator Newsweek reports, that despite being the least popular and least trusted IGC member:

Chalabi's other major source of strength is the De-Baathification Commission, which he heads. Its mandate - to work against former members of Saddam's regime and his Baath Party - is so wide-ranging that even one of Chalabi's aides calls it 'a government within the government.' It's empowered to oversee educational reform, track down Saddam's funds, purge senior Baathists from government jobs and occasionally reinstate those who can convince the commission they weren't complicit in Saddam's crimes. The backbone of the operation is a vast collection of secret documents seized from Saddam's files. To process them, according to one Chalabi aide, the De-Baathification Commission has 50 document scanners. There are only 20 other scanners in all the rest of the government.

That control can be maintained, despite Article 51, by the use of nephews and proxies as Chlabi is already doing with the Iraqi Special Tribunal. Note, BTW, that the TAL bill of rights does not apply to the tribunal under Article 48(A).

Lastly, from yesterdays' Guardian, we learn:

The United States will transfer power in Iraq to a hand-picked prime minister, abandoning plans for an expansion of the current 25-member governing council, according to coalition officials in Baghdad.

With fewer than 100 days before the US occupation authorities are due to transfer sovereignty, fear of wrangling among Iraqi politicians has forced Washington to make its third switch of strategy in six months.

The search is now on for an Iraqi to serve as chief executive. He will almost certainly be from the Shia Muslim majority, and probably a secular technocrat.

"There will be no [Paul] Bremer and there will be a prime minister," a coalition official told the Guardian yesterday. "That will be the biggest change with the transfer of sovereignty."

Mr Bremer is the US head of the coalition's provisional authority whose term expires on June 30 when the occupation formally ends.

Let's leave aside the fact that the TAL itself requires extensive deliberations and consultations, a process apparently being ignored. I wonder who that handpicked Shia technocrat might prove to be?

Voting Form | 2004 TV Fugly Awards

If you are a dedicated yet somewhat disgruntled television viewer, please take the opportunity to have your opinion heard by completing the online voting form below.

Just think about what has appeared on our screens over the 12 months and if you feel a paticular Australian televison show and/or TV personality deserves a Fugly, give them a vote. It's that easy!

Look, I know NSW is holding statewide elections for local councils, but that's a fugly process at best so you might as well vote for the real thing.

PS: Southerly Buster does not believe, gentle reader, that 'freakin' is the first element of 'fugly'.

Polish PM under pressure to quit

High unemployment, a malfunctioning health care system and a string of high profile corruption scandals are seen as the main causes of his unpopularity.

Budget cuts introduced ahead of the country's EU membership, aimed at bringing its economy into line with EU requirements, have contributed to the problems.

Mr Miller, who stepped down as the leader of his party last month, made it clear that he would like to stay on until after Poland joins the EU on 1 May.

But his announcement that he would hold a joint news conference with President Aleksander Kwasniewski on Friday evening renewed speculation he might be about to resign.

His resignation could trigger early parliamentary elections.

However, analysts say the government could probably muster enough votes in parliament to avoid this.

The war is not mentioned as an issue, but you have to wonder what effect an early parliamentary election in Poland might have on the coalition of the wilting. Are we to look forward to the Foreign Minister of Kleenex delivering a new encomium titled 'The things that shatter'?

26 March 2004

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961

Article 41, Section1. Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.

Someone send a copy to the US embassy.

24 March 2004

Draining the Language out of Color

In the mid-1960s Berlin and Kay ended up at Berkeley. They had their graduate students scour the Bay Area for native speakers of foreign languages, quizzing them with standard color chips, not unlike those used as samples for paint. Their object was to establish the meanings of basic color terms--that is, those that could not be analyzed into simpler terms (such as 'blue-green') and were not defined as characteristic of a given object (such as 'salmon'). Later Berlin and Kay collaborated with other researchers to expand their sample to 110 languages.

Color lexicons vary, first of all, in sheer size: English has 11 basic terms, Russian and Hungarian have 12, yet the New Guinean language Dani has just two. One of the two encompasses black, green, blue and other 'cool' colors; the other encompasses white, red, yellow and other 'warm' colors. Those languages with only three terms almost always have 'black-cool,' 'white-light' and 'red-yellow-warm.' Those having a fourth usually carve out 'grue' from the 'black-cool' term.

The tree of possibilities turned out to have branching points, some of them rather rare. Still, the manner in which languages can build up their color words is tightly constrained, suggesting the existence of universal constraints on semantic variation.

I've always been a sucker for Spair-Whorf, relatively speaking.

The al-Zawahiri fiasco

It featured all the trappings of a glorified video game. Thousands of Pakistani army and paramilitary troops played the hammer. Hundreds of US troops and Special Forces, plus the elite commando 121, were ready to play the anvil across the border in Afghanistan. What was supposed to be smashed in between was 'high-value target' Ayman al-Zawahiri, as Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf enthusiastically bragged - with no hard evidence - to an eager CNN last Thursday. But what happened to this gigantic piece of psy-ops? Nothing. And for a very simple reason: al-Qaeda's brain and Osama bin Laden's deputy was never there in the first place. And even if he was, as Taliban-connected sources in Peshawar told Asia Times Online, he would choose to die as a martyr rather than be captured and paraded as a US trophy.

It now appears that world public opinion fell victim to a Musharraf-inspired web of disinformation. In the early stages of the battle west of Wana in South Waziristan, Taliban spokesman Abdul Samad, speaking by satellite telephone from Kandahar province in Afghanistan, was quick to say that talk of al-Zawahiri being cornered was 'just propaganda by the US coalition and by the Pakistani army to weaken Taliban morale'. Subsequently, Peshawar sources were quoting al-Qaeda operatives from inside Saudi Arabia as saying that both bin Laden and al-Zawahiri had left this part of the tribal areas as early as January.

On the Afghan side, General Atiquallah Ludin at the Defense Ministry in Kabul was saying that 'al-Qaeda cannot escape or enter Afghan soil'. But by this time the majority of the mujahideen previously based in South Waziristan had already managed to cross back to Paktika province in Afghanistan - mostly to areas around Urgun, Barmal and Gayan. This rugged, mountainous territory is quintessentially Taliban. Many local Pashtun tribals don't even know who (Afghan president) Hamid Karzai is.

The Taliban was once a wholly-owned and -operated subsidiary of Pakistan's ISI. The agency still contains a number of Taliban allies. Is it really any surprise that Pakistan's army 1. launched this operation on the splendidly propitious occasion of their promotion to the same alliance status as Australia and 2. the birds seem to have flown long before a single soldier set foot in South Waziristan?

23 March 2004

Censure Debate 22 March

[Federal Opposition Leader] Mr LATHAM All the rhetoric about the axis of evil was their big neoconservative contribution to the war against terror, and now they cannot stomach the truth. They cannot stomach the truth of their policy failings. Having committed Australia for a core purpose that was not realised - a core purpose that was not true in Iraq - they now cannot stomach the truth when it comes from the mouth of the Australian Federal Police Commissioner.

The real truth, Prime Minister, is this: the war against terror is primarily an intelligence war. It is not a war primarily against nation states. We have to target the terrorists. In fact, the conflict in Iraq diverted resources away from that process of targeting the terrorists - al-Qaeda and bin Laden. The capacity of intelligence to track them down and do something about them is the key to winning the war against terror. It is not the folly of Iraq; it is not the errors that this government made in committing Australia to that conflict. Now the government should simply accept the truth of what Commissioner Keelty has been saying - the truth that, sure, Australia was a target at the time of September 11 but the conflict and policy making for Iraq has made the situation even worse.

This is the thing that we need to appreciate. This is the reason why the Prime Minister should be censured by the House. You cannot trust the Howard government with Australia's national security. It is always playing politics, instead of putting the national interest first. The Prime Minister's actions have disgraced the high office that he holds. He should not put narrow political interest ahead of the national interest - never. That is never in the best interests of our great country, and he should be censured by this parliament accordingly.

The censure was (of course) rejected on party lines, but this is a powerful critique. Today's Newspoll confirms it as a critique Australians accept by a majority of 2/3. Tim is blogging up a storm on the Clarke allegations while Obsidian Wings has interesting stuff confirming those allegations.More on the issues side of the Newspoll later.

No torture please, we're Australian

The Joint Committee on Treaties has recommended the government not ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The protocol sets up an inspection mechanism and requires signatory states to maintain preventive mechanisms against torture. Australia has already signed the Convention, so it cannot be any problem with the definition of torture in the convention.

I'll read the report, which might take a while, and see what it has to say. At first glance it looks suspiciously like this is just the usual stuff about the evils of the UN human rights machinery. I agree that machinery is gravely deficient.

The necessary reforms are to ensure that nations which do not comply with the 'International Bill of Rights' do not get seats on the UN Human Rights Commission. Weakening the machinery of compliance does not assist those reforms. Its just another case of the Howard government saying they'll decide who monitors our human rights performance and under what conditions.

In nations where (unlike Australia) there are regular and gross violations of human rights, we just made it a lot easier to argue against inspections by invoking the shibboleth of national sovereignty.

22 March 2004

Iraq's Sistani Warns UN Not to Back Constitution

'We warn that any such step will not be acceptable to the majority of Iraqis and will have dangerous consequences,' said the 73-year cleric, who has been assuming a larger role in politics although he does not favor a theocracy in Iraq.

Annan said last week he would send a team to Iraq as soon as possible to help form an interim government in response to an invitation from the U.S.-installed Iraqi Governing Council.

Sistani had criticized Brahimi and Annan for a report they wrote, which agreed with U.S. authorities that general elections needed months of preparation and were not feasible considering a lack of security.

The Shi'ites wanted elections before June 30, the date Washington set to hand back sovereignty to an unelected Iraqi government.

The report angered Sistani and millions of his followers eager to take power after political dominance over Iraq by Sunni Arabs, a minority concentrated in central Iraq.

Under the interim constitution, which was passed earlier this month, elections are due by 2005.

Sistani said the interim constitution was unworkable because it establishes a three-person presidential council composed of a Sunni Muslim, a Kurd and a Shi'ite Muslim who would be required to take unanimous decisions.

'This builds a basis for sectarianism. Consensus would not be reached unless there is pressure from a foreign power, or a deadlock would be reached that destabilizes the country and could lead to break-up,' Sistani said.

My biggest problem with the interim constitution is Chapter 7. I'll put up my piece on that in the next day or so.

I guess the most important question about the constitution's paralytocracy is raised by al-Sistani. If the system only works in the presence of a foreign power, who is that likely to be? We already have Gen Abizaid saying he will resolve any disputes and we have Article 59 allowing him to do that.

Godzilla to trample landmarks

Giant lizard monster Godzilla is set to crush the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in his 28th and final film.

Final Wars will feature Godzilla fighting 10 other monsters in several well-known locations around the world, including New York, Shanghai and Paris.

I'm not completely sure what it means for the state of the world that a city gains face when a man dressed in rubber demolishes its most prominent landmarks. I'm not even sure I want to think about it.

The Bush doctrine has been turned on its head

What seems to have happened is more insidious.

The notion of a bin Laden chain of command has been superseded by a sort of McDonald's of terrorism, franchise cells and groups that want to be like al-Qaeda, carrying a torch for the man in the cave without ever receiving direct orders. The word simply goes out in the Arab media and it is absorbed - war against the US. And when they strike, they pack the punch by claiming that it was done in the name of al-Qaeda.

The CIA director, George Tenet, told the US Senate as much this month when he said: 'A serious threat will remain for the foreseeable future, with or without al-Qaeda in the picture.'

And Blair's special representative for Iraq, Jeremy Greenstock, almost as though he was surprised by the outcome, applied the Tenet dictum to Iraq when he warned of the damage to the country and its people from terrorism. 'Something new has grown in this area. It has happened in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Colombia, in the Middle East peace process and now it's threatening Western Europe - it's already happened in Madrid.

'Iraq is a now a theatre where they're trying to maximise this damage.'

Between them, it is an admission that the war in Iraq has helped al-Qaeda and its followers.

Ah, but what about all that progress in resolving the Palestinian question, and the spread of democracy across the Middle East, and the flowers, and the rose water, and the occupation that would pay for itself, and take no more troops than the invasion, and the end of combat operations last May?

Iraq reprisal: US envoy at odds with PM

The Madrid train bombings were probably carried out in reprisal for Spain's support of the Iraq war, says the US ambassador to Australia, Tom Schieffer.

Mr Schieffer also suggested that the attack was part of an al-Qaeda attempt to split the nations of the West and undermine commitment to the war on terrorism.

The concession that the attack could have been a reprisal over Iraq puts the ambassador at odds with the Prime Minister, John Howard, by echoing comments a week ago by the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty.

Senior government ministers savagely rebuked Mr Keelty for suggesting a link between Iraq and the targeting of Madrid.

While Mr Schieffer supported the Federal Government's argument that Islamic fundamentalist terrorists hate us 'for what we are, not for what we've done', he also suggested that they had a strategy of trying to pick off allies in the war on terrorism.

Mr Ambassador? I have the prime minister's chief of staff on line 1...

How can Spain have suffered reprisals if terrorist groups attack because of who we are, not what we have done?

If they hate the democracies for merely existing why do we keep hearing that they hate Australia for East Timor?

Both propositions cannot be true.

Toe the line on Iraq or the boot goes in

The Howard Government has hotly denied both the connection between these bombings and Iraq, and their significance for Australia. According to the Prime Minister, Australia has been an al-Qaeda target since our role in the liberation of East Timor from Indonesian rule. We are targeted, he continued, not for what we have done but for who we are - a Western democracy. While al-Qaeda might be genuinely interested in Afghanistan because of its links with the Taliban, it was only pretending, for propaganda purposes, to be interested in Iraq.

Every Howard argument is unconvincing. If we were first targeted as a result of East Timor, how can it simultaneously be argued that we are a target not because of what we have done but who we are? If East Timor is important to al-Qaeda, how can it be argued that Iraq is irrelevant? East Timor is, at most, at the periphery of the Muslim world. Iraq is near its heart. Most importantly, the argument that while al-Qaeda is genuinely concerned about Afghanistan it is pretending to be concerned about Iraq, suggests an astonishing ignorance of the ideological world-view of bin Laden.

I have a different explanation. The Man of Steel has nailed his colours to George Bush. His arguments therefore have to match Bush's, no matter how illogical those might be. That's going to make for an interesting election campaign when it is called. My guess is that Howard will go to the country well before Bush has to face his own electorate.

21 March 2004

Chess! What is it good for?

The board game Go, known in China as weiqi, is a game of territory and encirclement, and has long been linked with warfare. Some of the earliest military references appear during the Dong Han dynasty, from AD25 to AD220. They describe weiqi as a game of war, and some modern scholars infer that the Chinese might at that time have been using it to model military strategies. Mao Zedong reportedly insisted his generals study weiqi - and there are rumours that today senior members of the Chinese military must be proficient at the game to progress through the highest ranks, says Jason Scholz of Australia's defence science and technology organisation.

The Persian game of Shatranj is believed to be adapted from the Indian chess-precursor Chaturanga (although there are some scholars who argue that Shatranj came first). Like the Indian version, the Persian game includes elephant pieces and horses, and Persian nobles were taught Shatranj as part of training in military strategy. It has even been suggested that pawns' ability to move two squares in their opening move in modern chess is a Persian modification, to better model a strategy in which foot soldiers with spears rushed ahead of the rest of the attacking army - but the true origins of military influences on chess, and the game itself, remain murky.

The build-up to the war in Iraq coincided with the first results from the chess simulations run by Jason Scholz and his team. 'We watched with great interest the dialogue between General [Tommy} Franks, who wanted to use more materiel, and Donald Rumsfeld who wanted a fast tempo and lighter units,' Scholz says. Based on the chess results, which favoured a fast, decisive attack strategy, Scholz says his advice would have been to go along with the US defence secretary's ideas. 'In the end, there was a compromise,' he says. 'But a relatively fast tempo did really gain a very decisive, rapid advantage in Iraq.' However, trying to win a battle as quickly as possible might not always be the best strategy, he adds: 'You can win a battle quickly but hearts and minds are not so easily won - and of course we do have continuing trouble in Iraq.'

The Younger Avesta claims that Zoroaster invented chess to explain the meaning of things to King Vishtaspa. It's a nice tale that deserves to be true, but probably is not.

I used to play large and complex boardgames with actual people. We were all close friends and fairly social. Sadly, Civilisation was released and we all retired to our solitary and antisocial keyboards.

Did Bush Press For Iraq-9/11 Link?

'Frankly,' he said, 'I find it outrageous that the President is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know.'

Clarke went on to say, 'I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism.'

The No. 2 man on the president's National Security Council, Stephen Hadley, vehemently disagrees. He says Mr. Bush has taken the fight to the terrorists, and is making the U.S. homeland safer.

Clarke says that as early as the day after the attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was pushing for retaliatory strikes on Iraq, even though al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan.

Clarke suggests the idea took him so aback, he initally thought Rumsfeld was joking.

More later when the full transcript is available.

Canada Got it Right on Iraq

What lessons should Canada learn from the Iraq experience? First and foremost, that values matter in foreign policy. Reduced to its basics, participation in the Iraq war would have meant sending young Canadians to kill, and be killed by, young Iraqis for the sake of maintaining friendly relations with Washington.

Second, going along to get along has never made good public policy, or good politics, either. The Canadian government looked at the evidence Washington presented and voted its conscience. Another government, the Spanish, looked at the same evidence, and voted its interests, specifically its interests with Washington. One is in office and the other is not.

Third, the Iraq war demonstrates the limits of intelligence. The U.S. administration and others made intelligence pivotal to their decision-making. The Canadian government used it as one input among many. One government is embarrassed and the other is not. Time, and enquiries, will tell whether the intelligence in the United States and Britain was just catastrophically bad, politically manipulated or both. The Canadian analysis was better.

Fourth, Canada does not have to choose between the UN and the United States. To be respected in Washington, we need to be effective in the world, including at the UN. The converse is also true; effectiveness in New York depends on visible influence in Washington.

Finally, we should not shrink from disagreeing with U.S. administrations when they are wrong any more than we should shrink from agreeing with them when they are right. We should call them as we see them. We did so on Iraq, and we have been vindicated.

Really, this is a Canadian version of the Powell doctrine Australia should have followed it a year ago. We should follow it in the future.

Building a better paralytocracy

The Iraqi interim constitution requires a two-thirds vote:

  • in the National Assembly

    • Article 36(A) to elect the Presidency Council
    • Article 36(A) to elect a replacement to a vacancy in the Presidency Council
    • Article 37 to pass a bill vetoed by the Presidency Council
    • Article 38(B) to nominate a prime minister if the Presidency Council cannot agree on one

  • in the Supreme Court

    • Article 44(B0(1) and (D) to rule on disputes between different levels of government

  • in the electorate

    • to be one of 3 provinces rejecting the permanent constitution

Article 36(C) of the interim constitution requires a unanimous vote in the Presidency Council to make any decision.

Article 3 of the interim constitution requires a three-quarters vote in the National Assembly and a unanimous vote in the Presidency Council to amend the constitution itself or the not yet written Annex.

Suermajorities are not unusual. However a unanimity rule for the executive is, especially when that carries a veto on constitutional amendments. There's an old joke that the Australian constitution was written to punish New South Wales, the largest state. This constitution not only punishes the Shi'ites, it deprives the whole system of any real chance of working. Iraq has no tradition of liberal democracy, or even familiarity with the kinds of parliamentary compromises that are necessary to keep constitutional structure working.

Weirdly enough, the constitution abandons the supermajority principle when it comes to electing the Assembly president:

The president of the National Assembly shall be the individual who receives the greatest number of votes for that office; the first deputy president the next highest; and the second deputy president the next.

That system was used until 1800 to elect US presidents. It is an unpredictable and unaccountable system that tends to produce splits and disputes. See the Jefferson/Burr election. Depending on the number of Shi'ite candidates for the presidency it could feasibly produce an Assembly Speaker diametrically opposed to the Presidency Council and the Prime Minister. Equally (and the system's impact is unpredictable) it could produce an Assembly President tightly tied to those groups. We are not even told whether each deputy gets one vote or 3 in electing the Assembly Presidency or what the relationship is between the Assembly's president, first deputy president and second deputy president.

Finally, nowhere are we told (in clear terms) whether a two-thirds vote means 2/3 of all deputies or 2/3 of those present and voting, although that might be clearer in the Arabic original.

Under this arrangement, the most obvious solution is a deal with the Kurds. That would give the Shi'ites working control of the Presidency Council and the National Assembly. The Sunni will feel as isolated as they do now. Are they likely to argue for amendments to the terms of the constitution, or simply to call in question the thing's dubious legitimacy?

Can Iraq embrace democracy?

The man most likely to be Iraq's first Shiite president, the bespectacled and scholarly looking Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, has taken over the riverfront mansion that was home to Tariq Aziz, the man who was Saddam's deputy and who now languishes in a US-run prison. One of his key advisers is Dr Hamid al-Bayati, a recently returned exile. In an interview, he offers a little more meat for the bones of an Iraqi democracy: 'We have to take Iraqi reality into account - we can't copy any one democratic system in the world and apply it here.'

But, unlike some here, he is not shy about stating what to Shiites is obvious: 'I have to be frank and say that all the Iraqi minorities are worried about the Shiites having a majority - especially the Sunnis. But this is the reality and we can't change the make-up of the Iraqi people.

'It's obvious that the Shiite majority of the people will elect a Shiite majority in the assembly. They have tried to provoke us with the attack that killed our former leader and then with the attacks on our most emotional holy day (which killed close to 200 Shiite worshippers at mosques in Baghdad and Karbala on March 2). But so far we have not responded - we realise there is a conspiracy to provoke a civil war between us and the Sunnis. But it's not just up to the Shiites. It's up to all in the community to stop the push for war.'

However, despite all the Shiites' public anxiety about the draft constitution, Bayati claims that even if the Shiites fail to have it rewritten, they will accept the interim charter as it is written.

Many Iraqi leadership figures think 'tribe' and 'mosque' before thinking 'nation' of the land that lies within borders that Britain carved out in the time of Lawrence of Arabia.

Since occupying Iraq, the US has been reluctant to harness either of these dominant power structures to its own ends. Instead, it has attempted to thwart what seems like an inevitable majority Shiite rise to power and to sidestep the tribes, despite the fact that no regime, Saddam's included, has survived without their support.

The occupation of Iraq is not an especially new phenomenon. McGeough cites Panama and Grenada as the only democratic outcomes for 16 US military interventions this century. The present chaos in Haiti is at least in part the outcome of a US intervention.

We were always told Iraq would be different, but thus far the only difference has been the extraordinary reluctance of its promoters to accept responsibility for anything from the original casus belli to the present state of the country. The new constitution merely sets up a paralytocracy which will not even command its own forces or territory.

Para-States - Liberation Movements, Terrorist Organizations and Others

This directory of para-states is not a list of terrorist organizations, and is not constructed to supplement or complement the list of terrorist organizations of the US Department of State. The guide intentionally casts a wide net, and includes both the nasty and nice.

Worth glancing over, despite their inclusion of groups like al-Qa'ida, CNRT and the Free Papua Movement in the same list.

Although somewhat out-of-date the list is valuable because it really makes you ask (again) why Bush chose to prosecute a war on parastates by attacking the state of Iraq. The Afghan situation is different because al-Qa'ida and the Taliban had become so close that they were effectively operating as a single entity. That is why so few opposed Afghanistan and so many opposed Iraq.

Equally important, the list establishes that there is not one, but a whole constellation of jihadi parastates. Destroying al-Qa'ida would be an excellent thing. It would not necessarily prevent attacks by other parastates like JI or Salafiya Jihadiya.