and the Fosbury Flop
Sunday 14 December 2003, a typical first reaction to the
capture of Saddam Hussein in East Oxford, England
the tiny patch of earth where I live was: Everything
the Americans say is a lie. It cant be Saddam.
Then, when it seemed pretty clear it was Saddam, the reaction
turned to: This is bad news because it will help
George Bush get re-elected.
Monday, Globolog spoke to Yasser Alaskary of the Iraqi
Prospect Organisation (IPO), a group set up by young exiles
in London which has now moved much of its activities to
wonderful he said on the phone from a vigil in central
London. Yasser, who took part in a debate on openDemocracy
exactly a year ago on the rights and wrongs of invasion,
had great happiness and warmth in his voice. Friends,
colleagues, everyone we know in Iraq feels like an enormous
burden has been lifted. People in the rest of the world
will find it hard to understand just how great our feeling
of relief is. The fact that he was so humiliated is deeply
important. He had such an aura, such extraordinary power
deep in peoples psyches for so many years.
any given hundred commentators may tell you, the future
of Iraq is still highly uncertain. Security, for one thing,
may not improve markedly any time soon. According to the
Washington Post, for example, in the eight months that
Saddam has been on the run, the resistance has gathered
a momentum of its own. The US authorities, meanwhile,
seem determined to accelerate transfer of some powers
to an Iraqi authority whose constitutional basis is still
to be determined.
and his friends at the IPO have been working on something
they believe can be part of a long-term solution. Over
the past few months, theyve held a series of roundtables
with young Iraqis in universities, young graduates and
members of youth organisations in Baghdad, Najaf, Al-Ramai,
and Nasiriya. They call the result, Iraqi Constitution
Iraqi Thoughts a humble, first step in the
necessary process of engagement with ordinary Iraqis.
IPO strongly opposes to define the constituent provincial
units of a future Iraqi federation so as to allow a balance
between local and central powers that will help avoid
the country falling into one of the two traps of anarchy/dictatorship
and separation. Too few units would strengthen tendencies
toward political separation, Yasser and his colleagues
believe; too many would undermine political stability
and economic progress.
are strongly against the kind of arrangement seen in countries
like Lebanon (from where I write), where different communities
and religious groups have divided up key government posts
between them (here, the speaker of the parliament is Shia,
while the president is a Christian). Instead, a two-chamber
legislature and president with executive powers should
be elected on the basis of proportional representation
We want people to stand up as Iraqis, says
of human rights and the rights of minorities, based on
the Universal Declaration, should be enforced by a parliamentary
ombudsman, with a mandate to review all legislation and
ensure its implementation does not impinge on any rights
in the constitution.
a few people may dismiss this proposal for Iraqs
future as pie in the sky. Its certainly not hard
to imagine a far less ideal arrangement coming into place,
resulting from local manoeuvring and US thoughtlessness.
just because something has never been done before does
not necessarily make it impossible. In 1968, a young man
from Oregon called Dick Fosbury jumped higher than had
ever been thought humanly feasible. He used a new technique,
called the Fosbury Flop. Now, everybody does it. Some
things are worth a try, even though you may well end up
face down in the earth or belly-up.