December 16

The Iraqis could do worse than return to being a constitutional monarchy.

Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy takes no position on matters relating to the nation's foreign policy, except where it touches on our mission. Nevertheless, readers may be interested in the way in which the constitutional monarchy in Iraq was removed without the consent of the people, and replaced by a brutal dictatorship.

Perhaps you hadn't noticed. It is now clear that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were in cahoots, and that from the early 1990s. This involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, and al Qa'ida training camps and a safe haven in Iraq. There are even indications that Mohammed Atta, one of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 outrage, may have been financed by Saddam.

All of this is contained in a leaked US government memorandum sent in confidence to the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was published by The Weekly Standard in its 24 November 2003 issue. And in case you have doubts, the details are there in chapter and verse.

Now it could be argued this is massive fabrication – but nobody has yet made any cogent argument along these lines. It has been either ignored or downplayed by most of the media. Any conclusion that this was not newsworthy is astounding, given the space and airtime devoted to Iraq, including, for example the exaggerated reports about opposition to the visit of President Bush to London.

The Metropolitan Police estimated the number of protestors as 30,000 – about the number you would expect the Euro rent-a crowd to be able to cobble together in the middle of the week when others are working. The 30,000 were of course never known to stir against Saddam Hussein, or the Jihad that al-Qa'ida has launched against Arab Christians, an already persecuted group, as well as British interests in the Middle East. Not so much because of the US alliance, but as Professor Walid Phares writes, because of what British culture and commitment to freedom mean. ( November 21, 2003)


Newsweek was one of the few media outlets to pick up The Weekly Standard's story, rashly dismissing it as "hype" and saying the case againstSaddam was far from closed.

This allowed The Weekly Standard to demonstrate that either the Newsweek journalists had not seen the memo, or worse, that they had misreported its contents. (Weekly Standard 21 November)

In the event that The Weekly Standard is shown to be wrong, this will in no way affect the legality — or otherwise – of the Coalition intervention in Iraq. Remember the ground relied on by the coalition was that Saddam was in long and obstinate breach of the terms of the truce which ended the first Gulf War.

The terms of this, and the various attempts to enforce it are contained in a long series of enforceable  Security Council resolutions. The legal ground relied on for intervention. It could have just as much been humanitarian or self defence resulting from the link with al-Qa'ida. The Coalition relied most on the fact that Saddam had consistently and repeatedly breached Security Council resolutions in failing to account for the weapons of mass destruction he clearly possessed. As the intervention became certain, these were no doubt hidden, or moved to other countries.

The only serious challenge to the legality of the intervention is in the argument that yet another Security Council resolution was necessary. (But no Western government thought it was necessary in Bosnia, and it certainly would not be a necessary precondition to the exercise of the right of self-defence)

It is of course clear that The Weekly Standard's revelation does not fit the "facts" that have been propagated by many who opposed the intervention. These are that the war was illegal and unjustified, that there were no WMD's, that there was no link between Saddam and al Qa'ida, and that the Coalition is now trapped in some sort of quagmire.

If so, at least Iraqi authorities no longer rape, mutilate or murder political prisoners – there aren't any. The only murders and mutilations are being carried out by the Saddamites, the same people the elites wish Messrs Bush, Blair and Howard had left in power! Iraq now has a free press and a myriad of political parties. And Washington has recently indicated that state power will be returned to an Iraqi government by the end of June 2003.

The principal Iraqi authority is the Governing Council, chosen by the Coalition Provisional Authority. They must have chosen well. As the Egyptian political scientist, Wahid Abdulmajid says, it is the only ruling establishment in the Arab world that includes representatives of most political trends. (Dar al hayat, 11 November 2003.

But according to Christian Lowe, who spent six weeks on assignment there, Iraqis away from Baghdad, especially in the South and North, are relying more on their local town councils to provide essential services. In the meantime the Governing Council has the task of drafting a new constitution and having it approved.

But there may be another way. The Constitution of 1925, although not ideal, provides the context for a democratic government of sorts. Iraqis never abandoned it. As Najdat Fathi Safwat observed in the Beirut based newspaper, Dar al hayat (17 June 2003), under that constitution Iraq had one of the most honest and efficient public services in the Arab world. It enjoyed a strong and prosperous economy.

No one, not even the Head of State, could spend public funds without lawful authority. The Iraqis enjoyed freedom of speech and a press that had considerable freedom. While it declares Islam the official religion, it provides for freedom of worship, including religious courts to deal with religious and family matters. It is not unreasonable to argue that it is still Iraq's constitution.

There was no legal or moral justification for the bloodthirsty coup staged deceitfully by an army commander in 1958. He murdered not only the ruler but as many of his family, men, women and children, whom he could lure into a truce. Then he had their dismembered bodies dragged through the streets.

A dictatorship was imposed, the regime only changing when the despots fell out among themselves and murdered one another. The people had no choice in any of this, and the constitution was never properly changed or revoked. It provides all of the institutions and guarantees needed for Iraq to function again as a democratic state. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, it would be easier to revive it. Any necessary changes, particularly that to change the country into a federation could be effected later – the constitution requires an election after any proposed amendments are passed by parliament, after which the parliament must pass them again. Not as good as a Swiss or Australian referendum, but better than those constitutions that do not require the people's approval for change – which is most of them.

The constitution provides for an elected lower house, so all that is needed is to have an election. Because the setting up of rolls could be difficult, the first, and only the first election, could be indirect through the local councils or other local authorities until proper rolls and the electoral machinery were put in place.

The Senate, being nominated as in Canada, could be used to ensure a federal balance between the three likely provinces. There is even provision for an interim constitutional Head of State – the Constitution envisages a regency. The regent would, for reasons of history and legitimacy, have to be from the Hashemites.

They are the ancient family which until relatively recently provided the Guardians of the two Shrines, Mecca and Medina, until Ibn Saud drove them out and declared himself King. One branch still reins in Jordan, which along with Morocco is one of the Arab world's more successful and liberal states.

The most likely interim Head of State, both in terms of lineage and temperament, seems to be the highly regarded Ali Bin al-Husayn, a successful London banker. Then a small child, he was smuggled out to Egypt at the time of the massacre. He himself argues that his legitimacy as anything more than an interim Head could only come in a referendum. There is no time to be lost in restoring the Iraqi state.

As the pieces are already there, why waste so many long and difficult months in unprofitable debate, when a viable Constitution already exists?


An edited version of the following article written by David Flint appeared in The Australian Financial Review on 2 December 2003.

Professor David Flint is Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Authority, Convenor of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy and Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Technology Sydney. He is author of The Twilight of the Elites, (Freedom Publishing).


Disclaimer: The opinions in On Line Opinion are those of the contributors and are not necessarily shared by the editor. Allmaterials, except those from other sites © On Line Opinion 2000-03 ISSN 1442-8458


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