Why the Call for a Constitutional Monarchy?
The concept of constitutional monarchy is a way out of Iraq’s political crisis, and as a means of ending the tragic ordeal of a people who lived under terror and tyranny.
The Division and Turmoil in Iraq Today
The people of Iraq comprise a multitude of diverse ethnic, religious and social groups. The majority of Iraqis of whatever group have always felt that, apart from the years following the country’s emergence as a political entity, successive Iraqi regimes did not care about them and were unrepresentative of their interests.
Consequently none of these regimes enjoyed popular support, and all had to rely on force to remain in power. The root of Iraq’s political problems is that no regime has ever managed to win sufficient support from important political groups to create a stable political atmosphere. This was particularly true of the former Ba’athist regime who pursued a continual policy of terror and war both externally and internally, as well as bribery and corruption.
Iraq today is a society of fear, suspicion and intolerance. The Sunni Arabs fear a revenge campaign; the Kurds the eradication of their culture and identity; the Shiite Arabs fear that policies of sectarian discrimination will persist; and the other minority groups see all kinds of threats. Within each of these groups there are deep divisions, and since each group is suspicious of the others’ intentions, none of them is willing to cooperate nor to accept the existence of alternative views.
In addition to these divisions along ethnic, religious and sectarian lines, there are political divisions covering the entire spectrum of political opinion: communists, democrats, Islamists, secularists, and nationalists.
Furthermore, there is the traditional rivalry between tribes, and the perpetual conflict between urban and rural areas. Such is the amalgam of elements which makes up the map of Iraq today: a society which has become incapable of cooperating or forgiving, let alone creating harmony and speaking with one voice. This state of affairs is exemplified by the current state of the Iraqi opposition.
In the light of the great calamities that have befallen Iraq, serious consideration must be given to the most appropriate kind of regime for the future.
Since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958, successive groups of varying regional, factional and political allegiances have won power in Baghdad. The common feature of all these regimes was the use of force to stay in power against the general will of the people. Consequently none succeeded in establishing a just system of government which safeguarded the welfare, progress and security of its citizens.
Successive governments over the past 45 years have gone from bad to worse as each discarded regime gave way to another that was more ruthless in its dealings with the people, and more neglectful of their basic rights. As a result, the nation’s economic and human resources were squandered. The people endured all manner of hardships, deprivations and humiliations. Iraq’s reputation abroad, and her relations with her neighbors and the rest of the world, were ruined.
It is essential to acknowledge the harsh reality of the situation in Iraq today, and even after the fall of Saddam, the four decades of tyranny and division that has beset the people. The people had been denied dignity, basic human rights, and even their daily needs. As a result of the reckless policies pursued by Saddam, the condition of Iraq has deteriorated to such an extent that the image most likely to strike any observer of Iraqi affairs is one of chaos, destruction, backwardness, migration, poverty, inflation and loss.
What Type of Government Makes Sense for Iraq?
The history of the region and Iraq has proven that the pluralist democratic republican regime called for by some Iraqi political forces is unfortunately no more than a romantic slogan aimed at achieving temporary gains of no real substance. The majority or republics the Middle East have brought about successively greater states of chaos, and degenerated into individual or single-party dictatorships. They have also hindered the stability of their respective societies while partisan military and state security forces have worked to guarantee the re-election of their “nominated leader, thus ensuring that he remains in power for life.
As for the Islamic alternative, this too touches sensitivities both inside and outside Iraq. There are also serious problems concerning implementation of such an option: many in the region strongly oppose this type of rule and will spare no effort to prevent it from happening, seeing it a s a threat to their interests.
While it is true that ethical competition in the political arena is not only a necessity but one of the most important pillars of democracy, the reality of our society is that competition for the top position has reached a highly dangerous pitch, often subjecting our homeland to the most lethal perils and bloody conflicts. For this, all of the people have had to pay the price.
Why The Constitutional Monarchy Can Unite Iraq's Division
The Constitutional Monarchy Movement CMM believes in the necessity and legitimacy of fair competition among political forces within the contest for executive power. They believe that free parliamentary elections should be conducted in an atmosphere of stability and continuity, and that the Head of State should remain above factional disputes and political maneuvering. As a guarantor of the constitution, he would be entrusted with implementing its precepts and defending the rights of all the people and their representatives in a democratically elected assembly.
The CMM is not a new party to be added to the ranks of the existing parties, nor is it intended to compete with any of them. It is an all-embracing popular movement comprised of members of other parties and independent individuals. While holding differing political affiliations and diverse political opinions, they see the return of constitutional monarchy to Iraq as a key factor for achieving stability, national salvation, and an end to the suffering of Iraqis once and for all. The aim is to make this movement the focal point for all groups, so that constitutional life may return to the country and the people can enjoy a truly representative government. Competition between political parties should be confined to the polling booth in the New Iraq. The constitutional monarchy will act as a fair arbitrator between all parties and inclinations, and will refrain from supporting any one component against another within this political framework.
Despite the harsh experiences endured by Iraq, which reached their peak during the years following the calamitous Kuwait war, Iraqi opposition groups have been unable to emerge with one voice. Instead they have splintered into ever smaller factions, even while advocating the same principles and goals. If the opposition groups fail to achieve harmony amongst themselves and take earnest action to confront Saddam Hussein while he is in power, there is little hope for their cooperation after his departure.
Constitutional Monarchy is not a form of government that can be imposed on the people. It will be put to the Iraqi public in a free and direct referendum and must win their approval as a precondition for adoption. The proposal specifies that the Constitutional Monarchy will act as a symbol, the real authority being the elected representatives of the people. The executive arm of government will thus take its decisions and carry on its activities within the framework of constitutional legitimacy and in accordance with rules and regulations elaborated by the constitution . The monarchical heritage enjoys legitimacy in as much as it was the only constitutional regime ever witnessed by Iraq, and because the governments of that period were the most tolerant and open to alternative views as well as being the least corrupt of all those who have held power in modern Iraq. The regime was not biased towards any particular group because it did not belong to any.
Moreover, the Royal Family though Sunnis, nevertheless enjoy the support of the Shiite majority in Iraq, giving monarchical legitimacy a focal point around which all groups could meet.
Constitutional monarchy is therefore the one thing that could rescue Iraq from the factional conflicts between the various groups over the question of the position of the head of the state, because the Monarch would not favor one group to the detriment of another, but rather would represent all the people.
Monarchy needs not to be affected by the political ideologies of the competing parties because its main role is an arbitrator between all and guarantor of the constitution. The constitutional monarchy would provide a wide umbrella offering reassurance and permitting coexistence between the various factions that make up Iraqi society. At the same time, the monarchy is aware of the importance of bringing all Iraqi groups under one flag, of being universally seen as devoted to the unity of Iraq, committed to protecting minority rights, and upholding the principles of free elections, popular representation, and supremacy of the law and constitutional government.
It is worth emphasizing here that the kind of constitutional monarchy aspired to does not mean automatic continuation of the monarchical era that came to an end on 14 July 1958. Although that era, according to the testimony of friend and foe alike, was superior to those that followed it. Nevertheless, that period was tarnished by certain misgivings that must be dealt with and faced up to courageously and realistically if we are to ensure a constitutional life in the fullest sense. This means having a truly representative government which emanates from the will of the people. A government that is able and qualified to carry out its tasks and provides ever-improving welfare for the people, as well as restoring national dignity and honor both regionally and internationally.
Clearly the return of constitutional monarchy entails the resumption of political and constitutional legitimacy. Constitutional monarchy has the characteristics and virtues that render it the most suitable, realistic and constructive option under the present circumstances.
On the one hand it would guarantee the rule of the people by holding bona fide elections from which legitimate governments could be chosen. On the other, it would reassure all ethnic and religious factions within Iraqi society. It would also allay the fears of certain neighboring countries and superpowers over such possibilities as the partitioning of Iraq, its descent into fanaticism, or the risk of a single group emerging to form another dictatorship. All of the foregoing clearly indicates why constitutional monarchy has been taken so seriously as the viable alternative to the current regime in Iraq.
The Iraqi Royal Family
No royals escaped the massacre of 14 July 1958 at Al-Rihab Palace except for Princess Badia the daughter of King Ali and aunt of King Faisal II, her husband Sharif AlHussein bin Ali and their three children. They spent a month in the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Baghdad, whereupon the coup leaders insisted that they leave Iraq and travel to Egypt on ordinary passports.
From the time of the Royal Family’s departure from Iraq, and all through their subsequent sojourns in Lebanon and Britain, they have always remained a focal point for Iraqis everywhere and the object of their respect. They have also shared in the people’s grievances and problems, notwithstanding the painful bereavement which they themselves have endured.
Many Iraqis of differing political opinions and factional affiliations have approached the Iraqi Royal Family in search of a Hashemite candidate of good reputation and untarnished past. One who has had no dealings with any of the regimes that have ruled Iraq since 14 July 1958, and for whom these regimes cannot claim to have done any favors. These Iraqis have urged the Royal Family to consider the matter with a view to the salvation of Iraq, there being no other political plan which could bring all Iraqis together.
After careful and thorough study, Sharif Ali bin Sharif AlHussein emerged as the most suitable candidate. He is cousin of the late King Faisal II, his father is Sharif AlHussein bin Ali, and his mother is Princess Badia, daughter of King Ali bin Hussein I and aunt of the late King Faisal II. His grandfather was uncle of King Faisal I and Emir of Mecca until 1908.
Sharif Ali accepted the candidacy strictly upon condition that it was a popular and patriotic wish supported by people within Iraq. He felt that the monarchic movement should not be a new party adding to the dozens of parties and groups already in play, but be broad and all-embracing, providing a focal point for agreement, bringing together all inclinations and tendencies and safeguarding each and every one of them.
Sharif Ali bin AlHussein was born in Baghdad in 1956. He had a modern education (Lebanese high school, British MA in economics) and a thorough understanding of Islamic and Arabic cultures. At the same time Sharif Ali has remained aloof from partisan Iraqi politics, never favoring one party over any other. He has always kept an eye on events in his homeland, while maintaining his unswerving opposition to tyrants, usurpers and puppets. He has a very sound knowledge of Iraq’s modern history and its back-ground, and has complete trust in the ability of the people to achieve salvation, recovery and prosperity.
The Ideal Solution
The idea of restoring the monarchy in Iraq has emerged as an effective way to recover the dignity of the Iraqi people, to reinstate the rule of law, to restore all human rights, and to revive the golden era which Iraq enjoyed under her monarchy. Equally it offers a means of bringing Iraq back into the family of civilized nations, of re-establishing peaceful relations with her neighbors and respect for their borders and of ensuring Iraq’s useful contribution to the world order and her compliance with legitimate international resolutions.
The Constitutional Monarchist Movement has gained the support of many groups inside and outside Iraq: Iraqi opposition groups, independent Iraqis, the main parties, religious groups, the military, Arab and Kurdish tribal chiefs, academics, skilled workers and professionals.
The adoption of constitutional monarchy by the Iraqi people will emanate from a true realization of the national responsibility that falls on each and every one of them, including the army and religious factions, and their understanding that the monarchic period was much better than all the regimes that followed it. Almost everyone is now aware that monarchy is not only the best solution, but the sole solution, if only because of the profoundly disappointing failure of any of the competing political groups to offer a feasible alternative, let alone a united front.
Constitutional monarchy is the only comprehensive and balanced system capable of harboring all political factions. It is also the only regime that can fulfill the role of a safety valve politically and constitutionally, preserve national unity, and prevent Iraq from becoming a threat to her neighbors, thus representing a factor of stability in the region.
The call for the constitutional monarchy to be restored in Iraq as the only means of solving the present Iraqi crisis is a matter for the Iraqi people alone. What is suitable for Iraq may not be suitable for other nations, since each nation is without doubt possessed of its own characteristics and options. In the future, Iraq would cooperate with all friendly regimes in the region, respect fraternal relations with its neighbors, and refrain from interfering in their internal affairs.
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