From the The Age, with thanks to Lee.
KURDISH politicians negotiating a draft constitution have criticised the US ambassador to Iraq for allegedly pushing them to accept too great a role for Islamic law in the US drive to complete the charter on time.
Although a Sunni delegate made similar charges, US officials declined to comment publicly while they worked with politicians as today’s deadline loomed.
US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad spent Saturday shuttling between Iraqi political leaders, members of Iraq’s constitutional committee said.
Delegates said distribution of oil revenue dominated the talks but no agreement was reached. Shiite Arab, Kurdish and Sunni Muslim factions differ on how much revenue should be controlled by a federal Iraqi government and how it should be divided. But the question of Islamic law drew strong public protests from Kurds.
The current working draft of the constitution stipulates that no law can contradict Islamic principles. In talks with Shiite religious parties, Kurdish negotiators said they had pressed unsuccessfully to limit the definition of Islamic law to agreed-upon religious principles.
The Kurds said current language in the constitutional draft would subject Iraqis to extreme interpretations.
Kurds also contend provisions in the draft would allow Islamic clerics to serve on the high court that would interpret the constitution. That would potentially subject marriage, divorce, inheritance and other civil matters to religious law, and could harm women’s rights in particular, Kurdish negotiators and some women’s groups said.
Mr Khalilzad had specifically supported those provisions, urging other groups to accept them, according to Kurds involved in the talks.
“Really, we are disappointed with that. It seems like the Americans want to have a constitution at any cost,” said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the constitutional committee.
“These things are not good “” giving the constitution an Islamic face. It is not good to have a constitution that would limit the liberties of people, the human rights, the freedoms,” Mr Othman said.
Other delegates to the constitutional talks also complained about pressure from Mr Khalilzad. Salih Mutlak, a Sunni delegate who has been outspoken against some compromise proposals, said: “His main interest is to push the constitution on time. No matter what the constitution has in it…