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March 15, 2004

Why US Occupation Continues after June

Bush wants to claim that with the new Constitution passed, power will be turned over to Iraqis after June of this year.

It's a lie.

The new government under the new constitution will be barred from overturning any laws that the US has imposed on the country since the Occupation.

Why can't they change them?

Because of this provision in the Constitution, Article 26:

A) Except as otherwise provided in this Law, the laws in force in Iraq on 30 June 2004 shall remain in effect unless and until rescinded or amended by the Iraqi Transitional Government in accordance with this Law.
Note that the "Iraqi Transitional Government" doesn't come into existence until new elections occur, which can be as late as December 2005-- a long period to be governed by Paul Bremer's recently enacted pro-corporate laws.

I saw author Naomi Klein lecturing over the weekend and she had an intriguing argument why this provision could make the post-constitution Occupation even worse for Iraqis than when the US directly controlled the country.

As she argued last fall, the Bush Administration goals of privatizing the country face a stumbling block right now-- it's illegal as long as the US directly controls the country.

The US was giving sanction by the UN for Occupation, with the US's own vote, only conditional on its agreement to "comply fully with their obligations under international law including in particular the Geneva conventions of 1949 and the Hague regulations of 1907." So what do the Hague regulations say:

The Hague regulations state that an occupying power must respect "unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country". The coalition provisional authority has shredded that simple rule with gleeful defiance. Iraq's constitution outlaws the privatisation of key state assets, and it bars foreigners from owning Iraqi firms.
The point of those regulations is to stop the looting of countries by occupying powers-- obviously a good idea when dealing with a government in bed with Halliburton.

But as Klein argues, a "sovereign" Iraqi government could proceed legally with privatizing the country. So having passed privatization and rightwing laws to encourage the financial stripping of the country BEFORE turning over the country, Article 26 requires the new "sovereign" Iraqi government to IMPLEMENT those laws, thereby giving them retroactive legal sanction.

Don't believe the hype-- with Article 26, the Occupation continues after June. A government that cannot change US-imposed laws is nothing more than a remote controlled puppet regime.

Posted by Nathan at March 15, 2004 07:59 AM