Thursday, November 23, 2023

Review Iraq, Guide To Law And Policy

Mallat, Chibli, Iraq, Guide To Law And Policy, Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, The Netherlands: Wolters Kluwer, 2009


 

Iraq, Guide To Law And Policy by Chibli Mallat is not your usual release. It follows the format of an American law book. It has primary sources like the Iraqi constitution and the Transitional Administrative law, short articles and U.S. government and international reports covering topics from Iraqi law to its economy to the security situation under the U.S. occupation. Those are followed by notes and questions by the author and other legal scholars. It’s probably best used as a reference source to give background to research into Iraq.

 

Chibli Mallat is a Middle East Law professor who spent years studying Iraq and being involved in opposition politics during Saddam. Those factors shaped his book as he wanted to provide Iraqi and international documents and additional readings on Iraq with his notes and thoughts on them. Thus he provides the text of the Iraqi constitution with his questions and comments inserted throughout it along with two other international law experts. They brought up issues such as there being no delineation of powers between Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court and the Judicial Council, that it provided weak support for basic freedoms, that they questioned using the Kurdistan Regional Government as the basis for regional autonomy for the entire country because it would cause too many conflicts over authority with Baghdad. They also felt that amending the constitution was nearly impossible requiring not only a 2/3 vote in parliament but a majority in a referendum across the nation. This was important because the Sunnis who were largely excluded from writing the constitution were told that they could change the document after it was passed. That proved untrue.

 

The book covers a number of other issues from Iraq’s courts to the role of the United Nations to the economy to security. Again, primary documents are included along with short articles and reports by the U.S., World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and others. Interesting tidbits can be found throughout such as the fact that Iraq used to export natural gas to Kuwait before it invaded the country and then the infrastructure fell into disrepair in the 1990s under sanctions to the point the gas industry needed to be largely rebuilt after 2003. There’s a captured letter from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to Al Qaeda which outlines his hatred for the Shiites and his plans to start a sectarian war in Iraq to rally the Sunni and Muslim communities behind him.

 

The reliance upon primary sources is also Iraq, Guide To Law And Policy’s greatest weakness. Many of the reports included such as on Iraq’s economy are from 2008 and dated. That’s the reason why the book is best used as a reference book because it gives a lot of background to Iraq but is not up to date.

 

Given the book’s content it is only really good for college students and analysts doing research into Iraq. An average reader for instance would not be interested in reading United Nations’ resolutions on the U.S. occupation, the entire text of the Transitional Administrative Law or a discussion of Iraqi tort and land laws followed by some of the main legislation on those topics. A researcher however could get a lot out of it.

 

Link to all of Musings On Iraq’s book reviews listed by topic

 

 


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