• Denis Dragovic
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Compromise after Conflict book series (PSCAC)


Shortly after arriving in Iraq in May 2003, Paul Bremer, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, began preparations for the drafting of an Iraqi constitution. The initial plan was for Iraqi and US leaders to select the writers of the constitution, for a constitution to be drafted and sovereignty handed over. But in June of 2003 a cleric residing far from the centres of authority in Baghdad and Washington gave a religious opinion on the matter. The fatwa stated that any drafting would have to be undertaken by Iraqi representatives efollowing a general election.1 Initially this view was ‘underestimated by the Bush administration’, then it became apparent that the ‘Americans were in denial’, said one Iraqi member of the Governing Council.2 For months Bremer refused to recognize the influence of the religious leader. Ayatollah Sistani, on post-conflict statebuilding efforts. Instead, the Americans thought they could work around the fatwa, recruit other religious figures to counter Sistani, appeal to reason and explain the difficulties of organizing an election in such a short period of time, and eventually even offer a comprise by suggesting partial elections. This was not enough. ‘It was very difficult, if not impossible, to disregard the fatwa of Ayatollah Sistani,’ explained Yass Khudier, an Iraqi member of the commission tasked by the Governing Council to find a solution.3


Religious Institution Bush Administration Governing Council Religious Opinion Islamic Jurisprudence 
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© Denis Dragovic 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denis Dragovic
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MelbourneAustralia

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