Ten years ago, U.S. diplomats brought together in Dayton representatives from the different religious communities of Yugoslavia. At that time, such representatives were called in to draft a constitution in order to find a solution to the “civil” war being waged in the country.
The enactors of the Dayton Agreements were able to put an end to the war in Bosnia, but failed to implement a plan to administrate the country. This would also justify the fact that Bosnia is still under the protectorate of the international community, which ensures safety in the territory through UN forces and which has appointed an administrative governor with full powers.
In Baghdad today, as happened in Dayton 10 years ago, the same conditions are required to resolve the problem. The three main communities, namely, the Sunni, the Shia and the Kurds have to decide upon their fate together. But, although the agreements among the Serbian communities have brought about a ceasefire in the country, they have not, however, established an independent government.
It is true there is a big difference between the behaviour of the constitutional operation in Baghdad today and that of Dayton 10 years ago. The difference that is quite clear has to do with the international community and its commitment to the two countries in question. Ten years ago, the priority for international leaders was to ensure stability and security in Bosnia before jumping on to the second stage, which was to draft the constitution of the country. Unfortunately, the actors of yesterday can no longer play the same role in Iraq today. And what is even worse, the United States, contrary to what happened in Bosnia, are forcing the implementation of a constitution in Iraq before resolving the issues of order and security. An imposed constitution that is based upon current negotiations could not only divide the country into three rival parts but also trigger a civil war worse than that existing in the country at the moment.
Dayton Agreements were a major step forward for U.S. diplomacy and its representative Richard Holbrooke. For his part, the current Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has faced a more complicated situation with just a few cards to play.

Al Watan (Kuwait)

الدستور العراقي من دايتون إلى بغداد”, by James Dobbins, Al Watan, November 24, 2005.