Friday, August 19, 2005
Possible Civil War in Iraq over Federalism Issue
This from Reuters:
By Michael Georgy and Luke Baker
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's national security adviser said on Friday Iraq would descend into civil war if federalism was not entrenched in the constitution.
GOI: Wikipedia defines federalism: Federalism is a system of government in which power is constitutionally divided between a central authority and constituent political units (like states or provinces). The two levels of government are interdependent, and share sovereignty.
Federalism is the "800 pound gorilla" in the room which remains the biggest problem for an Iraqi constitution.
National security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie defended federalism this way:
Without federalism it means that no community interest has been addressed or fulfilled and therefore different communities will try to find and defend and fight for their rights," Mowaffaq al-Rubaie told Reuters in an interview.
GOI: However, not everyone sees federalism as a good thing. Several thousands of supporters of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr denouce federalism saying it will rip Iraq apart rather then keep the peace. The is some truth in this position because federalism could further alienate the different parties in Iraq leading to a civil war. If, however, you have a strong central government you would have an easier time keeping the state together.
The powerful Kurds, however, demand autonomy that federalism would bring and now some within the Shi'ite population are calling for their own autonomous region in the south.
Kurds want to expand autonomy in their de facto state in the north, some Shi'ites are pushing for their own region in the south, and Sunni Arabs are fiercely opposed to federalism.
This federalist approach, however, is in direct disagreement with al-Sadr's Shi'ites which poses another problem; a split amongst the majority Shi'ites.
This places al-Sadr's supporters together with Sunni Arabs who vehemantly oppose federalism.
"Moqtada al-Sadr's concern is that Iraq must be united, not divided," said Fatah al-Sheikh, a Shi'ite member of parliament who is closely allied to Sadr and led one of the marches.
Sunnis, once dominant under Saddam Hussein, want a central government with tight control over oil resources near Kurdish areas in the north and in the Shi'ite south.
Without federalism, however, you also have a very real threat of revolt by the Kurds and large portions of the Shi'ite population.
So, are you confused yet? It is certainly a complicated issue and a compromise seems nearly impossible at this point. Someone is going to feel slighted and left out of the constitution which could also fuel a civil war and/or at the very least expand the rebel movement. It seems right now that the country is on a collision course toward major sectarian violence.
Right now sectarian violence is confined mostly amongst some radical Sunni and foreign fighters. However, if the constitution fails and the country slips into a greater civil war we could very well see everyone against everyone and that would be the worst possible outcome for all involved.
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