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A federalist Iraq?

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On Arthur Chrenkoff’s website, Mr.Chrenkoff linked to a piece dealing with federalism in Iraq. The piece, coming from the Institute for War and Peace, stated “Proponents of the federalist system say Baghdad could control matters of national defense and foreign policy, leaving all other issues up to the governorates. They cite the relative prosperity and stability of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region as proof that federalism can work in Iraq. The Kurds have ruled themselves since their region fell out of former president Saddam Hussein’s control after the 1991 Gulf War. Supporters of federalism say provincial leaders will be more responsive to their local constituents and be better stewards of their tax money.”

In my books, Economics 101 and Other Thoughts (released 2002), I wrote the following: ” Other experts visualize an “an autonomous Kurdish state within a federated Iraq”, leaving open the question, could a federation Iraq work? The Old Ottoman Empire gave minorities’ substantial autonomy and this helped preserve the Empire for over 400 years. After the fall of the Empire, many minorities became victims of the various new nation-states that rose in the place of the Turkish Empire. The Kurds have been fighting the Iraqis as well as their neighbors. The interesting aspect is that under American protection the Kurds are slowly developing a nation within a nation, and Post –Saddam Iraq would have to give the Kurds significant autonomy.”

“Post Saddam Iraq need to develop a decentralized government giving—Kurds, Shiites—a significant voices both politically and economically. Too often in the Third World, centralized governments deny basic freedoms of expression and security of property even to their ethnic and religious majorities. An Iraq reconstituted as a federated republic with considerable autonomy for the provinces, a demilitarized central government and an even handed and consistent civil law, could provide something new for its devastated peoples: peace and prosperity.”

It would appear that many Iraq are viewing similar solutions. The biggest objection to this vision is that Iraq may be closer to Lebanon as oppose to Switzerland or the United States so just a vision may be not workable. My own view, for the past decade, is that some form of federalism will be required for Iraq if Iraq is to hold together.

The most recent election showed that while the Shiites are the dominant political power, the Kurds and many secular forces hold the balance of power. The Kurds have already shown their ability for self-government since under the Allies protection, they have developed the most prosperous portion of Iraq. The Kurds are not about to join a Iraq to see their progress erased and the Shiites know that some compromise must be reach to keep the Kurdish portion of Iraq in the union Meanwhile the Shiites must find a way to reach out to the Sunni’s minority to reduce the violence. A federalist approach allows for some form of self-governing and possible co-existence between the various groups.

For the past year and half, Iraqis have slowly been building a civil society amidst the violence by the terrorist thugs. The common Iraqis are now taking their fate in their hands and the first steps have been impressive. If nothing else, many Iraqi’s are showing that Islamic faith and democracy can co-exist.

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About Tom Donelson

  • RJ

    Thanks to massive Kurdish turnout, they now are a serious political force to be reckoned with.

    I’m certain the Shia realize this.

    Once the Sunnis become more involved, Iraq will be a shining example of freedom and democracy in the Arab-Muslim world…

  • Need ASIN for “your own” book? 0595652913 (Economics 101 and Other Thoughts) or maybe B0002284DG (Empire of Liberty eBook).

  • I’d like to say something chiding to RJ, but I’ll resist as I tend to agree with the assessment about 50%. The Sunni’s are being punished, that’s apparent. I don’t think their cooperation is was or will be high on many peoples agenda. Democracy will be mostly a mirage in Iraq except in the North where it is more or less already practiced. Now on to a Kurdish state. Turkey seems an obstacle. There needs to begin a dialogue between Turkey and The future Kurdish state- an agreement of sorts. We need these neighbors to be agreeable and cooperative. There is much to gain in this alliance. Turkey could alleviate many of it’s troubles internally. The Kurdish state could receive legitimization on the world stage by helping Turkey to calm tensions internally. An alliance between these peoples would prove EXTREMELY benetfitial to both.