Sub-Governorate Separatism in Iraq

New Examples from Dujayl and Balad.

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News

Those who are following the evolving debate about federalism in Sunni-majority parts of Iraq will have taken note of the rapidly deteriorating legal standard of the arguments presented. The assertion earlier this week by Khalid al-Attiya, an ally of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, that the constitution does not call for the “immediate establishment” of federal regions may represent a low mark in the debate so far. It is true, as Atiyya claims, that the constitution does not say that federalism regions need to be established “immediately”

The thing is, Mr. Atiyya, they can be established “anytime”!

Also, the second part of the State of Law argument, that the constitution supposedly warns against establishing regions as a result of racist or sectarian impulses, is an outright lie.

A particularly interesting genre of federalism-related constitutional perversion relates to the newly revived idea of sub-governorate separatism, with or without reference to federalism discussions. In fact, the new Iraqi constitution of 2005 fails entirely to address the question of changes to the administrative boundaries of existing governorates. In terms of territorial changes, it deals only with the possible agglutination of multiple (whole) governorates into new regions through a process of federalisation. The relevant law on the books is a Saddam-era regulation that vests the power to make administrative changes in the central government – which of course is at variance more generally with the radical, bottom-up spirit of the new asymmetrical system of regions and governorates that was introduced with the new Iraqi constitution in 2005.

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