Kurdistan of the South? Basra Takes Further Steps Toward Independence Inside Iraq
Those who believe that the resource-rich province of Basra would be better off as a semi-autonomus region say the time is right to make this change. Others say any such project will endanger Iraq just when the country needs unity most.
The next few months will be crucial for one of Iraq's most resource-rich provinces. For some time now there have been calls to make the southern province of Basra a region – that is, it would become more independent from the federal government in Baghdad in a similar way to Iraqi Kurdistan.
“We have noticed that this idea is more widely accepted by social and tribal leaders who were against the plan in the past,” says politician, judge and legal expert, Wael Abdul-Latif, a former governor of Basra who's been campaigning for more independence for the province since 2008. “We have started to collect the votes of those who support the creation of a region of Basra. After this we will submit a request to the Independent High Electoral Commission.”
Now volunteers say they've already collected enough signatures to put forward a request to make Basra a region – and they say that they'll submit the proposal in mid-April.
To establish a region Article 119 of the Iraqi Constitution says certain steps must be taken – this involves either a tenth of all eligible voters in the province supporting the idea or one third of the provincial council members submitting the request. After this Iraq's Parliament decides whether to go ahead with turning a province into a more independent region with a vote.
And Basra has long been a candidate for this. In fact, the first request for regionalisation was submitted in 1921. “The rationale behind the petition was based on the economic and social characteristics of Basra, such as its having a seaport and economic vibrancy,” website Al Monitor reports.