Anbar Creates New Districts - But for Better or Worse?

“Contrary to some opinions, the new districts are not going to cause any kind of disunity or hasten the break-up of Iraq,” says Yahya al-Muhammadi, a member of the Anbar provincial council. “It will do the opposite. The local and central governments will be able to communicate better with the districts and villages, many of which are in need of better services and solutions.”

“If there are partisan aims at work, behind the re-zoning, then it will only be the locals who can decide [whether it was worth it],” al-Muhammadi continued. “In the near future, locals will feel the positive results of this decision,” he argued.

“If Anbar is getting new districts then it will also need new council members,” adds Samir al-Jumaili, a local economist. There are supposed to be seven for each sub-district and ten for each district, he notes. “There would also be new jobs created in security, state services and in health. But if we applied this equation right across the country, we’d need to spend lots of money – money that we do not have and that we should not spend.”

“There are some actors who are insisting on plans that have not been well researched and that are going to deplete this country’s remaining resources,” al-Jumaili argues.

Anbar MP, Mohammed al-Karbouli, who represents the province in Parliament in Baghdad, believes the re-zoning is a good idea. “The creation of new departments will mean officials have better, more direct contact with locals and citizens will be better served,” he suggests.

In fact, al-Karbouli says he has seen first-hand the benefits that can come from being designated a district. After the Karabilah area in the district of Al Qaem became a district four years ago, there were more job opportunities and the area was better represented in local government, he explains.

However if the re-zoning is done simply at the behest of local politicians or tribal leaders who only wish to consolidate power, then it could be problematic. It can complicate the provision of services and security unnecessarily and can exploit sectarian or ethnic differences, al-Karbouli concludes.

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