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- Yes to a federal Iraq

Ny Tid brings here one of the week's comments on Al-Jazeera, the Arab world's leading news scandal. Ali al-Awsi is the head of the Senate for Southern Iraq Studies in London. On Saturday, Iraq will vote on a new constitution.


Since the founding of the Iraqi state in 1921, there has been little development in the democratic conditions of the ordinary Iraqi citizen.

A number of problems have remained unresolved under the various regimes, and the main problem has been the discrimination against Iraq's various regions. This underlines the need to come up with a federal solution to a lasting problem that has left Iraqis living under injustice and discrimination.

Both Iraqis and Arabs have lived with values ​​inherited from repressive regimes, which have left a suffocating social system and robbed the people of their will.

The tradition has been based on consolidating a one-man regime, and establishing a climate of fear where one has been unwilling to accept anything other than a centralized regime.

We now have an opportunity to change course and Iraq needs a new culture that can prevent the old values ​​from continuing to dominate.

The autocratic rule that began in 1968 – the year the Ba'ath party took power in Iraq – was based on a monopoly of power so strong that even the various communities could not make any decisions without the permission of the absolute leader and his party in Baghdad. .

Saddam's tanks

This bureaucracy hindered development in many areas. Saddam Hussein's regime introduced terrible discrimination by dividing Iraq into "black" and "white" administrative units. It divided the citizens into two groups: those who could be oppressed and buried in mass graves, and those who enjoyed power and influence.

Only the name of a person was enough to prevent him from getting a decent job if it signaled that the person belonged to a particular sect, or was not an Arab. This practice jeopardized the social structure of Iraq.

Iraqis will not forget Saddam's tanks that drove into Nasiriya in southern Iraq to kill Iraqis with the caption "No Shia from now on."

The Arab regimes, and even Arab pan-nationalists, regard the crimes perpetrated daily in Iraq with joy. This has reinforced Iraqi fears and increased their concerns for the future.

Iraqis face a problem represented by those who interfere in their affairs under the guise of goodwill, but who are only looking for the influence and dominance of Iraq's wealth.

It is sad that there are still Arabs who believe they can use the old formula and continue to milk Iraq. Among these, there are individuals who shot during the dark period, and there are Iraqis and non-Iraqis alike.

Their brutal crimes in Iraq after the fall of the dictatorship prove that they laid crude and brutal plans against Iraq after stealing Iraq's money and weapons at an estimated value of $ 100 billion.

These circumstances motivate Iraqis to establish a system that guarantees the future of future generations.

Fear of federalism

We can divide the fear of federalism into two types: wanton false fear and naive fear.

The first hides certain agendas, ideologies and interests. It uses pompous slogans, but those who promote this fear are in contact with their supposed enemies and face them in discussions. Finally, they will accept the Constitution as it is.

The second type of fear strikes those who are naive and misled and who have fallen into the trap of those who spread the false fear.

And then there are those who have been misled by the theory that security for Iraq lies in a strong leader and a centralized regime.

Iraq was once a federal state under Islamic rule. It was divided into three provinces: Basra, Kufa and Sharazor – later known as Mosul.

The following sections of the Constitution show that its authors have tried to acknowledge and resolve all issues raised by various groups:

  • No law contradicting this constitution shall be enacted. Any part of the regional constitutions or other types of legislation contradicting this constitution is to be considered invalid.
  • The Constitution recognizes the new provinces established by virtue of it.

Other paragraphs support this impression, so if we ignore the political game and exaggerations in the media, we can argue that federalism is a real opportunity to achieve a just distribution of power and wealth.

The United States as a model

Federalism can be used in Iraq. The need to get rid of dark memories makes it the right choice for Iraqis. Federalism exists in several countries around the world, including Germany, Switzerland and the United States. All of these countries introduced federalism, taking into account the views of the inhabitants.

The federal government retains the most important functions in defense, domestic and foreign policy. There are also elected federal councils that are considered one of the guarantees the Constitution provides.

When it comes to the right to self-determination, giving each province the right to declare independence would be devastating. We want all provinces to continue to exist under a federal umbrella. This is an achievable goal.

Federalism provides a guarantee against the return of an authoritarian regime and repression from a centralized government. This can be achieved by establishing a stable, democratic government.

Federalism must not be a victim of the fear that it will somehow divide the country. The fear would be legitimate if there was a will to divide without it being countered by a democratic system that believes in multi-party systems and a peaceful rotation of power.

Central government splits

Can we turn it around and say that a centralized regime is what will eventually split Iraq?

The requirement for a federal system in southern Iraq is not sectarian. We believe in the opportunity to achieve justice, both in the distribution of wealth and in all other areas of life.

The Constitution must take into account that federalism is the current system in Iraq. We are against the view that only the Kurds should get a federal province just because they are a special case.

Federalism must be secured for all of Iraq. Although not fully implemented now, for the sake of Iraq's future, it must be clearly stated in the Constitution that Iraq should be a federal state.

Translated by Tore Høgåsen

Copyright: Al-Jazeera.

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