Friday, April 16, 2004

An Al Hayat Editorial on Iraq

WW NOTE: Here's an editorial from the English Dar al hayat that we've got to hope some of our "transistion" leaders in read

Iraq: Five Geographic Federal States

editorial Al-Hayat 2004/04/7

Before we display the political program, which we consider to be vital we should exhibit the actual facts in the current Iraqi situation, which could be summarized as follows:

The rise of sectarian and national strife:

The Iraqi society today is witnessing a rise in sectarian strife, and this phenomenon is quite dangerous and notable. Many politicians and even non-politicians are denying this sectarian conflict. The sentiments of national partition between the Arabs and Kurds are growing in an unprecedented negative manner. The proposed solutions to counter this phenomenon are still naïve, unorthodox and unrealistic based on denying the facts on the ground. The optimum solution to counter this substantial problem is by establishing five federal states in Iraq based on what we will be discussing about this program.

The military institution collapsed from the first days of the war, even before there was any decision to dismantle it. The Kurds do not accept to return to the previous political situation. The Kurds, who have long suffered from the previous governments of the former Iraqi regime, insist on establishing federalism in Iraq, which would guarantee their rights as Kurdish citizens or even as Iraqi citizens participating equally in the reconstruction of their country. The Sunnis refuse the current situation. The current Iraqi conviction among the general public in Iraq whether among the Shiites, Kurds or any other national group or even among the Sunnis themselves that the governance in Iraq during the past was under the direction and hegemony of the Sunnis. Today, the general conviction among the Sunnis is that their power was confiscated after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, and their current role is marginalized in the new political situation. The Sunnis now believe that the Shiites and Kurds now control power in Iraq, and accordingly the Sunnis are not ready to accept this current situation.

The Shiites refuse to return to the previous situation. The Shiites in Iraq are the majority of the population. They were persecuted and repressed by the former Iraqi regime. Their territories were deprived of developmental projects whether economic or cultural.

The solutions to these dangerous problems will not be achieved unless a federal democracy that would not permit any hegemony or sectarian dominance is established. The minorities in Iraq also refuse to return to the centralist rule of the previous regime. The major sects and minorities in Iraq are attached to the democratic paradigm and the notion of freedom. They all refuse to return to the previous situation of the past and they all refuse to be marginalized in the new formula of the new Iraq. The non-sectarian parties and political forces nationalist or leftist lost their image and their ability to influence any event. Despite the fall of the former regime, which had depended on enforcing totalitarianism, this perception still exists in the minds and conduct of many politicians and party leaders in Iraq. They will not refrain from establishing a regime that will implement despotic ideas at any opportunity given, and they will find the old centralist rule the best mean to reinstate dictatorship.

Many Iraqis are disappointed with the false promises and programs that were presented by the majority of the parties and political forces in Iraq, whether they were leftist, nationalist, socialist and that led to military coups and accelerated the rise of successive totalitarian regimes that destroyed all features of civil constitutional democratic life. Therefore, democratic federalism in Iraq would guarantee the end of dictatorship in Iraq, because a centralist government in the capital means hegemony and control over the entire Iraqi system. Democratic federalism would help the Iraqis retain a cultural and intellectual balance. After the fall of Saddam's regime many Iraqis had hope in the possibility of engaging in production, trade and various economic activities. The capacity of the Iraqi economy and the geographic distribution of resources would encourage the decision of establishing democratic federalism, as federalism depends of independent federal states based on a central administrative government.

Federalism in Iraq should be implemented on all regions and the republic and it should not be restricted in one area. Five federal states should be established and the name of the country would be Unionist Republic of Iraq.

State of Kurdistan: this state would the following territories: Arbil, Sulaimaniyah, Dahook, Kirkuk and Kirkuk would be a special case.

The central state that would include the territories of Mosul, Anbar, Salah Al Dean, and Dyala.

The state of Baghdad that would include Baghdad city and its suburbs.

The state of central Euphrates that would include the following territories: Najaf, Karbala, Babylon, Al Diwaniyah and Qut.

The southern state that would include the following territories. Basra, Al Omara. Al Nassiriyah and Al Samawa.

Due to the current circumstances in Iraq, Baghdad should not be attenuated to any administrative unit or any federal state. Baghdad should remain a separate federal state, especially that its population of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds along with other ethnic and sectarian groups.

Because of the national and sectarian discrimination exercised during the past, some territories in Iraq were developed as opposed to others. Therefore the natural resources and revenues should be distributed equally between all five federal states. Each state should keep the revenues within its geographical jurisdiction. All national revenues should be collected and then distributed equally among the five federal states based on their population. The armed forces and the army should remain under the authority of the federal government. The federal government should sign defensive treaties with federal states to guarantee the independence sovereignty of Iraq. National education remains under the auspices of the federal government. All federal rules and regulations should be implemented in a manner that would serve the interest of the Iraqi people. The benefits of federalism would be summarized as follows:

Federalism would give decentralized authorities, which would accelerate the implementation of programs and it would diminish the suffering of the people due to bureaucratic routine;

It would put an end to military coups;

It would put an end to the conflicts between the Arabs and the Kurds;

Federalism would stop the dangers of sectarian strife between the Sunnis and the Shiites;

Federalism would give a better chance for the evolution of democratic life;

Federalism would implement a fair and realistic mechanism for the distribution of national resources;

Federalism would give the Iraqis a chance of electing their local officials. This would ultimately break the monopoly of militias and political parties;

It would be easier to choose a president for the country regardless of his affiliation; Federalism would enhance regional political and administrative unity in the context of a unified government.

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