A Federal Iraq

There was a vote in the Iraqi Parliament this Wednesday that has, as its consequence, a fully federalized Iraq, with regional control of militias and resources.

If you remember, the Sunnis only voted to ratify the constitution because of a last minute deal by our Ambassador to forestall the formation of these regional states. Needless to say, the Sunnis aren't taking it well:
Sunni politicians accused Shiite lawmakers Thursday of using dirty tricks to push through a new law on federalism, a landmark measure that will transform Iraq by allowing Shiites to form a self-rule mini-state in the south.

The dispute reflects the deep controversy over federalism, which top leaders of
Iraq's majority Shiites support but which Sunnis deeply oppose, fearing it will tear the country to pieces and further fuel sectarian violence.

The passage of the bill has deepened feelings among some Sunni Arabs that their voices are being ignored in the political process, where Shiite parties dominate the government and parliament.
In fact, the Sunnis were so opposed that they boycotted the vote, attempting to bar action by lack of a quorum.
The boycott delayed the vote for several hours as supporters tried to convince the boycotters to attend and scrambled to make quorum — 138 of the 275 lawmakers. The session was closed to the public, and after repeated counts it was announced that 140 lawmakers were in attendance. The measure was passed unanimously by a show of hands, with no count of the vote.

One of the main Sunni parties, however, accused the Shiites of fudging the numbers, saying quorum had not been reached.

"The session was confused and turbulent. They claimed they met the quorum but they did not. There were no more than 126 lawmakers," said Mohammed al-Daimi, spokesman for the National Dialogue Council.

"We will raise an appeal against the process and seek an investigation into the vote," al-Daimi said.
A voice vote? With no recorded count? On such an important issue? Who do these people think they are, Republicans? They've got a hundred years or so of comity to put in before they can get away with slimyness like that.
But critics fear that any steps toward federalism now could wreck Sunnis' faith in the political process and push them toward violence, if they feel that is the only way to stop what they see as the dismemberment of Iraq.

"This resolution is a catastrophe for Iraq ... (It) will push Iraqis to kill each other instead of reconciling with each other," said the Dialogue Front's leader Saleh al-Mutlaq.<div style="visibility: hidden;">
"There will be disputes over resources, wealth and borders between provinces," he said.
Federalization will give the main constituents, the Sunni and Shiite, something to fight for - a homeland, of sorts. Maybe, after a few months or years of bloody militia-facilitated segregation, this will result in a calmer Iraq, but not without a lot of violence and displacement in the process. Needless to say, this development does not help our strategic goal of decreasing terrorism directed against America.

As similar as this sounds to Joe Biden's Partition Plan, there are key differences. Most importantly, Biden's plan includes enforced sharing between the resource rich Kurdish and Shiite regions and the poor Sunni west. But even in his formulation, if you give the Sunnis an area "all their own," it will almost certainly lead to resource conflicts and increased sectarian violence. They'd have to start suckling at that sweet oil-teat pretty damn quick to have a chance of forestalling or preventing the otherwise inevitable violence.

No comments: