Sunday, November 23, 2008


"Eighteen months after the US troop surge aimed at creating the security necessary for Iraqis to resolve their political conflicts, those political conflicts are threatening to become even more complicated. Besides the Arab-Kurd and Sunni-Shi'ite divides, there has long been a struggle among rival political parties for supremacy among the Shi'ites. Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently called for amendments to Iraq's constitution to strengthen the central government's power at the expense of the country's 18 provinces. This week, Maliki's rivals in the southern Shi'ite bastion of Basra submitted a petition demanding a referendum in the oil-soaked province aimed to turning it into a semi-autonomous federal region akin to Kurdistan. Federalism is a deeply divisive issue among Iraqis. The Constitution adopted under U.S. occupation stipulates that any of the 18 provinces, except Baghdad, can combine to form regions similar to the northern Kurdish-run zone, which has been semi-autonomous since 1991. While the Kurds insist upon the principle, the Sunnis have traditionally been strongly opposed."
(Yahoo News, 16 November) RD

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