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Partition v. Decentralization

The U.S. Senate has passed a nonbinding resolution sponsored by Joe Biden calling on Iraq to be partitioned among Sunni, Shia, and Kurds. This idea has many problems, which I enumerated in my COMMENTARY article How Not to Get out of Iraq. Among the most salient of these is that most Iraqis still do not want such a division. As this New York Times article reports:

At a joint news conference on Sunday, six diverse political parties that are discussing the removal of the current government objected to a divided Iraq.

“We think this would complicate the security problem and Iraq would undertake a long-term war and a civil war more than we have witnessed already,” said Basim Shareef, a member of the Fadhila Party, told reporters.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Iraq should be a tightly centralized state with every facet controlled from Baghdad, as was the case under the Baathist regime. Pretty much everyone agrees on the need for a large degree of federalism. This isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s actually happening, as noted in another New York Times article, which finds that Baghdad is sending more money to the provinces and the provincial governments are getting better at using it. The whole article is well worth a read, insofar as it focuses on a positive, and often overlooked, development in Iraq: the slow emergence of a semi-functioning representative government.



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