Would ‘federalism’ have spared us the war in Anbar?

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By Fatih Abdulsalam

Azzaman, February 16, 2014

There are shortcomings in the new Iraqi constitution. There are articles that need to be revised and developed.

But the problem with the current constitution is that its application is based on political whims and the selection of what suits the ruling and powerful factions and ignoring of all that may work for their disadvantage.

This is the plight which Iraq is suffering from and which is the cause of the so many problems Iraq is facing.

Iraq has been passing through one crisis after another. There is almost total collapse in law and order in several places. There are battles among the various factions of the society as it is happening right now in the restive Province of Anbar.

The fear is that the current battles in Anbar could migrate into fighting in other areas such as Mosul, Samarra, Takreet as well as other places.

There is an article in the constitution which explicitly advocates the establishment of a federal system in Iraq. This article is as clear as other paragraphs that force a political system based on Iraq being a republic and not a monarchy.

But the article that calls for turning Iraq into a federal state has been undermined and misused to the extent that anyone calling for its application is today branded a traitor and foreign lackey

Those who are now lashing out at federalism were the same forces who strongly supported it when writing the constitution. This particular article has been used to set up the federal region in Kurdish north which enjoys full autonomy today.

But once the Kurds got what they were after, we saw serious attempts to undermine the concept of a federal system which the constitution calls for.

We have witnessed political maneuvers and dubious action in relation to the implementation of the article concerning federalism.

The central government has no right to shelve the implementation of the federal system because it feels it has the military might or the power to squash any attempt demanding it. The constitution belongs to the people and undermining any of its paragraphs means denying the Iraqi people their rights.

Federalism is there in the constitution and it certainly is the cure for the ills Iraq suffers from. If applied, federal regions would have had the capacity and the means to defend themselves against terror or attacks from abroad.

If the Province of Anbar was turned into a federal region its people and administration would have felt it was there duty to defend their province and in so doing would have reduced the burden on the central government.

Iraq will shed rivers of more blood if it fails to apply the type federalism the constitution calls for.