Chapter 1: Introduction
The Middle East region has always attracted the keen interest of political science and international relations students. Without discarding the importance of history in the Middle East in totality, it is fair to say that the attention to details and events has greatly increased in the last couple of decades. There are several areas one can focus on such as Arab-Israeli conflict and in another case the infringement of women rights in the region. However, this study will take on a different approach and by this; it will specifically focus on Iraq and its governmental adaption process since the fall of the dictator Saddam Hussein.
1.1 Purpose of Study
The main aim of the study as briefly inscribed above is evaluating the role of federalist form of government in Iraq. It is important to note that even though the study has one focus, alternatively it will touch up upon other relative areas such as Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), possible autonomous regions within Iraq, independence and separation from Iraq by religious and ethnic groups. All of the aforementioned will be analysed throughout the totality of the study to give the reader an understanding of what is unfolding in Iraq.
Furthermore, this study aims to enhance the already existent knowledge on the analysis of the federalist system in Iraq, with the addition of analyzing the specifics of problems/issues and possible resolutions that might be applied in the case of Iraq. Through the analysis it is evident that Iraq with a majority say wants to adopt a federalist form of government, however, in the manner they apply it; or to whom; and on whom they do it is still a diluted image. Thus, the study looks at the possible interpretation of federalism applicable in the case of Iraq. In other words, what kind or form of federalism is being interpreted, constructed and applied, all of which will be referred to upon throughout the study.
1.2 Definition of Terms
Within this section of the study the terms that will be elucidated can be found in the table of contents under key terms. The first two terms in federalism and democracy are going to be greatly referred to upon throughout the latter part of the study, thus for now they will be explained briefly. Federalism and democracy are two terms that are more or less intertwined with one another. Nonetheless, the concept or understanding of federalism can differ from institution to institution, for example federalism can be adopted as “self-rule plus shared rule”. This is a central point: federalism does not simply mean the separation of political authority, distributed in discrete and complete units; it is shared between the central state and its regional political units. (Anderson 2007, p. 160) One of the important indication made by Anderson is the importance of having a prevalent and functioning central government in respect to regional political units which solidifies the balance in a federal government.
An alternate definition that is relatively important to the study is ethno-religious sectarianism, for it is one of the key obstacles that is refraining Iraq from attaining a solid form of federalism. The terminology is a combination of three terms, ethnic and religious characteristics can be given to a person to identify their personal views or values. As for sectarianism is the ability to choose or draw a liking to a certain thing without respecting or observing any other thing in comparison to it. In this case, the adherence to a certain religion or ethnic group in Iraq has been a prevalent part of why federalism has not been fully achieved.
Moreover, the other terms are central government and KRG, which will be elucidated further in the forthcoming section. Both central government of Iraq in Baghdad and the KRG in Erbil have had their similarities and difference since Iraq was proclaimed to be a federalist government with 18 provinces in 2005. Nonetheless, both forms of governments, central in Baghdad and regional in KRG are going to be pivotal actors if Iraq is to achieve complete federalism.
Chapter 2: What is Federalism?
2.1 What kind or whose federalist system is it?
The concept of federalism in its self is vast, in addition, different federations around the world are structured and functioned differently, each specifically monitored to its environment. But before the study engages with the kind of federalism that might seem viable for Iraq, it will first identify some of the fundamental values and bodies of federalism. “Federalism’ is used as a normative term that refers to the ‘advocacy of multi-tiered government combining elements of shared-rule and regional self-rule. It is based on the presumed value and validity of combining unity and diversity, i.e. of accommodating, preserving and promoting distinct identities within a larger political union.” (De Viliers 2012, p. 392) Such claim will be of relative when discussing the role of federalism in Iraq in the upcoming chapters.
Moreover, federalism or it essence is not found in a particular set of institutions, but in the institutionalization of a particular kind of relationship among the participants in political life. Federalism, therefore, refers to a relationship. (De Viliers 2012, p. 392) In other words, federalism does not encourage imbalances, but rather a fair distribution of power and authority amongst all of its institutions. For (Smith 2005, p. 130) federal structures can promote more effective governance, both by increasing the ‘ownership’ of government action by citizens and through healthy experimentation in governance reform, which is much more easily accomplished at sub-national levels.
Alternatively, Anderson provides a unique outlook on federalism by providing three distinct characteristics; (1) two levels of government rule the same land and people, (2) each level has at least one area of action in which it is autonomous, and (3) there is some guarantee . . . of the autonomy of each government in its own sphere. (Anderson 2007, p. 160) It is important to note that in particular to the case of Iraq options one and two are currently indictable but the third option seems to be making its way around in the foreseeable future. Moreover, federalism more or less must provide 1) power sharing, (2) cuts around the issue of sovereignty, and (3) supplements but does not seek to replace or diminish prior organic ties where they exist”. (Anderson 2007, p. 160) In these cases, federalism is adopted in order to acknowledge diversity within existing states and calm separatist pressures while maintaining territorial integrity (i.e. holding the state together). (Anderson 2007, p. 161) In other words, federalism is often used to attain nations that are unique and diversified with different culture and religion, unfortunately as its demonstrated in the case of Iraq, federalism has up to the current moment has seemingly unachieved. The relationship between national and state governments should therefore be characterised by mutual respect, tolerance, striving towards common objectives, sharing, and cooperation to achieve mutually agreed ideals. (De Viliers 2012, p. 393)
On another point, much like most political institutions federalism has short term and long term gains. In the short-term federalism, federalism can establish institutions that will undermine secession, but more importantly, it can deviate away from certain issues like respect, stability and assurance of a health functioning government. (Cameron 2009, p. 310) In the longer term, the formative power of institutions is considerable, and the political identities that are often at the root of secessionist movements can be as much the product of institutional structures and processes as the reverse. (Cameron 2009, p. 310)
2.2 What is Centralization and Decentralization Federalism?
One of main discussion that revolves around the concept of federalism is the debate between centralization of one government over other relatively inferior regional governments. When this centralization occurs, it often leads to abuse of power of one higher government over weaker or less powerful regional government. Alternatively, decentralizing the government power can be dispersed even throughout the nation amongst all the groups and regions. However, as good as that might sound achieving equal or fair amount of power to all institutions is rather difficult and unlikely especially in Iraq due to geopolitical and ethnic-religious divisions. “It is generally agreed that decentralization is a path to more efficient and more effective public organizations because the opposite—intense centralization—has led to such poor results, including a callous disregard for the lives of Iraqis by their own leaders. (Mingus 2012, p. 684)
Decentralization has a number of advantages. First, it helps to overcome aggregation problems by bringing policy decisions more closely into line with citizen preferences. Second, decentralized government helps electorates discipline local officials, thus solving agency problems and ensuring that local public-goods bundles reflect local preferences. Finally, local decision makers are constrained by the ability of individuals and firms to “vote with their feet”—a euphemism for their capacity to move to jurisdictions that offer the most attractive package of taxes and services. (Wibbels 2006, p. 168)
Nonetheless, decentralization of powers based on the principle of subsidiarity, whether called self-determination or devolved power, and whether the arrangements are symmetrical or asymmetrical, would increase the chances of minorities to participate in the exercise of authority over matters affecting themselves and the entire societies in which they live. (De Viliers 2012, p. 398) More distinctly on two level of analysis in micro and macro, decentralization seems to provide far greater opportunities for federalism to succeed in comparison to centralization federalism. At the micro-level, these advantages assume that citizens and firms are fully informed about which levels of government provide various services, that they are highly mobile in response to diverse public-service bundles, and that decentralized politicians are benevolent and understand local preferences better than their national counterparts. (Wibbels 2006, p. 167) By keeping in touch with the locals the government is in tune with its citizens, thus clearly knowing the roles of all communities and addressing them in a respected manner. At the macro-level, it is assumed that there exist democratic institutions of governance and a clear division of authority and policy responsibilities among levels of government. (Wibbels 2006, p. 168)
Lastly, federalism, then, often appeals to countries and to an international order struggling with ethno-cultural conflict, separatist movements and terrorism. It may be that the cradle of federalism in the twenty-first century will be found as much in countries such as Sudan, the Congo, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Iraq as in, let us say, the United Kingdom or Italy. (Cameron 2009, p. 312)In other words, due to the expansion of knowledge and human rights in the modern globalized world, concepts like freedom and equality will not be a limited term in limited regions but rather the right for all human wherever they might live.
2.3 Paradox of Federalism
This section of the study is focused on projecting the paradox of federalism and its role in the case of Iraq. Moreover, this section will instigate the gaps that federalism has and how those gaps are evident in the study of Iraq.Federalism succeeds by offering some autonomy—a negotiated middle ground between an unsatisfactory status quo and outright independence—to the aggrieved group. (Anderson 2007, p. 161) As Anderson stated federalism in certain cases like Iraq often provides greater complexities, than simplifying a situation. In this case, the KRG in northern part of Iraq have neither gained full independence or foresee full autonomy in the near future.
It can be noted that painting federalism as an unmitigated success as a method of ethnic conflict resolution. Moreover, federalism is related to the presence or absence of democracy: where democracy and federalism exist together, thus, secession will not be successful.(Anderson 2007, p. 162) If federalism consists of some many gaps and convolutions why is it being promoted. In other words, “Why federalism? As often as not, and certainly in the case of Iraq, it is because there appears to be no other better alternative.It is not a first choice; it is everybody’s second choice. The Sunnis of Iraq would prefer a unitary state, and the Kurds of northern Iraq, would rather have an independent state.” (Cameron 2009, p. 315) In other words, there is consistent misunderstanding and clash and since the Sunnis and the Kurds are a minority governmental institution in the face of the Shia government their opinions are often avoided.
More or less, federalism is what the parties fall back on. Therefore, the relevant question at this point is not, properly speaking: “Why federalism?” but rather “Is there any other alternative that is better?” If the answer to that question is no, one is left with the task of trying to work something out, despite the forbidding obstacles to its realization. (Cameron 2009, p. 316) Yet even with this uncertainty, certain authors have placed great confidence in federalism. However, these authors do not fail to note that federalism has its own attendant dangers.Donald Horowitz (1985: 602) noted that the “skillful division of authority between regions or states and a centre has the potential to reduce conflict”. Horowitz warned that federalism might be little more than a resting point on the road to secession. (Anderson 2007, p. 162) In the case of Iraq, it is often portrayed that federalism in Iraq is merely a transitional form of government, with the end goal of dividing Iraq along ethnic and religious lines. If such is the case than federalism is merely a “blanket term”, meaning it is a term being used merely to cover a bigger picture in the dissolution of Iraq.
Those who have attempted to resolve the paradox of federalism have noted, first and foremost, that there are differences between political mobilization along ethnic lines and secessionist mobilization. Not all mobilization along ethnic lines is secessionism. (Anderson 2007, p. 163) However, Anderson goes on to diffuse the rumor of federalism and its promotion of secessionism along ethnic lines. Those who have asserted that federalism contributes to secession have mistakenly identified mere ethnic mobilization as secessionism. Thus, there is no paradox of federalism; there is only mistaken identity. Ethnic mobilization may have undesirable consequences, but ethnic mobilization is distinct from secessionism. (Anderson 2007, p. 163)
With such complexities, what kind or type of federalism might be applicable to the case of Iraq? Anderson and Stansfield suggest two ‘‘models’’ of federalism—territorial and plurinational—are ideal types that are nowhere perfectly replicated in the real world. (Anderson & Stansfield 2005, p 396.) Moreover, the hybrid Canadian system, in which a linguistic minority is largely contained within its own sub-unit, while anglophone Canada is cracked into nine separate provinces, illustrates that the two are not mutually exclusive. (Anderson & Stansfield 2005, p 396.)
Lastly, federalism is unlikely to hold an unjust regime together;but, equally, it is unlikely to pull a just regime apart. Justice—rather than a glorified governing instrument—is surely closer to the heart of the matter than federalism. (Cameron 2009, p. 319)
2.4 Misconceptions of Federalism
There are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about the theory of federalism and the practical experiences of federations.
“Those misconceptions often give rise to fears that federalism may be divisive; that federations may be unstable; that ethnic groups may abuse their powers through self-rule; that power-sharing may lead to minority veto; that nation-building may suffer as a result of the territorial division of powers; and that secession may be pursued by regional groupings who do not get their way.” (De Viliers 2012, p. 403)
Similarly, some of the other misconceptions of federalisms are: 1) federations only work when separate states, regions, or colonies come together to form the federation by way of aggregation, and 2) Federations undermine national unity and encourage conflict. (De Viliers 2012, p. 404) Both of the points are irrelevant in the case of Iraq, the federation was created after the war, however, the war was evident in order to get rid of a dictatorship. Nevertheless, most importantly the second misconception is by far the most misunderstood because in the case of Iraq the federation seems to be the sole factor that is keeping the nation from engaging in a civil war along ethnic and religious lines.
Chapter 3: The Dilemmas and Solution of Federalist Governance in Iraq and KRG
3.1 Independence or Autonomy for KRG
This subsection will outline the main issue that KRG faces under the newly formed federalism in Iraq in gaining independence or autonomy from Iraq. The clear stance of the KRG on federalism has often been distorted due to their historical past. When Iraq was constitutionalized as a federation, it was a sign of hope. The Kurds of course had long been the most passionate advocates of a federal structure for Iraq. Under their vigorous and insistent advocacy, their version of federalism, one that assumed an ethno-sectarian rather than a territorial cloak, won the day. (Dawisha 2010, p. 33)
The KRG have long fought for full independence but it seems unlikely that such goal will be achieved; nonetheless, they would also be satisfied in gaining autonomy from the central government in Baghdad. Needless to say, gaining full independence cannot be taken out of the equation but for now their limited autonomy will be their lasting joy.The Kurds are federalisms most zealous supporters in Iraq. Although some,including those who endorse federalism, want independence, most Iraqi Kurds are pragmatic and recognize that independence is not feasible given Turkey’s adamant opposition to it. (Brancati 2004, p. 11) Turkey opposes Kurdish independence, fearing that it may spark a similar movement among Kurds in Turkey. Federalism is thus the Kurds next-best option, as it will give them control over many political and social issues that affect their lives as well as the ability to protect their identities against onslaughts they have experienced in the past. (Brancati 2004, p. 11) overall independence of KRG will ultimately create a major shift in the region economic and political security issues.
Hence, for the time being federalism is the only thing keeping the Kurds safe in northern Iraq. “The Kurds in the north have always supported a federal solution for a reconstructed Iraq—if not outright independence. Given the autonomy enjoyed in the Kurdish region, the lack of trust among the constituent communities, and the strong support for independence expressed by the Kurds in the 2005 election. Federalism was and continues to be a non-negotiable issue.” (Anderson 2007, p 166.)
3.2 The Frail Condition of the Central Government in Baghdad
The central government in Iraq has endured a difficult time in trying to establish a well functioned federalist system in Iraq. However as the saying goes, saying something is good enough is not the same as it being completely good. One of the areas that Baghdad has really suffered to accept is the concept of decentralization and power sharing among regional governments in Iraq.
Power-sharing or consociational democracy in heterogeneous societies is often a preferred alternative system for many scholars and commentators. (Rafaat 2007, p. 268) The Kurds, too, have shown distrust of the power-sharing arrangement. As evidence of this, the Kurds insist that the issue of Kirkuk be resolved by the time the U.S. eventually withdraws. Nichervan Barzani explains that “Our fear is that Baghdad is weak today and ready to make a solution, but tomorrow it might become stronger and refuse to solve it”. (Rafaat 2007, p. 270) The KRG have on various occasion displayed their no confidence in Baghdad especially with current (previous now) Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki of the Islamic Dawa Party State of Law Coalition.
Nonetheless, Iraq’s central government faces serious difficulties, which are characteristic of fragile states in general. As the following discussion reveals, Iraq’s central government has yet to properly address its lack of roots, distributional issues, and national integration. (Brinkerhoff and Johnson 2009, p. 593) Due to its weak national integration, processing the topic of decentralization resurfaces. “Iraq’s experience offers some preliminary affirmation of the desirable impacts of attention to decentralized local governance. Not all of these benefits are fully realized,which is not surprising given the political and social forces at play in Iraq today.” (Brinkerhoff and Johnson 2009, p. 595) Moreover, another contributing factor that is keeping Baghdad back is the lack of experience in fortifying the governing system.
Natural experiments with local governance Iraq prior to 2003 had no local legislative or representative institutions. Governors were appointed by central government, and only an administrative/executive structure existed at the provincial level and below. In 2003—05, over 1000 local councils were formed throughout the 18 provinces. Some early councils were appointed by the occupying military forces, such as the Basra and Mosul City councils. Others were elected through direct vote by province residents. (Brinkerhoff and Johnson 2009, p. 598)
On a different point even though Baghdad went through a rough patch due to lack of experience, and stability it has reemerged under Maliki and seems to be on the rise which will only deliver positive outcomes for Baghdad. However, the same optimism might not be directed towards the KRG, due to Maliki outlook on the Northern autonomous region. Nonetheless, the fragility of Iraq’s democratic transition is undeniable, especially if the increasingly discriminating Iraqi voters are thwarted by the self-interested machinations of politicians. (Dawisha 2010, p. 39)
“Yet prospects are still reasonably hopeful: The 2010 elections were able to go forward in an atmosphere remarkably free of violence, political conflicts were peacefully resolved within the rules of the democratic game, both the electoral process and its results met with general acceptance (occasional shrill objections aside), and the results could not be predicted at any stage of the process—all signs that augur well for the continued growth of democratic attitudes and institutions in Iraq.” (Dawisha 2010, p. 39)
3.3 Challenges that Refrain Iraq from Advancing Towards a Proper Federation
Within this subsection of the study several key points will be evaluated that generally is refraining Iraq from attaining a proper functioning federation. This section will be slightly tied into the previous section of the study by referring to central governmental issues etc.
One of the prevalent issues within the federation is the consistent reference to nations ethnic and religious divide. It is rather important to understand that such divisions have caused great dissatisfaction in the past and the present, and if Iraq wants a federation that it must resolve the issue. The three main groups that are often referred to in Iraq are the two religious affiliates in Sunni and Shia, and the other an ethnic majority in Kurdish.
One of forefront issues is the absence of consensus among Shia’s, Kurds and Sunnis about most issues, including principles of power-sharing and what Iraq is and ought to be. Because they constitute a majority in Iraq, the Shia’s United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) has focused on simple majority rule against consociational power-sharing. (Rafaat 2007, pp. 269-270) However, despite the apparent agreements of the main internal and external players in Iraq over power-sharing, there are many factors that make consociational democracy an unviable method in Iraq. Firstly, as Seaver notes, “power sharing devices have not consistently prevented intercommunion conflicts, yielded peace and stable democracy”. (Rafaat 2007, p. 269)
On a different point due to the constant struggle with power-sharing Baghdad is often undermined and its central authority is belittled. As Smith stresses that Iraq needs a strong central administrative state if only because history has denied it one; today’s Iraq is not a ‘historic’ entity with a long-standing national identity. (Smith 2005, p. 133) More or less Iraq is heading down this road as well; federalism may be the end goal, but it may be instituted on a de facto basis before the administrators or the citizens are ready. (Smith 2005, p. 137) “Federalism is a more complicated system than one of direct governance (like that had under Saddam’s dictatorship). The desire for all parts of Iraqi society to shake off the bounds of dictatorial power emanating from Baghdad.” (Smith 2005, p. 137) So what are the perception of federalism for each group?
“The Shia’s, the Sunnis and the Kurds stand poles apart on the federal question and their differences are apparently unbridgeable. The Sunnis interpret federalism as a conspiracy by the Kurds and the Shia’s to deny them a share of Iraq’s wealth and resources. The Sunni elites also see federalism as a plan to divide Iraq, destroy its territorial unity and deprive other ethnic groups of oil revenues. The Shia’s, in contrast, view the federal reconstruction of Iraq as a positive option that would provide them, as the numerical majority, with the necessary power to control Iraq’s resources and its future. The Kurds are the most vocal supporters of a federated Iraq that would guarantee their autonomy, if not outright independence. For the Kurds, federalism not only guarantees a recognition of their historical and cultural identity in Iraq but also provides adequate safeguards against undue Sunni or Shia domination in future”. (Nuruzzaman 2010, pp. 516-517)
In other words, the Sunnis are distracted with conspiracy theories and are desperately looking for loopholes to regain majority role of the government. The Shia’s as they are the head figure have very limited worries and are for a federation with certain personal beneficiary such as geopolitical gains.
“To sum up, the major obstacles that impede federal state-building processes in Iraq are: (i) the Shia–Sunni sectarian divide and the problems that are likely to arise out of Shia majority dominance in a federated Iraq; (ii) Arab (both Shia and Sunnis) versus non-Arab (mainly Kurds) tensions over the future of Kurdistan regional autonomy; (iii) lack of an interethnic and sectarian consensus on oil revenue sharing; and (iv) the opposition of neighboring countries, particularly Turkey, to a federated Iraqi state with the Kurds holding a separate autonomous status in the north.” (Nuruzzaman 2010, p. 517)
As each party is looking for ways to guarantee more rights and advantages for itself, Daniel Byman provides an alternative outlook to the federalism issue. Byman suggested that the more localized the government is the more in tuned with its citizen it will be and the more successful. At its heart, federalism strengthens local communities at the expense of the national government. When local groups control local government, enjoy their own revenues, and otherwise have their own institutions, they are better able to organize—a key factor that determines their ability to resist the central government should conflict develop. (Byman 2003, p. 56) To advance and portray his argument he provides us a visual representation of the possible areas of improvement in the Iraqi federation. In Figure 1, he provides a pictorial analysis discussing the possibilities that federalism of Iraq raises doubt in border disputes, security issues regarding the possibility of a weak government, and most importantly a lack of cohesive identity. The last point is greatly important because as discussed in the earlier part of the study a lack of identity within the borders Iraq is causing external powers to infiltrate their own federal system one that might not be of proper use or method for Iraq. In other words, Iraq government needs to customize and create a federacy that best suites itself.
The Major issue amongst Iraq’s federalism is ethno-religious sectarianism and territorial conflicts as stated earlier on in the study, both issues cannot be stressed enough due to topic sensitivity in Iraq. “Ethno-sectarian divisions are one important factor in shaping the political landscape, but not the only one. Ideology, nationalism, competition between parties and personalities, and the influence of Iraq’s neighbors all play a significant role as well; moreover, they cut across ethno-sectarian boundaries.” (Alkadiri 2010, p. 1315) First off, the political elites need to evolutionize their outlook on the ethno-religious issues if they hope to advance politically, and societally towards a more federal friendly state.
Hence, one of the most critical and long-lasting has been the ongoing dispute over the extent of the central government’s sovereign power and the limits of postwar federal decentralization. (Alkadiri 2010, p. 1317) Indeed, national reconciliation and the debate over federalism have arguably emerged as the defining issues of Iraqi politics and the ones that will ultimately determine the long-term stability of the state. (Alkadiri, p. 1317)
On another point the disputes regarding ethno-religious issues has sprung an new area of concern regarding territorial independency that will have serious repercussions in the short and long term even as they continue on, as this can be labelled as the federal paradox in Iraq. The study will induce the issue briefly but will elaborate further in the upcoming subsection. Federalism is secession inducing or secession calming is likely to be highly context-dependent. It is very clear that, in the short term (transitional form of authority), federalism is necessary for the maintenance of the territorial integrity of Iraq. (Anderson 2007, p. 169.)
“Over the long term, however, features of Iraqi federalism will challenge the territorial integrity of the state: de facto statehood of the Kurdish region and the commensurate coming-together discourse, the prospect of a unified core region in the Shia area, the plurinational character of Iraq, the ongoing debate about control of resources, and security and legitimacy issues (especially in regards to memories of past injustices that will hold over into a restructured regime) will make Iraq vulnerable to secessionist pressures in the future.”(Anderson 2007, p. 169.)
The security issues and no confidence in the government has exhausted local and external forces. However, it is important to state that the greater extent of issue regarding the government especially the parliament is a lack of experience. The problem lies not merely in the number of different parties represented in the new assembly, a fact that reflects a gradual atomization of Iraqi politics only partly masked by the formation of electoral blocs; it lies also in the inexperience of the vast majority of the members, over 75 per cent of whom are new to the parliament. (AlKadiri, p. 1317)
Source: (Byman 2003, p. 62)
3.4 Territorial or Plurinational Federalism for Iraq’s
This subsection examines the possible geopolitical changes the federalist system might install in Iraq, with the discussion of the territorial and or plurinationalism. This subsection looks at the possibility if federalism were to underachieve unity and solidarity in Iraq, the alternative option as discussed in the earlier part of the study would be dividing the nation into territorialities. This would make politics more localized and precise, which might achieve more stability and security for Iraq regarding ethnic, religious and minority issues. Moreover, since aforementioned issues are consistent part of the problem than any resolving notions would have to abide by these issues.
There are two main approaches to resolving the issue and they are territoriality and plurinational. The first of these—sometimes referred to as ‘‘territorial’’ (or administrative) federalism—advocates drawing boundary lines to divide rather than unite communities. (Anderson & Stanfield 2005, p. 362) Central government in Iraq has approached such a solution with the inception of Kurdish Independency in Northern Iraq. As Anderson and Stanfield pointed such a solution will only divide Iraq into a more localized and diluted (in sense of congruency of governmental centralization) form of government. Moreover, the example in Northern Iraq is more related to the second approach that looks at ethnic divisions.
“The second major approach, sometimes termed the ‘‘ethnic’’ or ‘‘plurinational’’ model of federalism, rests on a different set of assumptions and generates different policy prescriptions regarding the drawing of boundary lines. This approach seems most appropriate in contexts where the divisions among communities are especially deep and intractable, where secessionist sentiment is intense, or where divide-and-conquer approaches are either logistically unfeasible or rejected by one or more communities. In the aftermath of an ethnic civil war, for example, the creation of defensible ‘‘ethnic enclaves’’ may be the only way bring an end to violence and preclude ethnic cleansing.” (Anderson & Stanfield 2005, p. 363)
The second approach leans greatly towards ethnic division to reduce ethnic clashes and establish security and assurance among the major ethnicities in the government. Moreover, as Anderson and Stanfield stressed that if Iraq has any chance to prevent any aggressive ethnic conflicts due to civil war than plurinational would be its best and safest outlook. When looking at the history of Iraq regarding the matter of ethnic cleansing it is a serious and reoccurring action from the Kirkuk and Altunkopru massacre of Turkmen to Saddam Hussein gasing Kurdish residencies. Hence, the establishment of plurinational federalism brings hope to reduce or eliminate such dark events.
On a different point by creating a plurinational division of Iraq it will mostly like result in the three major populace in Shia, Sunni, and Kurds gaining major geopolitical leverage in Iraq. Speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, has been under fire from some for opposition to federalism in Iraq, arguing, predictably, that federalism will lead to the breakup of the country. (Anderson 2007, p. 166)Ultimately, a proposal to federalize Iraq—by, essentially, partitioning the country into three autonomous regions—seems to be well on its way to defeat. While the consensus on federalism in Iraq seems to be fracturing, there is no viable alternative—if maintaining the territorial integrity of the state is desired. (Anderson 2007, pp. 166-167)
Alternatively such an approach has been rumored often in response to power-sharing, which according to Kaufmann rarely works well, and in Iraq its prospects are especially bleak: the Shia’s are too strong to want or need to share power, there is too little trust between communal elites, and no institution in Iraq is capable of guaranteeing anything to anyone. (Kaufmann 2006, p. 157) He also implied that Sunni ‘s majority are the clear cut oppositions to the Shia’s and the sooner they realize that the greatest threat to their well-being is not Iraqi Shia’s or U.S. troops, but foreign jihadists in their midst. Then, perhaps, they would begin to work at restoring order in their country. (Kaufmann 2006, p. 157) The fight against terrorism has been counterproductive and frustrating as neither domestic nor international powers has seemed to provide any solidarity or assurance of safety on the matter.
Aside from both approaches an alternative approach was be drawn out by the central government in Iraq coined LGP (Local Governance Project). LGP activities include: establishment of representative councils, service delivery capacity-building, civil society strengthening, decentralisation policy development and civic dialogue. (Brinkerhoff and Mayfield 2005, p.59) The main goal is to focus on localized governing bodies to be able to make swift and affective decisions.
“This objective is subdivided into four intermediate results: (1) local governments quickly restore citizen access to basic service; (2) local decision- making and policy-making are more transparent and participatory; (3) local government service delivery is effective and efficient, and reflects local priorities and (4) civil society participation and advocacy influence local government decision-making positively, foster transparency and accountability and enhance service delivery.” (Brinkerhoff and Mayfield 2005, p. 60)
In order for the LGP to successfully be incorporated and accepted institutionally there needs to be greater focus and establishing and maintaining democracy, training proper personal to fill each position, establishment of local councils, and promoting civic education. (Brinkerhoff and Mayfield 2005, p.60) The establishment of such a project will definitely consume a vast amount of time; nonetheless,the end result will be worth the wait. Alternatively, there are several issues that are surrounding the project, such as the level of commitment by the central government and how successful can a project of such magnitude be effective in a newly formed federalist nation. In all such, a project can only better civil society in Iraq at the cost of time and patience.
3.5 Final Verdict: Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best
Within the last subsection of the study, an overall assessment will be represented on the current functioning federal form of governance in Iraq. In specific, the study will look at possible solution projects inherited by politicians and academicians in the hopes to shed some light on the disputed matter that is federalism. Some of the approaches were discussed briefly if former parts of the study, but within this section they will be diligently clarified with thorough explanations and examples.
Before the study engages with any specific approach, it is important to stress the importance of foreign influence in establishing federalism in Iraq. During the US occupation of Iraq, the Bush Administration along with its allies of Europe had a rather difficult to achieve vision in spreading democracy throughout the Middle East incepting from Iraq. The Bush doctrine as it became known was aiming for a democratic goal, but using means that were, often as not, better suited for other purposes. The administration was in the grip of a belief in magic Hegelianism, which is to say, End of History, which allowed the administration to believe that, once Saddam had been removed, democracy was going to emerge without anyone’s having to make much effort. (Berman 2007, p. 47) Moreover, according to Bush ‘‘the transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.’’(Salamey and Pearson 2005, p. 190) Since Bush left and Obama took over the mission in Iraq, both sides have reached great strides, and the hopes for the US to fully withdraw itself from one of the most costly foreign interventions since Vietnam and Afghanistan will defiantly bring relief to them and freedom to Iraq.
Differently, the establishment of federalism could make significance changes for Iraq which was limited in means of freedom under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Thus, “depending upon how it is administered, therefore, Iraqi federalism could prove to be an active ingredient in regional instability and ethno-religious fragmentation. Ethnic and sectarian groups in the Middle East might be encouraged by the Iraqi example to seek the intervention of outside powers in demanding autonomous regions of their own.” (Salamey and Pearson 2005, p. 199) However, a multi-ethnic multi-sectarian Middle East, this would imply a widespread geopolitical upheaval leading toward greater fragmentation and instability and potentially toward more governmental repression and police states. As yet none of the federalist advocates have provided satisfactory answers and implemental plans. (Salamey and Pearson 2005, p. 199)
However, it is important to note that as war rages on and instability rises politicians and academicians start doubting the capability of federalism in hopes of providing peace in Iraq and much less in the Middle East region. Nonetheless, academicians have stressed and worried about the possibility that federalism will create greater decentralization that could have some significant negative repercussions. However, decentralization and other forms of conflictions could be avoided by emphasizing on three key criteria’s that would strengthen federalism and deepening democracy in Iraq -—franchise, scope, and authenticity— provides a useful backdrop for discussing Iraqi governance. (Mingus 2012, p. 678-679)
“– Franchise refers to “the number of participants in any political setting.” The franchise grew dramatically as Iraq moved from dictatorship through a constitutional referendum, two provincial elections, and two national elections.
— Scope refers to “the domains of life under democratic control.” Few aspects of life were truly in the private sphere because of Iraq’s historical legacy of centralized dictators and because a central tenet of Baathism—the reigning political philosophy in Iraq from 1958 to 2003—is socialism.
— Authenticity refers to “the degree to which democratic control is substantive rather than symbolic, informed rather than ignorant, and completely engaged.” Authenticity is rightfully being questioned at every turn because of sectarianism, real and perceived corruption, the American occupation, and a perceived failure of the government to deliver basic services.” (Mingus 2012, p. 679)
As Brancati suggests that any form of federal system that is adopted in Iraq will in one way or another influence the security issues in the Middle East region. For he stresses, the value of federalism by pointing out that the failure to design and implement the kind of federalism that can establish a stable democracy in Iraq might undermine international support for other U.S. initiatives in the region, including negotiations for Arab-Israeli peace. (Brancati 2004, p. 20) “Iraq’s federal government must therefore be designed carefully so as to give regional government’s extensive political and financial autonomy, to include Kirkuk in the Kurdish region that is created, and to limit the influence of identity-based political parties. The short- and long-term stability of Iraq and the greater Middle East depend on it.” (Brancati 2004, p. 20) A form of democracy that was discussed in the former part of the study was the case of consociational democracy and how it might bring short-term resolution but create greater issues in the long term.
In other words, consociational democracy is a system of compromise and accommodation, in which the different groups will likely be represented in the highest government positions and the cabinet according to their demographic size. (Rafaat 2007, p. 271) This creates diversity and clear cut decision making atmosphere at the highest form of government. However, scrutiny of the characteristics of Iraqi society, it is clear that it is a heterogeneous community dominated by ethnic-nationalism, a clash of identities, conflicts of interest, and exclusive visions. (Rafaat 2007, p. 271) In time,the consociational regime will break apart, and indeed Iraq is likely to be partitioned. In such a case, Kurdish secession would be inevitable and the Shia’s would assume control over the rest of the country. (Rafaat 2007, p. 271)
Departing from the previous argument there are two possible solutions that federal democracy can instigate for Iraqi politics, both of whom results in the division of Iraq into independent regions along ethnic and or religions line. Even though both propositions are far shot from actually being implemented in Iraq, nonetheless it is comprehensible proposition the undoubtedly saviours the interest of the majority parties. “The first propositions is explained as such by drawing Iraq’s regional borders along, rather than across, ethnic and religious lines would create three distinct regional governments in Iraq in which the Kurds, Shia’s, and Sunnis each have a majority.” (Brancati 2004, p. 15) Figure 2 illustrates the North will be controlled by the Kurds, the from Baghdad South Wards all way to Basra will be controlled by the Shia’s and from Baghdad westwards all the way to the Syrian border will be Sunni controlled. Drawing Iraq’s borders along ethnic and religious lines, however, may promote ethnic conflict by creating regional minorities within the subnational governments. (Brancati 2004, p. 17.)
Alternatively, to the 3 region division is the 5 region model. The map of the region can be referred to in Figure 3.
“One of the purposes of adopting a federal systems to for Iraq is to devolve power from the center to the periphery (a point of consensus among scholars), but this is difficult to achieve when the center is simultaneously the capital city, a province, the cultural, economic, and communications hub of the country, and home to over one-fourth of the country’s population. The five-region model creates regions with a more symmetrical population distribution. Greater Baghdad would still be the most populous, but it would coexist with four other regions, each with 4–5 million inhabitants. That five regions will have more power (all else being equal) relative to eighteen provinces is largely self-evident.” (Anderson & Stansfield 2005, p. 376)
Even though the 5 region model seems productive but once again it only seems to achieve and establish short term stability and assurance. The two most obvious objections to the five-region model are, first, that the division of Iraq into five separate communal ‘‘enclaves’’ will entrench rather than ameliorate inter-communal tensions and, second, that this model is a recipe for the future fragmentation of the state. (Anderson & Stansfield 2005, p. 379) The 5 region is not best of models but it is the only one that pays attention and try to distinguish the constant clashes between nationalism and ethnic/religious tension.
Figure 2: Ethno-Linguistic Groups in Iraq 2009
Source: (Brancati 2004, p. 9)
Figure 3: A Five-Region Model of Federalism
Source: (Anderson & Stansfield 2005, p. 375)
Chapter 4: Conclusion
In conclusion the topic of federalism and democracy have been one of the most important terms in the earliest part of the twentieth first century, with special attention drawn to the Middle East. The aim of thestudy was to analyze how the federation of Iraq has withstood international and national scrutiny and is it the best possible form of government for the nation and maybe hoping it will create a domino effect and federacies or democratise the greater Middle East. One thing is for sure that due to the high scarcity ethnic and religious clashes and rise of ethno-religious sectarianism in general public and Iraqi governance federalism is the most viable system available.
Such a claim is true because federalism tries to instigate cooperation, equality and abolishing of discrimination. However, in the case of Iraq there were great discussion on how federalism preaches the dispersing of power and authority, in hopes to localize power and politics to be more in tuned with what the people want. As demonstrated in the study such, an ideal will only lead to decentralization. In the case of Iraq,it means diminishing or limiting the role of central government that is headed by the UIA and its leader in Maliki.
Moreover, by decentralizing the government’s power and inducing power sharing methods of governance it evidently creates newer issues revolving around the KRG and their mission to seek independence from Iraq. Even of the KRG are unsuccessful in achieving full independence their second best achievement would be to gain autonomy from Iraq to peruse alternative political and economic paths to better their political position domestically and internationally.
However, even though the central government in Baghdad is pro-federalism much like the three major party groups along Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish ethnicities, it is not ready to completely hand over its legitimacy. Through the promotion of federalism, the study looked at some possible outlooks that it might provide for Iraq in 3 region an 5 region models of diffusing Iraq territoriality along ethnic and religious lines. Hence, all these models and ideas are significant in making a change that will best fit for Iraq.
However, for the time being politicians and academicians, have to stay optimistic in the case of Iraq for it will soon near its first decade of federalism. Nonetheless the less there is much to learn and adapt but its seems like time will solve and heal all pains and wounds especially if the end-result will be the safety of citizens and their well-being. Thus, that is the aim of the Iraq government to provide good, safe and healthy environment for its citizens, and if all these qualities can be delivered by federalism then great. If not then they need to search for a form of government that best suits them regardless of external pressure. As Mustafa Kemal Atatürk said, “Peace at home, peace in the world.”
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