D.Abdul Nasser al-Mahdawy
Translated by Shaimaa Shedeed
Recently, some governorates witnessed a new political mobility requires turning the governorates into regions according to the Iraqi constitution and legislation in force, taking the Kurdistan Region as an example. These governorates are topped by Basra and Nineveh which both require formation of appropriate commissions, collection of signatures of governorate’s administrative system members or collection of signatures from one tenth of voters in the governorates in addition to other legal requirements based on the Iraqi constitution implying turning these governorates into regions. Regardless the different tendencies of each governorate’s people, there is a common ground which is the intention of getting into this way unhesitatingly and according to the Iraqi law in force.
Last years (2006-2014) and during the sectarian and excluding reign of al-Maliki, other Sunni governorates witnessed a similar trend. After Saladin governorate came Diyala with signatures of half of its governorate council members requiring turning the governorate into a region according to the constitution. Actually, Basra governorate was the first one asked to be regionalized on the tongue of its former governorate Wael Abdulatif who is still convinced that turning the governorate into a region will end the governorate’s misery in terms of services.
Unexpectedly, requirement of Diyala governorate was confronted by severe aggression from the sectarian excluding project represented in banditry performed by armed civilians or others wearing civilian clothes although some of them were from the internal security forces. Meanwhile, the governorate council was occupied by armed militias, the governorate building was cordoned off by four cordons, member of governorate council who gave the relevant speech was detained and house of the governor was attacked by armed groups by the assistance of the police itself. Writer of this article himself witnessed these events and that aforementioned is merely tip of the iceberg of violations committed by the central ruling system and its militias then.
In general, the motive of these governorates requiring regionalization is the feeling of marginalization, exclusion and enmity to the political rivals, which led to a civil mobility and sit- ins in the Arab Sunni governorates. Although these sit-ins and demonstrations were peaceful and targeted legal demands, it was met with brute force and the sectarian politicians then didn’t hide their screwed sectarian policy. Rather, they kept practicing their tyrant and unfair policies until they delivered these governorates to the terrorism intentionally or unintentionally, which resulted in more killing processes, migration of these governorates’ inhabitants, and destruction of the infrastructure.
Today, same sad solecism is being played in Basra and Nineveh despite the fair decreasing of the sectarian trend in comparison to the al-Abbadi time. The same requirement is being urged during the ruling of Abdul Mahdi whose reign is expected to be better on political level despite his uncompleted cabinet and despite the politicians’ trend to reform the political system especially in the Reform and Constriction alliance and Construction alliance who both fairly submitted to this reform trend. No one can deny that these demands are legal and should be respected as long as they aren’t against the constitution.
However, the current mobility in such governorates may be needless as long as the law number 12 for the year 2008 relevant to the Governorates Not Organized that was modified in 2013 is applied. In case of applying such law practically, the governorates power will increase and will be variable and even will be able to be managed by its sons. Even in case these governorates are kept the same without regionalization, there is a modification issued in August 2013 relevant to the governorates law stated some clauses increased the independence of the governorates not organized in a region from the central authority in terms of powers and financial resources. As for the powers and competencies side, in clause number 6 of the article number 2, the constitution stated that “the common competencies stated in articles number 112,113,114 shall be managed in cooperation with the federal and local governments and priority shall be given to the regulations of governorates not organized in case disparity happens between both sides according to regulations of article number 115 of the constitution.”
Applying this law will probably lead us to a similar relation currently standing between the central government and Kurdistan region such as article number 112 of the constitution which is related to the oil and natural resources. Under the light of the independent oil policy followed by Kurdistan, such modification gives the governorates a similar track. Thus, whatever is the form of the central administration; it should be applied including the reformed governorates law. In this case the law should be applied with a mechanism balances between the decentralized competencies of the governorate and the continuity of the central power efficiency in a way keeps its sense of credibility and nationalism.
In this context, there is a question about the form of the decentralized administration in Iraq. Will this keep the governorates (out of Kurdistan) as they are but by applying a law for the governorates (number 12 for the year 2008) that has been modified, or will this get the governorates organized in areas\regions?
In fact, some analyzers and some political sides preferred to avoid the option of organizing the governorates (out of Kurdistan) in areas or regions due to two factors. Firstly, the fear from reaching to a result of turning these areas or the regions into micro-states of conflicting sectarian or ethnic trait that brings constant regional and international interference. Secondly, the fear from emergence of region or regions in Basra, the southern area, to be as independent as Kurdistan region, which may weaken other areas politically and may decrease the power field of the central administration as this governorate is reliable in terms of financing other centers and areas on the short term and the long one through the federal budget. However, it is noteworthy that this kind of fears will be there even after applying the governorates’ law and even after keeping the governorates the same and not organizing them in areas or region.
Consequently, if the new government was keen on building the state in general and on responding to the peoples’ needs, law number 21 for the year of 2008 that had been modified in 2013 would be applied and a huge financial result would get back to the southern governorates righteously and with free will. Nevertheless, this can’t be done in Iraq because the decision in Iraq depends on the weak central policy that does nothing but worsening the living level of the Iraqi people, which negatively affected the Iraqi society in general.
The situation is the same in the Arab Sunni governorates whose parliament members turned to the old systems that represents the Construction Alliance which socially deemed as they don’t represent the Arab Sunni governorates, rather, they represent themselves and their narrow and categorical interests. This will lead to a huge vacuum for leaders formerly targeted by the excluding sectarian project. For example, leaders like Tarek al-Hashemy and Rafea al-Eissawy and others were prominent figures in the political processes but were intentionally removed for null charge and most of us know their sincerity in their trend and that the political process can’t be modified without finishing such file.
The hope today depends on the new government that was hardly formed, on the presidency in specific and on the Reform and Construction Coalition in general due to its intention to reform the political system and the judiciary one. Thus, we urge them to redress the oppressed people, release the innocents in the prisons, make final decisions relevant to those symbols of Sunni politicians who refused terrorism, preserve the general freedoms and human rights, effectuate the constitution with its entire articles without dual or selective trend such as that trend of former sectarian government and effectuate law number 21 for the year 2008 that was modified in 2013 by giving all competencies of governorates not organized and achieving the decentralized system guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution and the resulting laws. In this case, there is no justification left for Basra and Nineveh people and others to ask for regionalizing their governorates or in other words getting their governorates organized in regions but, instead, they have to accept the wise rule that guarantees fairness in the Iraqi political arena, which will please all Iraqi people.