Federalism: Hope for Future in Iraq

D. Mohannad Yousuf
New Iraq Center Advisor
Translated by Shaimaa Shedeed
One of the federal system hypothesis in Iraq that it won’t be based on sectarian, racist or geographic considerations, instead, it will be based on the nature of the Iraqi society for which federalism is the best solution that can build bridge of realities related to the land, human being, relations among different local communities.
However, it seems that the ruling class in Iraq takes the way of triggering the sectarian feelings in the local and international communities as an approach by focusing on the past decades in a way made the exercise of the authority subject to personal and sectarian restrictions rather than the constitution, law and human nature.
Actually, the federal project suggested for Iraq and stated in the clauses of the draft constitution brings a broad discussion including the opinions of constitution, law and politics experts. It will also bring comments on the sectarianism issue and whether the former regime was sectarian or not and will search the relation between the former regime and Sunnis and whether the federal system will establish a sectarian racist system against Shiites or not. Besides, the discussions are predicted to analyze the modern Sunni vigilance in Iraq towards sectarianism to see if it represents a general Islamic Sunni activity.
In fact, the Iraqi Sunnis suffered unprecedented unfairness, marginalization, exclusion, eradication, killing, displacement, demographic change, corruption and discrimination never witnessed by any other sect in Iraq’s modern history. Regrettably, what happened for them didn’t merely include a social conflict, rather, it included international and regional factors severed the conflict to cover Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
In this context, we can’t deny that some sectarian or doctrinal bias appeared from some officials in the state one time for the Sunni interests and other time for the Shiite ones depending on the conflict nature and its interrelated trait, nevertheless, this can’t by any mean justify adopting the sectarianism in the ruling system.
Resistance to occupation was the main reason behind the sectarianism emergence in Iraq. It actually began in the Sunni triangle that was loyal to the former regime throughout the duration of national rule. Consequently, the basic structure of resistance was of Sunnis, which led to the sectarianism in the rule in Baghdad. Then, the Sunni left the rule for the sake of resistance while the Shiite left the resistance for the sake of rule.
In general, the Sunni institution and its people opposed the political system established after occupation and thy spread that quote of “Fruit of the poisonous tree” everywhere, nevertheless, this institution realized from the beginning that the division was the only way to topple the political process.
We can say that majority of the Sunni resistance targeted the expulsion of the occupation and that some Sunni factions had no relation with the former regime by any mean and never targeted getting it back to power. More importantly, this resistance never had any plan or program for establishing new system or a vision about the Iraqi state after occupation.
On the other hand, since the outfall of former regime, the Shiites worked on the emergence of the Shiite identity in order to form and establish suitable political representation in the political process. In addition, it established parties and charity associations and persistently emphasized the reference in Najaf through calling for and urging the practice of the Shiite sectarian rituals in regular way, almost weekly.
Therefore, the big sectarian isolation between Sunnis and Shiites happened especially after the first elections, the recognition of the current constitution, Saddam execution and Samarra explosion, which made both sides accuse one another of politicizing the religion, disbelief and espionage. Indeed, such atmosphere didn’t pour in both sides’ interests all these years, instead, it weakened the political system, divided the nation more and more and increased corruption in different political classes.
As a matter of fact, Shiites and their social and demographic structure in addition to their relation with Iran and their doctrinal, political and economic openness made them more likely to adopt the theory of fundamental Shiite imamate, which means an Iraqi version of the guardianship of the Islamic jurist. This point in specific refers to the Shiite political regime narrow mildness, fanaticism and lack of openness to others including Sunnis and Kurds which inevitably points to its sectarianism.
Concerning the Arab Sunnis, their families are usually non-religious and most of them came from Sunni origins of Sunni families but lost their old sense of belonging to the state. In general they became not caring for Islamic Sharia after their agony with occupation and terrorism, furthermore, atheism dramatically spread among their young people.
Thus, the grassroots which stands as a pillar for any strong structural and political system has become clear and obvious for the Shiites especially in the south areas. This prevailed in the last elections where most victors were in relation with this group.
Hence, when we begin our federalism relevant discussions in the coming articles, we should build it in a way suits the interests of the entire society. We can’t only depend on the book that praise the federalism and the administrative decentralization that mostly disregard the real consequences on the Iraqi earth. We can’t also depend on that vision of some factions that see an illusionary interest in federalism, rather, Iraqi people in general should be involved in the real political work and determine their stance and not to pay attention to the political maneuverings.

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