2002 October 28 Monday
Kanan Makiya Argues For Iraqi Federal Model

Even if Makiya's preference of territorial divisions of Iraq into some federal states is implemented Iraq's territorial integrity will still depend on an army. The army might be Iraqi or it might be American. But Iraq is not a natural state that is going to stay together absent a powerful force. If a democracy is maintained then the Shia South will come to dominate the government due to greater Shia numbers. One can only guess what they will be like in power:

How should these different parts of the new Iraqi federation be defined? One approach rests on ethnicity. In some accounts this leads to an Iraq composed of two regions, one Arab, one Kurdish. The Kurds are the driving force behind this definition. But non-Kurdish Iraqis have three problems with this formulation. First, it will cause ethnicity to become the basis for making territorial claims, especially with regards to valuable resources located in one region and not another. The fight over Kirkuk is already proceeding in this direction, with Arab, Kurdish and Turkoman claims competing over this oil-rich city. Second, when a federation is defined as being about two ethnic groups, then clearly all the other ethnic groups, who do not have a share in the federation, are likely to be discriminated against. Why should an Armenian, Chaldean, or Turkoman citizen of Iraq have fewer rights as an individual than an Arab or a Kurd? Third, ethnic groups are not all territorially concentrated. There are Kurds in Baghdad, Arabs in Sulaymaniyya, and Turkomans, Armenians and Chaldeans mixed in with Arabs and Kurds in many areas. Therefore, a federation of many ethnic groups would be no improvement on a federation made up of only two large groups.

My advice is to create more federal districts than there are ethnic groups. There should be multiple federal districts in the northern Kurdish region and in the southern Shia region. This will reduce the odds that any one ethnic group will be organized into a single coherent bloc against the other ethnic groups. Also, it may be necessary to have a Senate where different districts with different sized populations each have the same number of votes.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 28 07:39 PM 

razib said at October 29, 2002 12:05 AM:

and the sunni arabs had a large tribal/clan component that trumps their religion and ethnicity.

Randall Parker said at October 29, 2002 11:25 AM:

Razib, it looks hopeless.

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