Thursday, September 28, 2006

Another illustration of "federalism" in the bad sense

Al-Seyassah on Thursday September 28 reports, as most Arab papers did, the remarks of Talabani in favor of permanent US bases in Kurdistan, then Al-Seyassah adds this paragraph as an indication of Iraqi/Sunni feelings about what is going on here. My specific point here is that at the end of his quoted remarks, the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament equates "foreign agendas for the imposition of a federalism based on sectarianism", with the traditional idea of "fitna" which means, in effect, all-out, chaotic, sect-based violence.

Meanwhile [the journalist writes] the president of the Iraqi Parliament Dr Mahmoud Mashhadani said 'The nation needs those of her sons who are sincere, and it needs Arab support, to rescue the country from fragmentation, which will only result in the fragmentation of the region as a whole.' And he warned in remarks on Arab Voice Radio of what he called the 'historic crisis' through which Iraq is going right now, warning also of the risk of igniting of sect-based fitna, thus in effect 'realizing the foreign agendas aimed at bringing about federalism on the basis of sectarianism.' And Mashhadani said in his opinion the cause of what is going on in Iraq right now is the reality of the occupation, [and also] the weak behavior of some sects, and the suspect behavior of others that are igniting this sect-based fitna.
Here is the Arabic text from the middle of the linked article:
في غضون ذلك اكد رئيس مجلس النواب العراقي الدكتور محمود المشهداني ان بلاده " تحتاج الى المخلصين من ابنائها والى دعم عربي ينقذ البلاد من التفتيت الذى سيتسبب في تفتيت المنطقة كلها", وحذر في تصريح لاذاعة " صوت العرب " مما وصفه "بالمأزق التاريخي" الذى يمر به العراق حاليا منبها الى خطورة تأجيج الفتنة الطائفية "تنفيذا لاجندات خارجية لتحقيق الفيدرالية على اساس طائفي", ورأى المشهداني "ان ما يحدث في العراق حاليا سببه وجود الاحتلال وضعف اداء بعض الطوائف والاداء المشبوه للبعض الذى يؤجج الفتنة الطائفية".
This negative use of the term "federalism" harks back to the Nasrullah victory speech in which he said discourse about splits, or about federalism, or about cantonization, "is an Israeli discourse", and the Iraqi newspaper Azzaman reported the speech as Nasrullah saying "no to federalism". I think it is noteworthy that for some Sunni as well as Shiite leaders, the ideas of cantonization, fitna, occupation, and federalism, all go together.


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