Thursday, August 14, 2008

Basra group reported starting one-governate federal region campaign

This is a few days old, but Iraqalaan says a meeting of civic leaders in Basra announced on Saturday the commencement of a campaign to earn for the single governate of Basra the status of a federal region (something the constitution provides for under the same provisions as for a federal region of several governates), with a call for citizens to sign a petition, soon to be distributed. This will be presented to the central government with a formal request for a referendum on the issue.

The announcement at the meeting was made by Wail AbdulLatif, described as an independent member of the Iraqi parliament from Basra, and the proposal is being supported by the governor of Basra, Muhammad Musbih al-Waili, who is a senior person in the Fadhila party, which is presumably (and Reidar Visser says in fact it is) supporting the project. A number of academic studies on legal and other aspects of the scheme were presented at the meeting, but there aren't details.

The proponents of the scheme talk about the advantages of being able to provide basic services to the citizenry (something that is not the case now, they say), establish equitable methods for the distribution of wealth, and generally end the political and economic marginalization of Basra under the central Baghdad government. The governor, in his remarks to Iraqalaan said it is true there will be complications and no doubt some failures along the way, but in the long run status as a federal region is the best alternative for the governate.

This news-item doesn't explicitly mention the Fadhila affiliation of the governor, or refer to any particular political-party promotion of the scheme. All the writer says is that there are some blocs in Baghdad that oppose the federal system (outside of Kurdistan region) in principle, like the Iraqi Accord Front, and some that support it in principle, like the Supreme Council, but he adds that the latter party is for a large multi-governate federal region in the South and Center of Iraq.

The purpose of the news-item is merely to introduce the scheme and to note that the promoters are getting ready to distribute the initial petition for signatures. It doesn't talk about the various issues this could raise if it goes ahead--for instance the relationship of Basra to the neighboring provinces of Maysan and Dhi Qar which have been part of earlier talk about a three-governate region of the Southeast; or relationship to the other provinces in the Supreme Council's proposed nine-governate region.

(h/t Ladybird at


Anonymous Reidar said...

Wail Abd al-Latif, ex-governor of Basra, ex-member of Wifaq, first came up with this scheme in late 2003. He revived it last February when he launched his new political party, Hizb al-Dawla. The big test will be what happens when and if he actually approaches the elections commission office in Basra with a signed petition asking to have a referendum for Basra as a one-governorate federal entity.

The recent meeting in Basra was notable for the relatively assertive language on oil resources – Abd al-Latif used to be more reticent in this regard. (This refers to the potential small regional fissure inside the otherwise nationalist 22 July group of parties referred to earlier.) The continuing secularist-Islamist cooperation on this non-sectarian federal scheme is also interesting.

2:01 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Thank you again!

Hopefully, which seems to be the only Basrah paper online, will feature developments in this prominently (so I don't miss them through sloppiness, as it seems I did this meeting...)

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Alamet said...

Apologies for going OT, but I wanted to make sure you didn't miss Max Fuller's latest article: State-Sanctioned Paramilitary Terror in Basra Under British Occupation

It's about Thar Allah, subtitled The Life, Murderous Times and Enigmatic Death of Sayed Yussef Sinawee al Mosawi

4:14 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Thanks, that looks like an excellent read.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Reidar said...

It is noteworthy that many Iraqis believe that the main character in the report quoted above, Yusuf al-Musawi, is still alive: last month, Fadila accused Maliki of having facilitated Musawi’s escape from prison in Basra and his transfer to Iran. Cooperation between ISCI and Tharallah became formalised in early 2005 when Tharallah joined ISCI’s coalition list (287) in Basra. A report in al-Manara from February 2006 shows a picture of Tharallah members marching in the streets of Basra behind a banner with the text “The Martyr Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim Squadron”.

ISCI helped both Tharallah and other allies like the Sayyid al-Shuhada movement obtain vacant seats in the Basra council even though they had not been elected to them. They (or Maliki) may have sought to neutralise Tharallah in the March 2008 operations, but the Sayyid al-Shuhada movement, another group with particularly close Iran ties, appears to have played a key role alongside ISCI in escalating the Basra operations against the Sadrists and seem to remain a staunch ally of Hakim alongside “Hizbollah in Iraq” (not to be confused with Hizbollah of Iraq [Muhammadawi] , Hizbollah [in Lebanon], or the Hizbollah Brigades).

3:51 AM  

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