Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Baghdad’s Reform to Halt Iraq’s Secession | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraq’s Vice President Nouri al-Maliki speaks during an interview with Reuters in Baghdad REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Give the Kurds a real stake in Baghdad’s government, and then they will let go of the separation idea. Right now, they are conferred honorary posts without powers just like many components of the Iraqi state, which was founded, post the invasion, on a participatory parliamentary system.

Almost all the countries in the region oppose the idea of any territory’s separation, which will not let Kurdistan’s plan easy to be achieved. There is increased fear that the central Iraqi authority, along with Iran and Turkey, will wage a war against the Kurdish ‘state,’ especially after 92 percent of the Kurds in Kurdistan region supported the separation from their country, Iraq.

Separation is a long and dangerous political route as it includes military confrontations and a painful economic blockade; At the same time, the Kurds are determined, and even if they hold back somehow now, they will pursue it later.

The reason why the Kurds’ project is worrisome is that the rest of Iraq’s provinces and governorates are dominated by separatist ideas that will eventually lead to the end of Iraq as we know it. An Iraq we have known since 1920 – the country whose borders were set by the Britons and the French.

Solutions exist if there is a sincere intention to stop the separation that threatens to destroy Iraq and the region.

The political parties in Baghdad should grant the Kurds the powers and guarantees that they are not only a memorial image but also partners in the government. If that happens, the justifications will end.

The Kurds, like the rest of Iraqi parties on which the new Iraq project was based, were marginalized and their presence was eliminated by the governing partners, political figures and other Iraqi parties after the Americans, who were guarantors of the political project, left the country.

Baghdad is the capital of the entire state and is supposed to be run by all groups that represent the country to reflect the participatory governance project, which was designed by the Americans.

The imbalance began in the era of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki when the government’s powers were seized and given to Maliki only.

After that, the parties that have an armed presence in Baghdad imposed their demands, and the capital became ruled by armed militias, backed by Iran, which was successfully able to legitimize them under the Popular Mobilization Forces’ banner.

Similarly, there are religious references that some are trying to impose as a political reference. Now, the fatwa given by these religious references precedes the parliamentary vote and the government’s decisions.

What is the value of the state’s legislative institutions, such as the parliament, if it is incompetent, and the Supreme Court is subject to what the political leaders want while the current government cannot impose its decisions when opposed by parties supported by armed groups?!

In this perspective, why do we expect the Kurds, and any other political group, to commit themselves to a state without identity or full powers?

This is why the Iraqi state, not only the government, needs to reform its status through supporting its legal authority, respecting its constitution and pledging to treat everyone equally under its law.

Iraq must not only chase ISIS militants and separatists from Kurdistan but should also fight whoever violates its rules and regulations.

During the years of war against terrorism, the slogan was that the Iraqi state would not allow anyone to carry arms other than its military institution and that it would not accept any territory or governorate to be run by illegal groups.

Wars were waged under this promise; Anbar and Salah al-Din provinces were cleansed, and Mosul and many other cities were liberated.

However, in southern and central Iraq, state authorities were weakened. The head of the Popular Mobilization Forces became more important than the prime minister, and Vice President Maliki voiced his opposition and incitement against the prime minister.

This is how they weakened the state until the Kurds decided that the time has come for their independence.

To stop the separation conflict, give the Kurds real powers not only theatrical acting roles. This will also stop the ongoing conflicts among some Sunni Arabs in Anbar and some Shiites in Basra – who are waiting for Kurdistan’s separation so they can wage their own war.

Unless Baghdad is a state for all Iraqis, secession will not stop.​ ​