Iraq’s Basra, Salahuddin Revive Pursuit for Federal Independence
Iraqis continued protesting against corruption and poor services, meanwhile 15 members of Basra’s provincial council renewed their call for establishing Basra as a federal province recognized by the Iraqi constitution.
On the other hand, the central government in Baghdad said state petrodollar funds allocated for the province, standing at approximately $3 billion, have been delivered.
Basra, in 2008, followed by Salahuddin Governorate in 2013, applied for the establishment of administrative federalism, but former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki aborted the idea of a Basra or Salahuddin federal region being established.
Prominent politician and one of Basra federal establishment greatest campaigners Judge Wael Abdullatif told Asharq Al- Awsat that Basra’s demand for being recognized as a federal state is a constitutional right.
“The establishment of Federal regions is a constitutionally stipulated right on the condition that new forces take control over the decision-making process other than the Islamic parties linked to Iran,” Abdullatif said.
“Maliki's government had frozen steps taken by the Salahuddin Provincial Council to establish federal territorial recognition, but the Council filed an appeal to the Administrative Court which ruled in favor of the province,” former Salahuddin parliamentary representative Sheikh Salahuddin told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He added that the only step needed is to carry a local referendum.
In Basra, some demonstrators raised demands calling to declare their province a federal region and called for a total overthrow of the acting political system.
"The request made by the Basra council's 15 members, representing various orientations in the province, is a legitimate one s... But everything depends on what the people of the province say on the day of the referendum-- will they accept federalism or stay under central government management?” Abdullatif questioned.
“Demands for regional federalism are constitutional, and the central government cannot stop them under any pretext. Successive governments, since 2004, placed obstacles in order to buy time,” he said.