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Iraq’s federalism quandary

Sean Kane, Joost Hiltermann, and Raad Alkadiri write for The National Interest:

For Kurds, federalism has almost acquired the status of a religious belief system because it is tied to their century-old quest for their own state. But for many Iraqi Arabs, federalism is seen as synonymous with partition. Especially among Iraqi nationalists, there is fear that if the Kurdish federalist vision is implemented, it would bring about what Peter Galbraith, a controversial and influential advisor to the KRG, called “the end of Iraq.”

... All this friction raises questions about whether the constitution contains intrinsic flaws that prevent accommodation. It is based on the idea that federalism should be symmetrical, meaning that levels of autonomy should be equivalent for all regional governments.

... But if the rest of Iraq were to get this one-size-fits-all style of autonomy, the survival not only of the central government but of the country itself could be threatened. Hence Baghdad’s hard line with Erbil and fierce response to any new regional initiatives.

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