Southern oil provinces vie for autonomy

Citing impatience with the central government, leaders in Iraq’s richest oil provinces have taken early steps towards combining into a semi-autonomous southern region.
Then-Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani (R) speaks with China's energy giant CNOOC director Yang Hua as Turkey's TPAO director Mehmet Uysal listens on following the signing of an oil deal in Baghdad on May 17, 2010, while other members of the delegation look on. Buoyed by projected oil revenues and discontent with Baghdad, the provinces of Missan, Basra and Dhi Qar are seriously contemplating forming a semi-autonomous federal region. (SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Leaders in the oil-rich provinces of Basra, Dhi Qar and Missan are trying to shift power from the central government to the provinces, proposing to combine into a new southern region modeled after the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in the north.

Over the past month and a half, provincial leaders have increasingly voiced dissatisfaction with Baghdad over issues including oil development, electricity distribution, unemployment, and the continuing presence of U.S. troops. Some have proposed regional autonomy as one step that would ensure greater control over economic, energy, and security policy.

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