March 14, 2024

Is Iraqi Federalism Under Threat

The Federal Supreme Court (FSC) has issued multiple rulings that impact the nature of the relationship between the federal government in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. Many of these decisions, some of which date back to 2022, have been criticized by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The KDP claims that they defy the federal principles that had been agreed upon during the post-2003 state-building negotiations. However, this sentiment is not shared by the other major Kurdish parties in Iraq, including the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the New Generation Movement, which have been responsible for filing lawsuits at the FSC targeting the KDP. Understanding the politics at play reveals that it is not Iraqi federalism that is under threat, but rather the political strangle hold of the KDP on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

It is inevitable that Baghdad will get caught up in a contest between the KDP and PUK.

The governing structure of Iraqi Kurdistan was formed in the aftermath of the 1991 Iraqi uprising, when coalition forces enforced a no-fly zone that gave it de-facto autonomy from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. This structure was codified in the 2005 Iraqi constitution. The idea of self-governance extends back to the 1970 Kurdish Autonomy deal between the Ba’ath party and Kurdish leadership and even further back to the formation of the modern Iraqi state when the occupying British appointed Mahmud Barzanji as the governor of Sulaymaniyah, only to have him declare himself the King of Kurdistan. From the onset of the modern state of Iraq, Kurds wanted more than self-governance within a federalist structure, but had to settle for that because of international pressures.

Read the full article from 1001 Iraqi Thoughts.

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