The State Department Really Doesn’t Want to Break Up Iraq

A decentralized federal system is best for Iraq and for U.S. interests, a State Department official says.

Iraqi MP Qutaiba al-Jubouri waits for the start of the first session of the new parliament in Baghdad.
National Journal
Kaveh Waddell
Add to Briefcase
Kaveh Waddell
July 23, 2014, 11:37 a.m.

The solu­tion to the crisis in Ir­aq is not to break the coun­try up in­to two or three states, ac­cord­ing to a State De­part­ment of­fi­cial. The best al­tern­at­ive is to set up a fed­er­al sys­tem that dis­trib­utes power to loc­al gov­ern­ments and se­cur­ity forces, al­low­ing for some re­gion­al autonomy while keep­ing the en­tire coun­try un­der Bagh­dad’s fed­er­al um­brella.

The of­fi­cial, Deputy As­sist­ant Sec­ret­ary of State for Ir­aq and Ir­an Brett McGurk, ad­voc­ated for a “cent­ral-re­gion­al-pro­vin­cial” ap­proach to se­cur­ity and gov­ernance in front of the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day. In such a sys­tem, loc­al cit­izens would be in charge of se­cur­ing the re­gions where they live, with backup from the state (this mod­el apes the U.S. Na­tion­al Guard). The Ir­aqi Army would “rarely de­ploy in­side cit­ies,” stay­ing back to provide over­all sup­port and pro­tect na­tion­al bor­ders.

The Ir­aqi con­sti­tu­tion calls for a sys­tem of “func­tion­al fed­er­al­ism,” but such a sys­tem was nev­er truly im­ple­men­ted. The State De­part­ment wants Ir­aq to move in the dir­ec­tion of fed­er­al­ism to help it strike a bal­ance between the in­de­pend­ence of Ir­aq’s three main groups — Sun­nis, Shiites, and Kur­ds — and the cre­ation and main­ten­ance of a ro­bust, cent­ral­ized state that can pro­tect it­self from out­side forces like the cur­rent ad­vance of mil­it­ants be­long­ing to the Is­lam­ic State in Ir­aq and Syr­ia. “This mod­el of func­tion­al fed­er­al­ism is feas­ible and ne­ces­sary,” McGurk said.

Rep. Eli­ot En­gel, D-N.Y., pushed back on McGurk’s in­sist­ence that Ir­aq be kept in­tact. “Ir­aq is not a real state,” En­gel said. “Why should we be ob­lig­ated to main­tain its bor­ders?” McGurk countered by point­ing to a de­vel­op­ing new gov­ern­ment in Ir­aq, which had its first par­lia­ment­ary ses­sion Wed­nes­day after the elec­tion of a new speak­er. The body met to elect a pres­id­ent, but post­poned that vote un­til Thursday. The Ir­aqi gov­ern­ment has agreed to elect a Kur­d­ish pres­id­ent, a Shiite prime min­is­ter, and a Sunni speak­er of the Par­lia­ment since 2003.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have de­scribed the ideal out­come in Ir­aq as “loose fed­er­al­ism” be­fore, and Za­l­may Khal­iz­ad and Ken­neth Pol­lack, of the Cen­ter for Stra­tegic and In­ter­na­tion­al Stud­ies and Brook­ings, re­spect­ively, re­cently called the idea the “least bad solu­tion” for the coun­try. Fed­er­al­ism “is the best out­come for all con­cerned, in­clud­ing the United States,” they wrote. McGurk’s testi­mony shows that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion agrees.

What We're Following See More »
SANS PROOF
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
2 days ago
UPDATE
NEW TRAVEL BAN COMING SOON
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
2 days ago
UPDATE
“WE’RE CHANGING IT”
Trump Rails On Obamacare
2 days ago
UPDATE

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

FAKE NEWS
Trump Goes After The Media
2 days ago
UPDATE

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

FBI TURNED DOWN REQUEST
Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login