Centralizers Vs. Decentralizers
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg
Dr. Irak has some interesting news regarding a new Sunni-Shi'a coalition potentially forming in the Iraqi Parliament
According to a Sadrist lawmaker a new coalition called "The Patriotic Parliamentary Assembly." The coalition would include Sadrists, Fadhila, Allawi's "Iraqi List,' Khalaf al-Layyan's "National Dialogue Council," the "Arab Bloc," and Jaafari's "National Reform Current" (which he formed this spring after a Dawa leadership struggle with Maliki). As such, it would represent an interesting mix of Shia and Sunni (both religious and secular) parties that are united by their opposition to a long-term U.S.-Iraqi pact.
This is further evidence of what as shaping up to be a two coalition battle in Iraqi politics. On the one-hand you have the nationalists, who are interested in a centralized Iraqi state with strong power in the center. They include the Sadrists along with most of the Sunni groups. On the other you have the Kurds along with ISCI and affiliated Shi'a groups - including Maliki's Dawa party. They are the decentralizers, who are pushing for a system where most power lies in the various provinces or regions. Obviously Iraqi politics are more complicated than this and there are more elements involved but it's a pretty clean description of the current political order.
Now, the Iranians are naturally more supportive of the decentralizers as a weak central Iraqi state would give them a freer hand in the South. You'd think we'd be supportive of a more centralized state, which has a better chance of maintaining the territorial integrity of the country and limiting to the extent possible outside influence from neighboring countries. It would also tend to decrease the amount of sectarianism. But naturally, as is the usual in Iraq, U.S. policy is totally reversed. We've somehow ended up in bed with the decentralizers because they've been our allies all along (They speak English and were better trained in how to deal with Western politicians).