The fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime may have marked a watershed in Iraqi history, but to the majority of Iraq s eighteen governorates, the most dramatic challenges may lie ahead. With the formation of federal entities south of Kurdistan enabled from 2008, fundamental changes to Iraq’s state structure can be expected over the coming decade. The parameters of this open-ended process are poorly understood in the West. There seems to be a widespread belief among commentators that the federalisation of Iraq will lead, more or less automatically, to the creation of three large regions based on Iraq s dominant ethno-religious communities, the Shiite Arabs, the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds. However, if the Iraqi constitution is adhered to, such an outcome is actually quite unlikely. According to the Iraqi charter, ethnicity has no role to play in the delineation of Iraq’s federal map. Instead regions geographically defined by the conversion or amalgamation of existing governorates will form the building blocks of the new Iraq, as has already been exemplified in 2009 and again in early 2010 by attempts to create a separate federal region in Basra. This volume is the first to offer a comprehensive overview of regionalism as a political force in contemporary Iraq.
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‘A very timely, well conceived and expertly developed volume on a matter that, in the growing furore over the Bush administration’s war in Iraq, has become a topic of intense debate.’ — Joost Hiltermann, International Crisis Group
Reidar Visser is a Research Fellow specialising in Iraqi politics at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Oslo. He is the author of Basra, the Failed Gulf State: Separatism and Nationalism in Southern Iraq.
Gareth Stansfield is Professor of Middle East Politics and Al-Qasimi Chair of Arab Gulf Studies at the University of Exeter.