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Basra's bid for autonomy: peaceful progress toward a decentralized Iraq
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2018, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan, Peter Mulherin
Since the American-led war of 2003, many have called for the breakup of Iraq along ethno-religious or regional lines. Among these proposals, Basra’s nonviolent, civil, and political campaign has come the closest to creating a new autonomous region. This article documents Basra’s bid for decentralization across more than a decade of complex Iraqi politics. It traces the growing popularity of the movement, examining its privileging of economic interest over ethno-religious identity, as well as its use of Iraq’s constitutional framework to advocate for the right to decentralize. Aside from the potential consequences of Basra’s autonomy, this article concludes that the modest successes of this peaceful movement are among the few promising signs for Iraq’s troubled democracy.