Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Separatism in Basra

For ages, I have been speaking out strongly against the idea that Iraq would break into three countries. I still think this unlikely. However, for the first time, there are reports of a separatist movement in the south:

"Basra Deputy Governor Salam Uda al-Maliki has said he is to announce the separation of some Iraqi southern governorates from the central Baghdad government.

"Informed sources told Aljazeera that al-Maliki said the breakaway province would include Basra, Misan and Dhi Qar governorates. He also wants to shut Basra's port and in effect stop oil exports.

"Al-Maliki said the decision was taken because the Iraqi interim government was 'responsible for the Najaf clashes.'"

This is clearly not, however, the "ethnic" nationalism many feared. It actually seems to stem from the desire of local politicians to augment their own power and that of their regions. However, if it proceeds, it could still be bloody.

UPDATE: Salam Uda al-Maliki has just survived an assassination attempt.


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